In 1982, the UN began observing "Peace Day" every September at the opening of its General Assembly. In 2002, it officially declared Sept. 21 as a permanent date for the International Day of Peace. In preparation, here are five beautiful jazz performances that celebrate the spirit of the occasion.
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Make Peace, Make Jazz
from Blowin' the Blues Away
Over his long career, Horace Silver has worked with many great musicians. In a recent interview, the pianist was asked to name his favorite collaborators, and he replied, "One of the greatest bands I ever led was the Junior Cook-Blue Mitchell band with Louis Hayes on drums and Gene Taylor on bass." That's the band you'll hear with Silver on this 1959 recording of one of his most enduring compositions.
In 2000, Norah Jones was one of many young musicians gigging around New York and hoping to get a record deal someday. Toward that end, she recorded a six-song demo which resulted in her storied contract with Blue Note Records and included this beautiful vocal version of Horace Silver's song. The demo recording eventually saw limited release as a six-song EP titled First Sessions, which is now out of print. Luckily, though, her version of "Peace" still survives on a few collections of holiday music.
from Everybody Digs Bill Evans [Keepnews Collection]
Piano genius Bill Evans first recorded this solo piano piece on his second release as a leader, 1958's Everybody Digs Bill Evans. Apparently, Evans originally conceived "Peace Piece" as an extended introduction to Leonard Bernstein's song "Some Other Time," but soon saw that it was strong enough to stand on its own. It has since become a jazz standard, but nobody plays it like the man who wrote it.
In 2006, two of the most important musicians in contemporary jazz (guitarist Pat Metheny and pianist Brad Mehldau) finally got together for a recording session. Metheny/Mehldau was the result, a CD of primarily duet performances widely regarded as the finest jazz guitar/piano pairing since the Jim Hall/Bill Evans recordings of the 1960s. Metheny's composition, "Make Peace," stands as one of the CD's highlights.
Although the word "peace" isn't in the title of the song, peace resides in the heart and soul of this transcendent music, written and performed by South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim in a septet setting that includes Ricky Ford (tenor sax), Charles Davis (baritone sax), Carlos Ward (flute), Ben Riley (drums) and David Williams (bass). At various times throughout the group's gorgeous performance, the music reflects serenity, yearning, hope, healing, melancholy and joy. But the overall effect of the song is a deep, ancient and abiding sense of peace.