International Jazz Day
James Andrews plays the trumpet during a jazz funeral held for local bass drummer Lionel Batiste 20 July 2012 in New Orleans, LouisianaSean Gardner/Getty Images

International Jazz Day is celebrated annually on 30 April by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) to celebrate the beauty and power of jazz, not just as a beloved creative art form, but as an instrument for cultural diplomacy.

Officially declared in November 2011, International Jazz Day has been celebrated in four global host cities, each showcasing the best of their local jazz scene and international jazz headliners.

"Jazz is more than music, it is a universal message of peace, carrying values significant for every woman and man, providing unique opportunities for mutual understanding, through listening, playing and improvisation," director general of Unesco Irina Bokova said in this year's Jazz Day message.

This year, Washington DC — the birthplace of legendary jazz pianist and bandleader Duke Ellington — has been named the International Jazz Day 2016 global host city, joining over 190 countries across the globe celebrating the beloved art form with thousands of performances, programmes and initiatives. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted the 5th anniversary International Jazz Day All-Star Global Concert at the White House a day early on 29 April. The event will be broadcast as a one-hour primetime ABC television show and streamed on the United Nations, Unesco, White House and US State Department websites on 30 April.

"Over the past five years, the innovation and creativity of Jazz Day has been a beacon of light to millions of people who find common ground and communicate through the values inherent in jazz," Unesco goodwill ambassador and Jazz legend Herbie Hancock said in a statement. "A wide range of momentous events will take place in thousands of neighbourhoods — and the streets will be alive with the sounds of peace and freedom."

In celebration of International Jazz Day, IBTimes UK has compiled a list of top 10 quotes to enjoy and share with family, friends and fellow jazz enthusiasts:

  • "If you have to ask what jazz is, you'll never know." - Louis Armstrong
  • "Life is a lot like jazz — it's best when you improvise." - George Gershwin
  • "Jazz is a feeling, more than anything else. It isn't music, it's language." – Enos Payne
  • "Jazz is not just music, it's a way of life, it's a way of being, a way of thinking." - Nina Simone
  • "That's the thing about jazz: it's free flowing, it comes from your soul." - Billy Crystal
  • "As far as playing jazz, no other art form, other than conversation, can give the satisfaction of spontaneous interaction." - Stan Getz
  • "Jazz stands for freedom. It's supposed to be the voice of freedom: Get out there and improvise, and take chances, and don't be a perfectionist — leave that to the classical musicians." - Dave Brubeck
  • "Jazz music is America's past and its potential, summed up and sanctified and accessible to anybody who learns to listen to, feel, and understand it. The music can connect us to our earlier selves and to our better selves-to-come. It can remind us of where we fit on the time line of human achievement, an ultimate value of art." - Wynton Marsalis
  • "Jazz is the only music in which the same note can be played night after night but differently each time." - Ornette Coleman
  • "If music is a place – then jazz is the city, folk is the wilderness, rock is the road, classical is a temple." – Vera Nazarian