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Celebrate International Jazz Day with these grooves

This American art form is played by artists around the world.

Esperanza SpaldingEsperanza SpaldingEsperanza Spalding is just one of the many young artists bringing jazz into the 21st century. (Photo: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Caring Across Generations)

Jazz is a music style that can truly be called American, and it's played by gifted musicians around the world. Emphasizing that point, today is International Jazz Day, which UNESCO started in 2011 to "highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe." The organization is sponsoring an all-star concert in Paris, which it is streaming live:


Here are a few examples of sterling jazz performances by musicians from countries you might not expect would be aficionados of the form. Note the freedom and warmth present in the videos below; these people know how to groove, and it shows.

Esperanza Spalding – 'Tell Him'


When Esperanza Spalding won the Grammy for Best New Artist in 2011, most people responded by saying "who?" But one listen to the Portland, Ore., native's smooth bass and silky voice reveals she is a fantastic young talent. Here, she performs the song "Tell Him" at the 2009 White House Poetry Jam.

Ester Rada – 'Feeling Good'


Israeli native Ester Rada's singing style pays tribute to Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald, and there's no better evidence than her chill but powerful rendition of Simone's "Feeling Good," which she performs here at the 2014 Montreal Jazz Festival.

Guillaume Perret and Electric Epic – 'Shoebox'


Of course, modern jazz is also international, and this video for French saxophonist Guillaume Perret's song "Shoebox" is about as far from Nina Simone as you can get. But jazz is still jazz, even if there is fuzzy electric guitar and more rock-oriented instruments on the track.

Antonio Farao – 'Far Out'


Farao is an Italian jazz pianist. According to his bio, Farao combines Mediterranean sounds with the usual African-American jazz influences into his modern compositions. When he tours the U.S., he plays with a trio of American jazz musicians, but in the video above, he's with his Italian bandmates.

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