International Jazz Day To Be Celebrated with Concerts Around the World

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Herbie Hancock (left) and Igor Butman shake hands after their performance during the International Jazz Day 2015 Global Concert at UNESCO on April 30, 2015, in Paris, France.

(Photo: Kristy Sparow/Getty Images for Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz)

The sixth annual International Jazz Day will be celebrated worldwide on Sunday, April 30, and, just as in years past, the day will feature an all-star concert in the Global Host City.

Sunday’s concert will take place in Havana, Cuba, at the Gran Teatro de La Habana Alicia Alonso. The concert will be presented under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture of Cuba, the Cuban Institute of Music and the Cuban National Commission for UNESCO. The concert will be live streamed by UNESCO and will feature an extraordinary array of artists from around the world. (The concert will be streamed here).

In partnership with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, International Jazz Day highlights the power of jazz as a force for freedom and creativity, promotes intercultural dialogue through respect and understanding, and unites people from all corners of the globe. The day is recognized on the official calendars of both UNESCO and the United Nations.

Dubbed the “All-Star Global Concert,” the show in Havana will have Herbie Hancock and Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés serving as the artistic directors, and John Beasley and Emilio Vega as the evening’s musical co-directors.

The concert will feature performances by a diverse, international roster of artists, including Ambrose Akinmusire (United States), Carl Allen (United States), Pancho Amat (Cuba), Marc Antoine (France), Richard Bona (Cameroon), Till Brönner (Germany), A Bu (China), Igor Butman (Russian Federation), Bobby Carcassés (Cuba), Regina Carter (United States), Kurt Elling (United States), Kenny Garrett (United States), Antonio Hart (United States), Takuya Kuroda (Japan), Ivan Lins (Brazil), Sixto Llorente (Cuba), César López (Cuba), Marcus Miller (United States), Youn Sun Nah (Republic of Korea), Julio Padrón (Cuba), Gianluca Petrella (Italy), Gonzalo Rubalcaba (Cuba), Antonio Sánchez (Mexico), Christian Sands (United States), Esperanza Spalding (United States), Ben Williams (United States), Tarek Yamani (Lebanon), Dhafer Youssef (Tunisia) and others.

“UNESCO is proud to be associated once again with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, as well as with the Instituto Cubano de la Música, to raise the flag for jazz, for freedom, for creativity, for diversity and for unity,” said Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO.

Many acclaimed musicians and educators from Cuba and around the world will participate in jazz performances, master classes, improvisational workshops, jam sessions and community outreach initiatives. Programs will take place in schools, arts venues, community centers, jazz clubs and parks across the city of Havana and throughout Cuba on April 24–30.

Additionally, jazz history and education programs will be provided for tens of thousands of students in more than 11,000 schools across Cuba. These programs will be among the thousands of International Jazz Day live performances, educational activities and community service programs taking place in more than 190 countries on all continents.

Herbie Hancock, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue, said: “Afro-Cuban jazz and its rich history have played a pivotal role in the evolution and enrichment of the entire jazz genre. The incomparable trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie—along with beloved Cuban musicians Mario Bauzá, Machito and Chano Pozo—infused American jazz with Afro-Cuban rhythms to create a brand new, energetic sound that defined modern music. … On behalf of the worldwide family of jazz musicians, educators and enthusiasts, I would like to thank the citizens of Havana and Cuba for their enormous support of this truly global musical art form.”

The celebration in Havana marks the 70th anniversary of Cuba’s accession to UNESCO and the foundation of the National Commission for UNESCO.

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