APRIL 30th 2020

Happy International Jazz Day

 

International Jazz Day was founded by UNESCO in 2011"to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe.”

 

Jazz seems such an obscure form of music in the modern age yet the influence of jazz and jazz musicians is all around us.

 

It was jazz musicians who invented the drum kit and placed it as the foundation for their music, where it has remained to this day.

 

It was jazz musicians who embraced the then-obscure saxophone and made it into  a powerful, compelling musical voice.

 

It was jazz musicians who established the electric guitar as a major instrument in popular music.

 

It was jazz musicians, who, through the vehicle of the classic American songbook, established the bedrock of popular music in the west from the 1920s to the 80s and beyond; from Louis Armstrong to Maurice White( originally a jazz drummer) of Earth,Wind And Fire to jazz vocalist Amy Winehouse and on and on to the present. 

 

It was jazz musicians who embraced the electric bass guitar and established it, along with the drum kit, as the foundation of popular music.

 

It was jazz musicians who wrote the orchestration, or ‘sweetening' to countless pop records from Bing Crosby to Neil Diamond to (the band) Chicago, bringing great sophistication to the music on the radio.

 

Jazz musicians wrote and still write the music to countless films and TV shows. 

 

It was jazz musicians who brought the synthesiser into mainstream music. Additionally, the great Herbie Hancock co-invented MIDI(Musical Instrument Digital Interface) which allows electronic musical instruments to ‘talk to each other’ which is ever-present in the modern world.

 

A jazz musician, Quincy Jones was the brains being the biggest selling album ever, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.

 

The reach of jazz into popular culture, while not always obvious, is so profound and pervasive as to be beyond our comprehension. All of these breakthroughs took a combination of musical genius and courage, and, as with all forms of change, all initially met with tremendous resistance and rejection, but the power of positive action and the simple desire to do something new and different won out the end, to the great benefit of all of us.

 

Jazz is able to blend with almost any style of music without losing its integrity as jazz. I have heard jazz successfully combined with rock, funk, blues, soul, flamenco, classical music, South African folk music, gospel, Balinese gamelan, Turkish traditional music,Indian classical music, reggae, Nordic folk music, the list never ends.

 

This is how we create the global harmony the world desperately needs, regardless of our occupation; by putting aside our differences of culture, social status, religious beliefs, language, sexual orientation or other irrelevances, and simply regard each other as equals who deserve each other’s respect. Some people will reject our friendship, just as much of the sun’s light just dissipates into empty space. We don’t have to be friends with everyone, but it’s important for us to light up the world with our sincerity and our desire to be a positive influence.

 

Happy International Jazz Day 2020.

Carl Orr