Baghdad celebrates International Jazz Day: Where words fail, music speaks

Nestled in a corner of an old street in Karrada, in the capital city Baghdad, lies a magnificent traditional Iraqi home, and from it emanates the beauty of Jazz.

Home for the newly opened IQ Peace Community Youth Centre, the talented young women and men of Baghdad tuned their cellos, violins and guitars, oiled their saxophone keys, and cleared their throats as the youth gathered around the room to celebrate International Jazz Day on Monday, 30 April 2018. Against a backdrop of somber lights, deep jazzy sounds from the band filled the room with earthy tones - a fusion of modern jazz with the soothing effect from the traditional Oud, Iraq’s favourite and trademark string instrument, lending an Iraqi flavour to the notion of jazz.


International Jazz Day is intended to raise awareness of the virtues of jazz as an educational tool, and a force for empathy, dialogue and enhanced cooperation among people. Many governments, civil society organizations, educational institutions, and private citizens currently engaged in the promotion of jazz music will embrace the opportunity to foster greater appreciation not only for the music but also for the contribution it can make to building more inclusive societies.

Ali Nidal, a passionate self-taught saxophonist, embraces jazz wholeheartedly and feels it "carrying him to another world; outside the norms that Baghdad offers". Guitarist Hussein Samah echoes Ali's sentiment saying that "Jazz allows me to express my emotions; playing my guitar alongside Ali and the band brings me much peace and happiness. The music we make reminds us that where words fail, music speaks".

Their passion for jazz is starkly displayed when the group initiated a campaign during the event polling the audience on their opinion whether Baghdad or the IQ Centre should have a jazz club. This was manifested by notes and comments the audience pinned on the wall expressing hope that a jazz club in Baghdad would come to be.

As the great Louis Armstrong once said, "Jazz is played from the heart. You can even live by it. Always love it".

Text and photos by the Public Information Office of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI)

Additional Info

  • Agency: UNAMI
Last modified on Tuesday, 01 May 2018 19:07

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