Message from Ms. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the Occasion of the International Jazz Day


30 April 2021


This tenth International Jazz Day is an opportunity to celebrate once again this rich musical tradition. Jazz is a multiple reality, forged through encounters between cultures, instruments and people. For decades, jazz has been vibrating with everything that musicians have put into it, while continuing to invite us to new horizons at the turn of each chord.


It is this openness of jazz, to improvisation, to the other, that makes it essentially a music for peace. As the great jazzman and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock, who initiated the International Day, pointed out in the UNESCO Courier, jazz, precisely because it is played in a spirit of acceptance of the other, conveys humanist values, essential to mutual understanding, dialogue and respect.


At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic all too often exacerbates the tensions in our societies, leading to the resurgence of prejudice and discrimination, more than ever we need this essential invitation from jazz to respect the other.


The power of universality of this music has never ceased to break down barriers, striving for freedom from slavery, dialogue from separation, uniting all, going beyond origins, borders and classes, in music and creation.


Jazz also holds the strength of improvisation, which overcomes all obstacles and allows this tradition to renew itself without losing its way. At a time when a multiple crisis underlines the urgency of reinventing our societies, our relationship to the world and to each other, the flexibility, audacity and optimism of jazz can inspire us to celebrate, with Nina Simone, “a new dawn, a new day”.

对于爵士乐,我们还应该珍视其即兴创作的力量,这力量可以克服一切障碍,让传统不断更新而不走向自我迷失。虽然多重性危机突显了重塑我们的社会、我们与世界以及与他人关系的紧迫性,但爵士乐的灵活性、大胆和乐观精神可以激励我们与妮娜·西蒙(Nina Simone)一起,去庆祝“新的黎明、新的一天”。

More than ever, we need jazz – but jazz also needs us. This day is also an opportunity to express our support for musicians all over the world who have suddenly lost their income as concert venues, clubs and bars have closed. They have continued to share their music, wherever they can, online or in the street, without losing their generosity, their impetus and their inventiveness. It is up to us to show them that they have not lost their audience either. We are delighted to be able to count once again on the unfailing commitment of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz. It will allow us to celebrate this anniversary Day together, online, and let the power of jazz resonate around the world.


We must stand in solidarity with musicians, and with all artists, as UNESCO has been doing for the past year by giving them the opportunity to express themselves in more than 255 ResiliArt debates in more than 110 countries, in order to invent together ways of overcoming the crisis and building the future.


On this special anniversary, let us share the last wish of Chick Corea, a legend and an embodiment of jazz, who sadly passed away in February: “I have hope that those who feel the urge to play, to write, to perform in a show can do so. If it is not for themselves, then for us. Not just because the world needs more artists, but because it’s more fun.”

在这个特殊的周年纪念日,让我们分享在今年2月份不幸离世的爵士乐传奇和化身奇克·考瑞阿(Chick Corea)的遗愿:“我希望那些有志于从事演奏、写作和表演的人们能够实现自己的愿望。不但是为了他们自己,也是为了其他人。这不仅是因为世界需要更多的艺术家,也是因为世界会因此更加有趣。”