Arts and Culture

Celebrate International Jazz Day in New Orleans

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If you're in the mood for a little swing and dance, heading to New Orleans to celebrate International Jazz Day could be the perfect getaway to satisfy your musical cravings.

The day, held on April 30, was officially named in 2011 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), with the aim of celebrating the history and music of jazz, as well as recognising its "diplomatic role in uniting people in all corners of the globe".

Though you may see jazz as just a form of music, International Jazz Day seeks to bring to the fore recognition of the art form's role in peace, diversity, respect for human rights and dignity, freedom of expression and gender equality.

The day is now celebrated worldwide, with enthusiasts and community members alike getting together to celebrate this unique form of music and its heritage and influence.

In 2014, the host city for International Jazz Day is Osaka in Japan, which will hold performances, instrumental workshops, master classes and an All-Star Global Concert featuring renowned jazz artists.

However, if you really want to get to the roots of jazz, what better place to visit than New Orleans, widely regarded as the birthplace of jazz music itself?

New Orleans was highly influential in the development of this genre, with jazz beginning to take hold after the turn of the new century. The form reflected African contribution to American music, and was part of a "broad musical revolution".

As it became prominent, jazz encompassed a community vibe within New Orleans, connected to nightly dances, ball games and picnics.

Now, the music form is still prolific in the area, and International Jazz Day is sure to be a hit with the locals, making it a perfect time for jazz-lovers to plan a trip to the city.

Start off your itinerary with a visit to one of the city jazz clubs dotted around the city. These iconic and vibrant locations come alive with all the variations of jazz, including traditional, acid and blues.

Groove to live jazz music as you enjoy seafood and other delicious fare at the Club 300 Jazz Restaurant, or dance the night away to live music once you've enjoyed happy hour at funkily-named Chickie Wah Wah.

Then there's celebrations dedicated to the day. Head to the Carver Theatre for International Jazz Day to enjoy a concert in partnership with the Kidd Jordan Institute of Jazz.

The John Coltrane Festival, located at Cafe Istanbul, will celebrate the life of internationally acclaimed jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane with performances by Jason Marsalis, NOCCA Jazz and Mario Abney.

For a real jazz extravaganza, head to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Held between April 25 and May 4, the festival coincides with International Jazz Day, and is a hub of entertainment, culture, crafts and music.

The "greatest gospel singer" Mahalia Jackson performed at the first event in 1970, and this year performers such as Robert Plant and Eric Clapton will take to the stage. In addition, there's plenty of delicious food, a Congo Square African marketplace and a Louisiana 'Folklife' village.

To finish off your New Orleans experience, why not learn how to play a little jazz yourself? The New Orleans Academy of Music offers tuition in jazz instruments such as the saxophone, trombone, trumpet or drums – take your pick and learn to create your own music!

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