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In today’s world we can go to jazz clubs, listen to jazz at home and in the car, and with our myriad mobile devices jazz is available everywhere at any time. Here are a few jazz anecdotes.

Louis Armstrong gave us the best and easiest to understand explanation of jazz, “If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.” It is sometimes a mystery and other times just difficult to catalog certain jazz pieces.

In 2011 UNESCO established April 30 as International Jazz Day and declared jazz an intangible patrimony of humanity which brings people together and fosters peace and unity.

The origins of jazz are open to discussion, but what is established is that it has humble roots, rising out from those who endured racial prejudice and discrimination in the US. It played a role in the women’s suffrage movements. I recently discovered that President Nixon had a passion for jazz, and particularly Louis Armstrong’s interpretation. Apparently when he was Vice President Mr. Nixon grabbed Louis Armstrong’s bag when he had been stopped by customs at the airport, and unwittingly helped the musician escape possible prosecution for possessing cocaine.

Bill Tipton was a woman who lived her entire life as a man, and not until after her death was this fact known to her fans and most of her family.

The best-selling jazz record of all time is the Koln Concert, which was an improvised outdoor concert by Keith Jarret at the Opera House in Cologne, Germany in 1975. Keith arrived late to the event, having accepted to perform only the day before, because the service at the restaurant where he had lunch was so slow. When he arrived at the opera house he discovered that the piano was out of tune and much smaller than the one he had requested, and that’s how the bestselling jazz record was recorded!

Here are a few memorable jazz quotes;

“The only things the United States has given the world are skyscrapers, jazz, and cocktails.” Federico Garcia Lorca

“Jazz will endure as long as people hear it with their feet and not their brains.” John Philip Sousa

“In some ways life is like jazz, it’s better when you improvise.” George Gershwin

“Rock'n'roll is a swimming pool, jazz is an ocean.” Carlos Santana

The Havana International Jazz Festival takes place from January 14 to January 20, 2020.

By Dina GomGar

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