Written by Nod Knowles and Reiner Michalke
(Adopted at the Europe Jazz Network General Assembly, Budapest, October 2004)
In recent decades, contemporary jazz and improvised musics in Europe have experienced breathtaking developments.
The diverse European expressions of jazz, whilst inspired by respect for the American pioneers, have found ideal conditions to develop in Europe and have resounded with their own cultural identities.
The main characteristic of jazz, its ability to integrate an array of human emotions through spontaneous composition and ever-flexible musical structures, has broken through barriers of language, race and class.
European jazz already functions as a catalyst between different cultural heritages from local and migrant sources and between known and newly-discovered musical forms.
Its openness and thirst for diversity is a permanent self-protection against any kind of nationalism.
As an artform, jazz has always produced its best artistic results at the meeting point of cultures and social structures in transition.
Taking its full place among the other arts, jazz is able to reflect the development of a constantly evolving Europe at the beginning of the 21st century which is characterised by a diversity of regions, languages and cultural heritages and to stimulate preparedness for mobility and flexibility.
Improvisation in music, as a non-verbal artform, allows creators of different origins to communicate immediately and to create exciting musical experiences for audiences of all generations.
It demonstrates the ability to bring identities together in collaboration rather than in conflict. An essential balance between self-expression and collective responsibility also makes jazz an ideal medium for cultural education.
Jazz affirms its place alongside the other arts and offers a unique contribution to the future health of European society.