International Jazz Day Swings Big Events for 10th Anniversary


A cavalcade of stars will be performing on Friday, April 30.

(Photo: Courtesy International Jazz Day)

The 10th annual International Jazz Day will be celebrated Friday, April 30, and this year’s event promises to be more special than ever. It’s been a long year of improvising in life as well as in music, so with more vaccinations and a more positive outlook, the world’s stages are showing off. And the best part is, they will be broadcasting much of it across a wide variety of formats.

The big event this year, a global concert hosted by Michael Douglas, will feature dozens of artists including Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller, Andra Day, Dee Dee Bridgewater, John McLaughlin, Dianne Reeves and Joe Lovano. As you will see, that’s just scratching the surface.

Beginning at 5 p.m. Eastern/2 p.m. Pacific Time, artists will perform from around the globe for the event, with Herbie Hancock serving as artistic director and John Beasley as musical director. In New York, performers include an international blend including saxophonists Kenny Garrett, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Joe Lovano, Antonio Sánchez and Melissa Aldana; bassists James Genus and Massimo Biolcati; pianists A Bu, Cyrus Chestnut, Amina Figarova; vocalists Roberta Gambarini and Veronica Swift; vibraphonist Stefon Harris; and trumpeter Ingrid Jensen.

In Los Angeles, Hancock will be joined by drummers Alex Acuña and Justin Tyson; flutist Justo Almario; vocalists Bridgewater, Day, Reeves and Jonathan Butler; guitarists Mahmoud Chouki and Romero Lubambo; pianist Gerald Clayton; bassists Miller and Ben Williams; and trombonist Francisco Torres.

That’s just for starters.

Internationally, multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier will perform from London, saxophonist Igor Butman from Moscow, trumpeter Mandisi Dyantyis from South Africa, pianist Ivan Lins from his hometown of Rio de Janeiro, guitarist McLaughlin from Monaco, trumpeter James Morrison from Australia and vocalist Angélique Kidjo from the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

Following the program, PBS will air a two-hour retrospective of the past decade of International Jazz Days featuring Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, Chaka Khan, Annie Lenox, Sting and others.

Find out where to view here.

In addition to the main international event, a variety of strong regional events will take place.

In Boston, WGBH, the city’s leading cultural broadcaster, will be presenting JazzNOW: No Borders, a free live virtual performance featuring the Jazz World Trio with Argentinian drummer Guillermo Nojechowicz, Swedish bassist Bruno Råberg and South African pianist Witness Matlou. The trio has international roots, but now calls Boston home. The show will be hosted by Eric Jackson, one of the deans of jazz radio. Check it out here.

On the West Coast, San Jose Jazz will be using its new SJZ Break Room to present the SJZ New Works Fest 2021. The festival runs April 29 through May 8, with Grammy winner Oran Etkin headlining on April 30. Check it out here.

In the Midwest, Chicago’s Wide World of Jazz will be on display. Presented by the Jazz Institute of Chicago and the Fulton Street Collective, the event features Tatsu Aoki & Kioto Aoki, Grazyna Auguscik and John Kregor, Fareed Haque, Liza Micelli and Freddy Quintero and Juan Pastor and Stu Minderman. For more information, click here.

Jazzahead!, the annual gathering of the jazz industry in Bremen, Germany, will be virtual during the week and will celebrate Jazz Day with a performance by Canadian pianist Kris Davis and the band FYEAR. Get more information here.

For the jazz education world, the Jazz Education Network will be presenting an Ask Me Anything (AMA) Mega Event with saxophonist Tia Fuller, drummer Sherrie Maricle, trumpeter Sean Jones, vocalist Trinice Robinson-Martin and trombonist Francisco Torres. Register here.

International Jazz Day was officially designated by the United Nations and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and is recognized on the official calendars of both the UN and UNESCO. International Jazz Day highlights jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe. The Herbie Hancock Institute was instrumental in establishing International Jazz Day, and assembling each year’s lineup. Toyota serves as the lead partner for this year’s celebration. DB

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