Sunday, 28 April 2013


Herbie Hancock
Some of the world's biggest jazz stars will be performing in Istanbul when the Turkish city hosts the main global event of International Jazz Day on April 30.

Observed worldwide, the day is aimed at bringing together communities, schools and groups to celebrate jazz, learn about its origins and experience the “beauty and spirit” of the music, says famed pianist Herbie Hancock, one of the driving forces behind the celebration.

Giving jazz its own day had long been Hancock’s dream, so when he was appointed a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in 2011, he proposed the idea to the organization, and the governing bodies adopted it unanimously. The first International Jazz Day was launched in Paris last year with a stellar concert at the agency’s headquarters.

In Istanbul, Hancock and fellow musician Wayne Shorter will kick things off by conducting an early morning performance for high school students. They will join their peers for an evening concert that will also feature pianists George Duke and Abdullah Ibrahim; singers Al Jarreau, Milton Nascimento, Joss Stone and Dianne Reeves; trumpeters Hugh Masekela and Imer Demirer; bassists Marcus Miller, Esperanza Spalding and Ben Williams; and drummers Terri Lyne Carrington and Vinnie Colaiuta, among others.

Bassist Marcus Miller (photo by F. Barrier)
“Istanbul, located between East and West, is the perfect host city and a wonderful choice for the concert,” said Neil Ford, director of communications for UNESCO.

“Jazz has become associated with freedom and with bringing people together,” he told SWAN. “From its American roots, it’s become a world-wide genre.”

The organizers are hoping that there will be no security threats on a “day of dialogue and peace where people can enjoy this uniquely creative music”, said Ford.

Jazz's role as a "form of communication that transcends differences" is also being highlighted in Turkey and around the world, as some 90 other countries will be celebrating the day as well. In France, more than 48 events will take place, including performances and jam sessions at jazz clubs in the capital Paris.

In Mexico, at least 10 jazz concerts are scheduled throughout the country, while in India, Jazz Goa will celebrate the day with a huge event featuring international jazz artists. Swaziland will host a “Jazz Across Borders and Cultures” program comprising workshops, jam sessions, and concerts over three days.

The Instanbul concert will be streamed live on the web via several sites, including that of the U.S.-based Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, a co-organizer of International Jazz Day.