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Main Jazz Day Events hosted by Turkey in Istanbul

Spurred by the success of the first celebration, UNESCO, in partnership with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz (TMIJ) will be organizing the second International Jazz Day on April 30th, 2013. This day is destined to raise awareness in the international community regarding jazz’s virtues as an educational tool, as a vehicle for peace, unity, dialogue, and for enhanced cooperation between peoples. 

The year 2013 marks the beginning of the International Decade for People of African Descent, consecrated to the theme, “Recognition, justice and development for people of African heritage.” This constitutes yet another highlight of the event that the United Nations will surely support. Africa, whence jazz draws its origins, will thus be doubly honoured this year.

Istanbul is the official host city for 2013. Turkey has an age-old tradition of jazz.  Munir Ertegun, Turkish Republic’s first ambassador to Washington in the 1930s, opened his embassy’s parlors to African American jazz musicians, who gathered there to play freely in a socio-historical context which was deeply divided by racial segregation at the time. Inspired by this legacy, the ambassador’s sons, Ahmet and Nesuhi, went on to establish the United States’ first jazz and gospel label in 1947 - Atlantic Records - which was seminal in spreading the beauty of jazz music around the world. 

In April 2012, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock and TMIJ spearheaded and organized the historical events which took place around the world where  jazz legends gathered together for key events at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris, at the United Nations’ Headquarters in New York, as well as at the emblematic Congo Square in New Orleans. From Algiers to Buenos Aires, from Kuala Lumpur to Warsaw, from Lomé to Santo Domingo, more than a hundred countries celebrated this day.

After the UNESCO General Conference in November 2011, April 30th was declared International Jazz Day.

About the 2013 celebrations:


Turkey welcomes the opportunity to host UNESCO’s International Jazz Day on 29-30 April, 2013, in Istanbul. On this occasion, we shall celebrate jazz music not only as a global language of human soul, but also that of more inclusive societies, mutually enhancing civilisations, and UNESCO ideals.

Message from Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Ahmet Davutoglu and Minister of Culture and Tourism Mr Omer Celik.

For over a century jazz -the universal language of passion and benevolence- has united people of disparate cultures, religions, and nationalities, fostered and strengthened communication and partnerships among heterogeneous groups, enhanced the peace-making process, and demonstrated just how much we all have in common. (...) No musical art form is more powerful as a diplomatic tool than jazz.

Message from Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General and Herbie Hancock, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador & Chairman of Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.


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In Istanbul


Hagia Irene church (Istanbul):Dating back to the 4th century, the Hagia Irene, located in the outer courtyard of Topkapi Palace – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – is regarded as an international treasure for music lovers.

Exclusive Interviews

  • Marcus Miller

    Born in Brooklyn, NYC, Marcus Miller is a multi-instrumentalist and has collaborated with some of the greatest names in Jazz.

  • Danilo Pérez

    Born in Panama, he studied at the prestigious Berklee College of Music of which he is now the Artistic Director.

  • Herbie Hancock

    The legendary American jazz pianist and composer is the force behind UNESCO’s International Jazz Day.

Interviews from the 2012 edition

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Video Message of Irina Bokova, UNESCO's Director General 
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Video Message of Herbie Hancock, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador & Chairman of Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz
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