International Jazz Day was celebrated on 30th of April and was established by the UNESCO in November 2011. Reason for marking that dayamong all is the ability of jazz to connect people of all countries and backgrounds. This power was used to make, with the help of the јazz legend Herbie Hancock as the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, an unforgettable celebration of this art.

The first performances to celebrate the Jazz Day where held 2012 in three different cities at the same time: а symbolic sunrise concert at Congo square in New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz; a sunset concert at the United Nations General Assembly Hall in New York City; and a day long celebration in Paris at UNESCO world headquarters. This spectacular opening made it possible for the jazz to reach millions of people all around the globe and to make them aware of its importance in history and his role in the future.

If we talk about jazz we can’t forget to mention its rich past. Starting as a combination of different styles of music like blues, march, and ragtime, jazz developed quickly to his own kind of thing. Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington, that were only a few of the stars, formed the early jazz to what it is today. After the beginning with the New Orleans Jazz similar to march, dixieland jazz – the white counterpart to it and the Chicago Jazz as the mix of both, jazz got to his peak with the introduction of swing. Still today, as the most popular style of jazz, swing is responsible for the itbeing commercialy successful and widely recognized. After this huge triumph young musicians like Charlie Parker became bored of the clean and highly structured mainstream swing and needed a way to express themselves and their music in a more complex way. Bebop was the answer to their needs. Minute long solos became the standard and there were no limits for the creativity of a song. Later developments like hard bop and the later introduced free jazz become famous for is peculiarity. After this long period, it became popular to mix different genres of music with jazz creating fusion jazz. Artists commonly mixed it with funk or blues, creating new but familiar sounds. Modern evolutions of jazz either further explored the freedom of free jazz and the limits of music itself or tried to make it again more popular in the classic jazz. Smooth-jazz, pop-jazz, and electroswing are examples of it.  Nevertheless, the old hits are also not forgotten and are still played in the whole world.


Jazz is also a really popular style of music in Serbia and the former Yugoslavia. It was introduced in the 1920s as in most of the Europe, shortly after that in 1927 the first јazz band was formed under the name „Studentski Mickey Jazz”. This Band was formed from students who were amateur musicians. The way more famous band „Lakih ludih nota’ – Akademski Jolly Boys“ followed shortly after in 1929. With more skilled musicians that joined the band from the Philharmonia, Opera and Radio Belgrade band Jolly Boys achieved to play in the most respected clubs in Belgrade such as the ‘Džokej klub’. Because this clubs where mostly expensive and hard to get in, jazz was only accessible to the upper class. When in March 1929 Radio Belgrade started playing Jazz in there shows, everybody came in touch with the new music style. Bands with professional musicians showed up almost a decade later in the late 1930s with”Quick Swingers”, ”Swing Rhythm”, ”Swing Trio” and the Orchestra ”Šuleta Jovanovića”. The number of listeners raised more and more and the need for a festival became bigger. In 1960 the time had come and the first Jazz Festival in Yugoslavia was carried out in the Town of Bled in Slovenia. Today, the biggest regional jazz festival ”Nisville“ takes place in Niš. Starting in 1981, it is carried out till today, starring a huge number of jazz bands and artists in the past years like Solomon Burke, Joss Stone,  Osibisa, Brussels Jazz Orchestra, John Patittuci, Lollo Meier, Brand New Heavies, Mingus Dynasty, Sly & Robbie ft. Junior Reid, Mungo Jerry Blues Band, Jamie Davis, Incognito, Kyle Eastwood, Hubert Tubbsand the Ginger Baker Jazz Confusion. As an аnnual tradition, the music club ”Feedback”organizes a concert for the International Jazz Day with the team from the ”Nisville”festival, so if you want to come,  join in.

For this Year the UNESCO has decided to move the International Jazz Day to St. Petersburg in Russia. Russia has also a quite long history in Jazz. Being played there since 1927, St. Petersburg will be a Great Host for  Jazz.

Every year on April the 30th, International Jazz Day brings together communities, schools, artists, historians, academics and jazz enthusiasts all over the world to celebrate and learn about jazz and ist roots, future and impact; raising the awereness of the need for intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding, reinforcing international cooperation and communication. This is more than enough to justify the importance of celebrating this amazing day.

A text about jazz can’t end without a little bit of music, so hereis a short video from the International Jazz Day Celebration at the Republic Square in Belgrade, so you can get an impression of it. 


Author: Antonija Radulović