Interplay Celebrates International Jazz Day
Herbie Hancock is now a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations. I didn’t realise this until I learned just recently that he has managed to persuade UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) to inaugurate International Jazz Day to celebrate jazz as a world-wide medium of creativity and freedom “because so many countries have been affected in crucial ways over the years by the presence of jazz.” April 30th is the day, coming at the end of Jazz Appreciation Month in the US.
If this sounds a bit ‘worthy’ it reminds us rightly about a really serious facet of our music. In both Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia Jazz was proscribed – criminalised and forbidden. In many other countries it has been a musical form that helped oppressed groups and individuals to maintain their spirit of independence and hope, including in the US itself. And while currently right wing views seem to be enjoying a resurgence, not least in parts of northern Europe, many of those countries formerly showed a warm welcome to black musicians who found little respect or opportunity in their country of birth.
So while there is a chance that International Jazz Day may go the way of Mick Jagger’s once-vaunted National Music Day (remember that?) I for one welcome it. I am also flattered that Baker Street Jazz in Swindon have dedicated Interplay’s gig there on May 1st to International Jazz Day. We’ll be pulling out some of our global grooves in honour of the occasion – please join us if you can!