Jazz, although has its roots in Africa, was originated among African Americans in the United States in the late 19th and 20th, centuries and merges both African and European music traditions. Since the 1920s, the so called jazz age, it is a major and well known musical genre famous all over the world.
In 2011, UNESCO proclaimed the 30th of April as the International Jazz Day in order to foster greater appreciation not only for the music itself, but also for the contribution of Jazz to build more inclusive societies – following to the origin of Jazz during the tremendous discrimination of African Americans that took place for so long in the USA.
Still today there are racial discrimination all over the world. Not least during the so called refugee crisis, right wing populist parties all over Europe became more successful. Therefore, this years Jazz Day is for two reasons meaningful: because empowering solidarity and inclusive societies in this time is significant and necessary, and second because the this year Jazz day is held in Havana, Cuba. After decades of isolation to the western world (the trade embargo is just one keyword), Cuba has experienced a lot of changes this year. As a former Spanish colony that still fights with racial discrimination, Cuba actively takes part in the Celebration of International Jazz Day this year. Also, The celebration in Havana of the International Jazz Day in 2017 marks the seventieth anniversary of Cuba’s accession to UNESCO.
In conclusion, no one would say Jazz Day is not important and a special day to celebrate. But what does Jazz Day, what does the genre Jazz means to us concretely? Let´s ask a former musical student from Serres, Iordanis Kesoulis.
What comes to your mind when you think of Jazz?
Well, firstly I think of the specific sound of the music. But also how the musicians present themselves on stage – I think everybody has seen some Jazz music appearances, even if they just took place in a movie. I think the music is nice to listen to, but not my favorite genre.
UNESCO has even proclaimed an international day just for Jazz. Can you understand this? Where do you think it comes from?
I believe it is because they want people, especially young people to know more about the origin of Jazz. How and because of what this genre was developed. With the help of a music genre, and with presenting this specific music, pupils will have more interest in learning about the situation of black people in America hundred years ago.
The UNESCO´s International Jazz Day each year takes place in another country – this year in Havanna, Cuba. Why do you think it is important to organize a series of events dedicated to Jazz in one specific place each year?
It is a very especial form to celebrate something. In this way, people from all over the world, that all are interested in Jazz, if musicians or historians, can come together. They can discuss about further developments in Jazz Music and talk about the importance of it. They also can celebrate the music by giving and listening to concerts. It is a very visible way to stress an UNESCO day.
It is the first time that you heard about the International Jazz day, right? What do you think should be done that it becomes more famous?
Yes it is. I think there should be more events and offers for it. I am really not that into Jazz, but still it would be cool if there were free concerts and maybe some exhibitions.