On Saturday, April 30, The National Jazz Museum in Harlem (NJMH) hosted its annual Concert & Conversationprogram for International Jazz Day as a means of showcasing the universality of jazz for both jazz aficionados and the curious jazz listener. Curated by NJMH Co-Artistic Director and Late Show with Stephen Colbert bandleader, Jon Batiste, the program featured remarks from NJMH Board Chairman, Timothy L. Porter and Min Jeong Kim, Head of the Global Education First Initiative for UNESCO—the organization that designated April 30th as International Jazz Day in 2011. Additionally, the program featured performances by and reflections from a band hand-picked by Batiste which included: pianist Giorgi Mikadze, saxophonist, Patrick Bartley, drummer, Julius Rodriguez, bassist,Linda Oh, and a few surprise guest performers.
Min Jeong Kim noted about jazz, “…although it is a music that was unique to America, its origin was a blending of cultures. The history of jazz draws from a great mix of peoples and cultures — from Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, and South America. Jazz tells us of the power of music to build peace and bring together people of all cultures and backgrounds.”
Tim Porter remarked, “…the international significance of jazz, apart from its global roots and reach, resides also in what it says about how people can and should related to one another. It represents freedom of expression, cooperation, unity, equality and innovation among other things, in the way that the music is both created and performed. “
International Jazz Day, designated as April 30th by UNESCO in 2011, brings together communities, schools, artists, historians, academics, and jazz enthusiasts all over the world to celebrate and learn about jazz and its roots, future and impact; raise awareness of the need for intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding; and reinforce international cooperation and communication. International Jazz Day is the culmination of Jazz Appreciation Month, which draws public attention to jazz and its extraordinary heritage throughout April.
Past performers at NJMH’s International Jazz Day events have included: singer, Cécile McLorin Salvant; singer/composer, Kavita Shah; clarinetist, Oran Etkin; vibraphonist, James Shipp; and singer, Awa Sangho, among others. For more information about the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, please visit: jazzmuseuminharlem.org.
Photo credit: © Richard Conde.