Istanbul hosts International Jazz Day

The main celebration of this year’s International Jazz Day will be held in Istanbul.

After 30 April has been announced International Jazz Day by UNESCO and for the first time celebrated in Paris, New Orleans and New York last year, the city laying on the Bosphorus is going to welcome some of the most important jazzists this year at a concert to be held at the Holy Peace Church, also known as Hagia Irene, located in the outer courtyard of Topkapı Palace. Public television stations from all around the world will stream the event live.

With the announcement of this info, UNESCO is reminding about the uncommon connection between jazz and Turkey:

The story dates back to the 30′ and 40′ when then Turkish ambassador Mehmet Munir Ertegun, despite segregation and burning race issues in the United States, regularly invited Afro-American musicians for dinner and jam sessions to his residence.

His sons, Nesuhi and Ahmet Ertegun were big jazz lovers. They often went to black neighborhoods of then Washington, looking for records that were nowhere else to be found. They also visited the Howard Theater were musicians gathered who were later to become leading jazzists.

Ambassador Ertegun opened the doors of his home to artists like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Lester Young, Benny Carter, Johny Hodges and Rex Stewart.

After ambassadors death in 1944 his sons stayed in America. Ahmet Ertegun founded the record label Atlantic Records that launched musicians like Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin among America’s pop stars. Nesuhi Ertegun was head of label’s jazz department, he produced albums by legends like John Coltrane, Charles Mingus and Ornette Coleman.

“International Jazz Day is a unique way to pay tribute to the heritage of Ertegun brothers by gathering musicians from all over the world to celebrate peace, freedom and fraternity, universal messages of jazz music, in a unique city where continents and civilizations meet”, is written in the UNESCO announcement.

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