Adelaide Jazz Day international relay


On April 30, 2023, exceptional jazz performance was the soundtrack of the day and lead the UNESCO International Jazz Day celebrations across Adelaide. Since its inception in 2011, the global community has united annually to celebrate International Jazz Day through performances, educational programs, and community outreach initiatives that give everyone the chance to enjoy the richness of jazz and explore its profound history and cultural influence.

With the traditional performance championed by the Adelaide Festival Centre and the inaugural Adelaide Jazz Festival, Adelaide also participated in UNESCO’s International Jazz Day Relay, a collaborative performance of original music composed by Jaylen Ward of Kansas City. Premiering as a live performance at the Semanas Musicales Music Festival in Frutillar, UNESCO City of Music in Chile, the piece then travelled the world in a Jazz Relay being performed by ensembles and soloists across Europe, Africa, Asia/Pacific, North and South America.

Feedback has been amazing, with Adelaide’s contribution regularly being described as a standout.  Herbie Hancock, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue congratulated all involved saying These 2023 celebrations stand as a testament to the commitment behind jazz, and the unity and peace it can bring.

The project was inspired by UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water (SDG14). Adelaide’s contribution to the Jazz Day Relay was performed by a collective coordinated by Mark Ferguson, Head of Jazz at the University of Adelaide’s Elder Conservatorium of Music. Students and recent graduates of the Elder Conservatorium’s jazz program lent their talents to the performance. Their captivating rendition was captured by Liam Somerville from Capital Waste Pictures, with additional camera work by Ryan Sahb and sound recording by Dylan Cooper.

Participating musicians recorded their improvisations which were then mixed together by a team in the UNESCO City of Music London, Canada to produce a seamless Jazz Day Relay. The resulting UCCN Music Cluster Jazz Day Relay 2023 project can be viewed below.

Adelaide City of Music takes great pride in supporting initiatives that build international relationships and provide opportunities for South Australian artists, institutions, and organisations to thrive on the global stage. It also recognises the importance of cultivating sustainable mindsets in individuals, communities, and organisations, including the preservation of our oceans and bodies of water.

The International Jazz Relay is set to return in 2024 with thanks to our friends in Daegu, South Korea, and an outstanding performance by Park Si Yeon trio of Bird, Bird, Blue Bird.