FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Good evening. Happy first International Jazz Day!
Many, many thanks to Irina Bokova of UNESCO for supporting this extraordinary project, thank you also to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, and above all to the amazing Herbie Hancock, whose idea it was to create International Jazz Day. He had a dream for this music, and for us all. He stuck with it. And in the past few days, in Paris, New Orleans and now here, that dream has come true.
It's particularly fitting that this day falls at the end of the United States' presidency of the United Nations Security Council. That's
because the origins and early development of jazz are quintessentially American. And when the United States wanted to show its best abroad, we have often sent jazz. The U.S. dispatched the famous Jazz Ambassadors around the world, a tradition that continued with the Rhythm Road program, and now with American Voices. When the Voice of America used to beam jazz across the Iron Curtain, the DJ at the time said people there "love jazz because they love freedom." Like democracy itself, jazz has structure, but within it you can say almost anything.
In fact, America's Jazz Ambassadors were pushing on a very open door. Jazz became the world's music long ago. Out of South Africa we've had Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, and Abdullah Ibrahim. Right after World War II ended, young Toshiko Akiyoshi heard a recording of Teddy Wilson doing "Sweet Lorraine," and one of the great jazz careers was born. In 1953, Bud Shank and Laurindo Almeida brought Brazilian sounds together with jazz. There is by now a rich tradition of Nordic jazz. There's South Asian jazz. There's Russian jazz and Chinese jazz.
So now, jazz is everyone's music. As Charlie Parker once said, "Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn." The musicians tonight bring together so much experience and so much wisdom. We all can't wait to hear what comes out of their horns.
Thank you to these brilliant musicians and thank you all so much for joining us.
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