UNESCO—short for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization—and its Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock (pictured above) have announced the imminent arrival of the first annual International Jazz Day, which, beginning this year, will be held every year on April 30. Created in partnership with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, the initiative will foster the teaching of jazz with a particular emphasis placed on children from disadvantaged communities in classrooms around the world, and will be offered to all 195 member states of UNESCO.
In an address to UNESCO officials, Herbie Hancock said, “Please take a moment and envision one day every year where jazz is celebrated, studied, and performed around the world for 24 hours straight. A collaboration among jazz icons, scholars, composers, musicians, dancers, writers, and thinkers who embrace the beauty, spirit, and principles of jazz, all of them freely sharing experiences and performances in our big cities and in our small towns, all across our seven continents.” He went on to say, “Music has always served as a bridge between different cultures; and no musical art form is more effective as a diplomatic tool than jazz.”
To mark the event, all-star concerts are scheduled in Paris, New Orleans and New York City. The celebration will kick-off on April 27 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris with a daylong series of jazz education programs and performances. An evening concert will feature Hancock, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Marcus Miller, Hugh Masekela, Lionel Loueke, Tania Maria, Barbara Hendricks, Gerald Clayton, Terri Lyne Carrington and others.
Monday, April 30, will begin with a sunrise concert in New Orleans’ Congo Square. The event will feature Hancock and a number of jazz luminaries, including Dianne Reeves, New Orleans natives Terence Blanchard, Ellis Marsalis, the Treme Brass Band, Dr. Michael White, Kermit Ruffins, Bill Summers and others.
The global celebration will conclude in New York City at the United Nations General Assembly Hall with a sunset concert featuring Richard Bona (Cameroon), Dee Dee Bridgewater, Danilo Perez, Jack DeJohnette, Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Heath, Zakir Hussain (India), Angelique Kidjo (Benin), Lang Lang (China), Romero Lubambo (Brazil), Shankar Mahadevan (India), Wynton Marsalis, Hugh Masekela (South Africa), Christian McBride, Dianne Reeves, Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding, Hiromi Uehara (Japan) and others to be announced. George Duke will serve as musical director. Confirmed co-hosts include Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Quincy Jones.
The concert from the United Nations will be streamed live worldwide via the United Nations and UNESCO websites, and will also be post-broadcast on United Nations Radio.
For more information about International Jazz Day, go www.unesco.org/days/jazzday.