On April 30 2013, I was given the honor to speak on the significance of
Good evening ladies and gentleman, kids of all ages. Welcome to this magnanimous, magnificent occasion, UNESCO International Jazz Day! I wanna thank you Rodin and Maison for being the founders of the KL International Jazz Festival and today’s celebration. Thank you Malaysian Airlines for your sponsorship.
I am Lloyd Christy Smith III, professionally known as Christy Smith. I am honored, delighted and embrace this opportunity to be a part of this day with you. I hail from Compton, California and Los Angeles county.
I grew up with music in the household. So when I was four or five years old, I knew who Satchmo(Louis Armstrong) and Duke Ellington was. I knew it was something! and I knew I was touched by this Jazz music. I have to thank my mother, my father and my step-father and the radio for this but I didn’t know – what all this meant at a young age. I didn’t know that this music came as an oral history from the African slave descendants, spirituals that turned into the blues – I call that black classical music. Along with the Native Americans, immigrants and the influence from western classical music culminated into the only American art form known as Jazz.
Like languages evolve, oral history was woven together by all the stories we create as we live this music. From its roots has continued to evolve and influence music all over the planet. The essence of Jazz encompasses all the music in you! The music that’s in your head and the world around you. As you hear the birds chirping, or the train going by, or the music you hear while you’re listening to other music – that is your Jazz. When you hear children playing and ‘beboping’ around with their musical rhythms, that’s improvisation and the expression of life.
This is on an international scale, and includes all of us in the world over to cooperate and promote this knowledge together. I must at this time refer back to the blues, of a song that Ray Charles called ‘I’m a fool for you’.
Ray Charles said, “Each and everybody can understand the blues.”
Now, Lester Young said, “Oh yeah, I love the blues and everybody love the blues and have em’ too!”
But back to Ray, he must have been in love with his next-door neighbor that he loved since he was 5 years old. And when she wasn’t around him, next to him by his pillow, he put on his cry and he cried out from deep in his soul. The line, ‘He put on his cry, and he cried so loud… It must be something… to give the blues to your neighbor next door’.
This translates globally to the international community, coming from America. We are here to commemorate and celebrate and embrace Jazz. As music is life’s own origin, we are responsible for learning, listening and learning to listen, for its growth in humanity. The significance of International Jazz Day is to reinforce the music (past, present and future) – we don’t have to ask why. This is in accordance with the natural order of life or life’s celebration of mankind, through music.
We want to embrace, perpetuate, celebrate and acknowledge this continuum. We are apart of which we know promotes peace in the soul of humanity.
As improvisation is one of the main components of Jazz, that moment has arrived for us. Can we all stand up for a resounding affirmation of our collective embrace of this International Jazz Day? I’m gonna give you the answer, and the answer is – Yes. As we celebrate today, will you continue to embrace all International Jazz Days of the future? [audience reply is yes.] And so it is. And I’m out!