KARACHI: A decade ago, on November 2011, UNESCO General Conference has proclaimed the 30th of April as International Jazz Day.
According to UNESCO, International Jazz Day brings together communities, schools, artists, historians, academics, and jazz enthusiasts all over the world to celebrate and learn about the art of jazz, its roots, its future and its impact.
UNESCO maintains that International Jazz Day is celebrated for promoting peace, dialogue among cultures, diversity, and respect for human rights and human dignity, eradicating discrimination, promoting freedom of expression, fostering gender equality, and reinforcing the role of youth for social change.
While trying to find the racines it transpires that Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans in the late 19th/early 20th centuries.
Savants, attempting to figure out from where the word Jazz originated, maintained that in 1860 there had been an African-American slang word jasm that meant energy and Jazz could have come from that word. Jas Bands was first used by a newspaper New Orleans Times-Picayune back in 1916.
Then there are those who believe since the prostitutes operating in New Orleans’ Red Light Area generally used to use Jasmine perfume, and the music under discussion was partly developed at brothels, it is called Jazz!
And why Jazz Day? Jazz is believed to harbor virtues that makes it a force, by means of which peace, harmony and dialogue could be preached. According to UNESCO the tale of this genre of music was written into the search for human dignity, democracy and civil rights.
International Jazz Day is observed annually to augment awareness in the international community of the virtues of jazz as a force for augmented collaboration amid populaces.
UN, justifying the Day of Jazz, holds that jazz breaks down barriers and creates opportunities for tolerance; Jazz is a vector of freedom of expression; Jazz is a symbol of unity and peace; Jazz reduces tensions between individuals, groups, and communities; Jazz fosters gender equality.
According to the UN, jazz reinforces the role youth play for social change; Jazz encourages artistic innovation, improvisation, new forms of expression, and inclusion of traditional music forms into new ones; Jazz stimulates intercultural dialogue and empowers young people from marginalized societies.
UNESCO maintains that JAZZ has given strength to the struggle against discrimination and racism. In Nina Simone’s words: “Jazz is not just music, it is a way of life, it is a way of being, a way of thinking”.
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