By A.D. McKenzie
PARIS (IDN | SWAN) – The “musically vibrant and culturally rich city” of Havana, Cuba, will host the main concert of this year’s International Jazz Day, to be celebrated worldwide on April 30, according to the Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
In a joint announcement, the agency’s director-general Irina Bokova and American jazz musician Herbie Hancock (a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador) said that the day will culminate with an All-Star Global Concert presented at the Gran Teatro de La Habana Alicia Alonso.
The show will take place under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture of Cuba, the Cuban Institute of Music and the Cuban National Commission for UNESCO, and it will be live streamed by the UN agency.
Hancock and legendary Cuban musician Chucho Valdés will serve as the concert’s artistic directors, while U.S. pianist, arranger and composer John Beasley and Cuban pianist Emilio Vega will be the musical co-directors. The show will also feature an “extraordinary array of artists from around the world paying tribute to the international art form of jazz”, said UNESCO.
The list of performers include Richard Bona, Kenny Garrett, Marcus Miller and Esperanza Spalding of the United States; Till Brönner of Germany; A Bu of China; Igor Butman of the Russian Federation; Takuya Kuroda of Japan; Dhafer Youssef of Tunisia; and many 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,” Bokova said in a statement. “This year’s focus on Cuba is testament to the power of jazz to build bridges and join women and men together around shared values and aspirations.”
The aim of International Jazz Day – now in its sixth edition – is to highlight the “power of jazz as a force for freedom and creativity”, UNESCO said.
It also seeks to "promote intercultural dialogue through respect and understanding” and unite people from “all corners of the globe”.
Throughout the day, numerous musicians and educators from Cuba and around the world will participate in a range of free jazz performances, master classes, improvisational workshops, jam sessions and community outreach initiatives, said the UN the agency.
“Programmes will take place at schools, arts venues, community centres, jazz clubs and parks across the city of Havana and throughout Cuba beginning on Monday, April 24 and leading up to the festivities on April 30.”
The organisers said that these programmes “will be among the thousands of International Jazz Day live performances, educational activities and community service programmes taking place in more than 190 countries on all continents.”
Speaking about the day and Havana’s role, Hancock 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.”
The Havana show comes five months after the death of former Cuban leader and revolutionary Fidel Castro, and after that of jazz vocalist Al Jarreau who performed in earlier events.
Last year, the Global Concert took place at the White House, hosted by then President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. [IDN-InDepthNews – 15 April 2017]
Note: This article first appeared on April 15, 2017 in SWAN – Southern World Arts News – an online cultural magazine devoted to the arts of the global South, and is being reproduced by arrangement with the editor.
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Image credit: UNESCO
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