I am posting about this topic because of a special request via my Facebook account. If you’d like me to blog about something, just let me know and I’ll do my best to honor your request.
This past Tuesday was International Jazz Day. Did you celebrate? How does one celebrate Jazz day? How long have we been celebrating this holiday, and by whose decree? It is a most peculiar holiday to me – since I’m not sure if it’s a sincere holiday or a marketing ploy (if it’s a marketing ploy it’s an utterly ridiculous one, who will celebrate Jazz just because someone tells them to?). Is it even a proper “holiday” or should I call it something else? Why is it April 30? Why not April 28, Duke Ellington’s birthday? Why April?! Obviously I find it very confusing. As a Jazz musician or Jazz fan everyday is “Jazz Day”; if you like Jazz (or love it) then it does not need to be compartmentalized into one day, and if you don’t like Jazz (or rather, if you don’t know about it) then you aren’t going to discover it on an arbitrary day.
I consider myself an advocate for Jazz and I appreciate every effort to help introduce people to something that I truly believe will make them happy and their lives better. In that sense, I really want to support International Jazz Day, I say – “Yes, shout Jazz from the rooftops!” At the same time, however, I don’t think anyone is doing Jazz any favors by separating it from our daily lives and making it seem like a lost cause the United Nations had to save from obscurity. But, maybe I am wrong and JazzDay doesn’t actually exist to advocate Jazz, maybe it’s advocating something else? The JazzDay website says the day is to “celebrate and learn about jazz and its roots, future and impact; raise awareness of the need for intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding; and reinforce international cooperation and communication.”
Hmm…that’s quite a mission statement right there. Reinforce international cooperation? Why doesn’t it say, “teach about the music of Louis Armstrong”? Or Charlie Parker? Or Wayne Shorter? Or Albert Ayler? It seems to me that in that entire mission statement Jazz gets very little attention.
All that being said, I hate to rally the troops against the idea of a day for Jazz recognition and I’m sure that some good came out of this past April 30, but I am undecided about it. Maybe if they have a parade next year I’ll be more supportive – after all, who doesn’t love a parade?
Did you have a positive experience regarding Jazz Day? Did you know it was Jazz Day? Do you think it’s ridiculous? Tell me….