International Jazz Day

International Jazz Day - Wednesday, April 30, 2025

Arts & Entertainment Fun Cultural Music

All. That. Jazz. Many consider it “America’s classical music.” After all, jazz began in New Orleans over 100 years ago. Legendary jazz pianist and composer Herbie Hancock (along with the UN) helped create International Jazz Day in 2011. So join with people around the world as this day promotes jazz’s roots and intercultural influence every April 30. 

This year the 2020 All-Star Global Concert takes place in Cape Town. Listen to the 2019 global concert from Melbourne, Australia for free.

Read on for a musical look at a distinctly American art form — and don’t miss our list of four cool jazz subgenres.

International Jazz Day is a beautiful time to celebrate the gift of music and to come together as a community. It’s a chance to listen to a variety of musicians and hear their talents live all around the world.

Learning more about the day will help any musical enthusiast to appreciate all the benefits of listening to jazz. Music lovers from around the world will gather to attend jazz festivals, parties, and events to help celebrate the day and this specific type of music. Now is the perfect opportunity to take up a musical instrument such as the trumpet, saxophone, piano or clarinet and start to make music so one can understand what all the hype is about.

International Jazz Day highlights the ability for jazz to unite people from all walks of life and draw together folks from around the globe. No one is left out, as this day brings together artists, schools, communities, historians, academics, and jazz aficionados to raise awareness around this type of music and educate the public about the roots, impact, and future of jazz. There’s a deep-rooted message attached to this day of celebration, such as reinforcing international cooperation and communication.

It brings to light the need for intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding through one of the best ways possible, music. The power of the music will be apparent when participants view people of all backgrounds, forgetting about their differences and joining together to celebrate jazz. Any adverse circumstances from the past or present are suddenly forgotten or pushed aside, and people begin to focus on friendship, freedom, hope, and dignity instead.

The day itself is intended to promote peace, diversity, respect among different cultures, and highlight the need for human rights and dignity. The music itself addresses the desire for eliminating discrimination and promoting the freedom of expression. Youth are also encouraged to participate by enacting change and helping to foster gender equality. One will have the chance to experience how much life and love emerges when the day kicks off, and musicians from all over begin to jam and play their music.

History of International Jazz Day

It all began in 2011 when the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization declared International Jazz Day as an opportunity to give recognition to jazz music and state its role to unite people all around the globe. It’s been going strong ever since and people look forward to this day each year when music lovers from around the world can share in the experience of listening to and making jazz music.

The idea itself emerged from jazz pianist and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock. Together, the UNESCO Director-General and Hancock chair the event and ensure people from all over come out to participate in the celebration each year. Cities such as Paris, New Orleans, and New York were some of the first to begin to educate the public on the event and draw excitement to Jazz Day.

The Host City goes as far as to organize an All-Star Global Concert which brings together over two-dozen jazz musicians from all parts of the world in or around a historical landmark. It’s interesting to know that the popularity of the day has grown immensely over the years. Now, nearly 200 countries participate in International Jazz Day.

You can visit just about any location and hear and experience jazz music at its finest. You’ll witness artists and onlookers expressing themselves in their own unique and individual way. Cape Town, South Africa is the Host City for 2020, so one should make a note of this if he or she wants to travel and see some of the best musicians perform their music live. Not only will there be music present at the event, but organizers are also planning an extensive educational and community outreach program for people to participate in and as a way for them to expand their knowledge.

How to Celebrate International Jazz Day

There are many ways for how people around the world can celebrate International Jazz Day. There is no right or wrong way to go about it, and all communities may have their unique take and twist on the day. For example, there may be live concerts and events to attend, and people might want to host their own parties.

Not only are there concerts and events taking place internationally, but many will also hold jam sessions and educational workshops and conferences, as well as organize community outreach programs. Anyone can locate and access jazz educational materials from the International Jazz Day website to help them run their event. The public shouldn’t be afraid to insert themselves in the conversation and start an event or discussion around the topic to help create awareness around the day.

The common denominator is that there will be a lot of jazz music to be heard and played. It’s an opportunity for those unfamiliar with this type of music to get more acquainted with it and learn about its roots and history. One can witness people of all ages and backgrounds moving to the music and enjoying themselves while the performers work hard to put on a show that anyone can appreciate.

International Jazz Day is undoubtedly a celebration to be aware of and take part in if a person is looking to expand their horizons and musical knowledge. There’s so much to see and take in around the globe when this day rolls around. There will be no choice but to participate in some sort of event that’s happening in the area. It’s a time to appreciate the musicians and their talents and bring people together to experience this particular type of music without any judgment.

Go ahead and give one of these events or jam sessions a try and see for oneself how engaging jazz music is and witness its ability to bring together people from across the globe and find common ground. Let this year be the year that people let their guards down and allow themselves to experience the day by listening, conversing, and moving their bodies to the wonderful sounds of jazz. 

International Jazz Day timeline


The first International Jazz Day

The first International Jazz Day was held, featuring high-profile programs in Paris, New Orleans, and New York.


UNESCO designated April 30

UNESCO named April 30 International Jazz Day to culminate the Smithsonian Institution’s Jazz Appreciation Month in April.


Herbie Hancock played a key role

Designated a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue, Hancock created a celebration of the diplomatic role of jazz music.


Herbie Hancock & Miles Davis

Herbie Hancock joined Miles Davis’ Second Great Quintet where he helped refine the role of the rhythm section.

19th century

Jazz born

Jazz blossomed in African-American communities in the South — born from blues and ragtime.

4 Cool Jazz Subgenres You Need To Explore

  1. Latin Jazz

    Instead of a drum kit, Latin Jazz uses congas, bongos, or timbales to drive a Latin American style rhythm.

  2. Avant-garde Jazz

    Avant-garde art musical composition combines with jazz instruments to form this sub-genre, characterized by its emphasis on improvisation and experimentation.

  3. Swing

    Beat-driven and highly danceable, swing music features a strong rhythm section. You’ll recognize Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole as famous pop vocalists of the swing movement.

  4. Soul Jazz

    Soul jazz incorporates strong influences from blues, soul, gospel, and rhythm and blues to create music with repetitive rhythms and bluesy melodies.

International Jazz Day Activities

  1. Listen to the greats

    Whether you’re new to jazz or want to honor the classics, honoring the musicians who helped define the genre is the ultimate way to celebrate International Jazz Day. Check out Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane to start.

  2. Attend a concert

    Concerts are held all over the world to celebrate International Jazz Day. If there’s not one near you, why not host your own event? You can even register the event on the International Jazz Day website.

  3. Take some lessons

    Take to Yelp or even the streets of your neighborhood – there are learning opportunities everywhere. The hard part will be deciding which instrument to play!

Why We Love International Jazz Day

  1. It unites cultures

    Herbie Hancock wanted to celebrate the diplomatic role of jazz in unifying people all around the world, and thus International Jazz Day was born. Countries from Argentina to Zambia throw jam sessions, music clinics, concerts and more, each with their own unique cultural flavor.

  2. Anyone and everyone can participate

    In 2017, more than 190 countries hosted events for enthusiasts of all skill levels and sub-genres. A major focus of International Jazz Day is community outreach and education. Thanks to UNESCO, beginners and advanced players can access lessons on writing blues music, Indian rhythms, the mathematics of music and more

  3. Top jazz musicians perform together

    Each year, one city is selected for the annual Global Host celebration. Everything culminates in one incredible performance. The All-Star Global Concert has featured some of the best jazz musicians from around the world, including Esperanza Spalding, Robert Glasper, and Aretha Franklin, just to name a few.

Also on Wed Apr 30, 2025...

Honesty Day
Apr 30