By Karen Flemister
Jazz. This music genre has seen its own peaks and valleys in terms of popularity. Periodically jazz has been written off as obsolete, a formerly popular music category left for the archives of history. Well, rumors of the death of jazz are greatly exaggerated. There is a person in Arizona who refuses to sit idly by while jazz music fades away into the dustbin of history. He is actually using jazz as a mechanism to build bridges between politicians from both sides of the aisle and residents throughout the state.
The front of the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix, Arizona will be the site for Jazz At Lunch Time on April 26, 2017 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Several State Senators and House Representatives, including the Speaker of the House, have committed to participating in this event. Local mayors from Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Douglas, and Tucson, will be VIP guests in attendance. Dr. William “Doc” Jones is the coordinator bringing entities together to promote the 6th annual International Jazz Day in Arizona. He hopes to soon collaborate with Gov. Doug Ducey and the state legislature to make April 30th of each year a Jazz Day of Celebration in the state, perhaps leading to an eventual state holiday. This annual International Jazz Day Celebration will be held at three locations, the Mesa Arts Center, Herberger Theater, and the Arizona State Capitol, with performances by some of the top jazz artists in America.
According to Doc Jones, a jazz artist in his own right, “This really is becoming a Movement. I’m currently part of a select group that is carrying the banner for the spirit and soul of Jazz music.” Although a solo idea right now, that is unifying the state around the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural (UNESCO) International Jazz Day, Jones has been building bridges throughout the state for this cause. He has been a unifying force in the state across party lines and among people of various races to make jazz a force to be reckoned with. Being a unifier in a state sometimes hesitant to fully celebrate its great diversity is a major feat. Ducey has been forging partnerships between
Gov. Claudia Popovich of Sonora, Mexico and the state of Arizona to find common ground by building business partnerships. Jones plans to bring her along as a welcoming bridge to the Mexican people through the art form of jazz music.
Several state leaders, including Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane, Mesa Mayor John Giles, Douglas Mayor Robert Uribe, and Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild have recorded proclamations in support of this International Jazz Day Celebration. The Arizona governor has created a video in support of this special day. House Representative Reginald Bolden will read a Proclamation for the celebration on the floor of the State House. Two mayors from Sonora, Mexico, Omar Salas, and Kiko Munro have also added great support through recorded proclamations. State officials from a few other cities are also backing the celebration.
UNESCO designated April 30 as International Jazz Day in November 2011 to unite nations and people through highlighting the importance of jazz. Famed Jazz Artist Herbie Hancock, UNESCO Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue, is pushing International Jazz Day around the world as a global phenomenon. He also is the chairman of the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz that promotes this day to artists, historians, academic scholars, schools and communities throughout the world.
As the executive director of International Jazz Day AZ Foundation, Jones uses his organization to teach children the art of playing jazz in charter school programs. He also imparts his knowledge of jazz history in this country. The work of this foundation is his way of giving back to the community and raising awareness and love for jazz music to the next generation. Jones is inviting corporations to get on board the “Jazz Train,” becoming title sponsors for his foundation and helping unify the state for International Jazz Day this year and beyond. Everyone is invited to come out to all events and support the growth of jazz in the state of Arizona. For more information visit www.jazzday.com.