Jazz lovers and performers worldwide can now point to their very own day. April thirtieth is the second annual International Jazz Day. UNESCO describes it as a “universal music of freedom and creativity”.
For many of these students from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington DC, jazz also offers them a way out of difficult neighbourhoods.
Davey Yarborough from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts gave us his perspective:
“It is still the most democratic form of communication in the world. And to me that says it all.”
And jazz radio host Rusty Hassan has no doubts about its longevity:
“It’s part of the fabric of American culture and it will survive, if not thrive.”
The school encourages students to embody the same qualities of performing in a disciplined yet improvisational manner as the great jazz musician Duke Ellington, a Washington native himself.
Jazz originated at a time of deep racial segregation, when it was often the only means for African-American expression.
With an African-American in the White House today, it’s also a proud barometer of the country’s social progress.