Friday 1 May 2015


PARIS - The fourth annual International Jazz Day was celebrated on April 30, with events around the world, amid appeals for peace, unity and dialogue.

"Each of us is equal. All of us inhabit this place we call home," said American jazz legend Herbie Hancock. "We must move mountains to find solutions to our incredible challenges."

Some of the artists participating. (Photo: UNESCO)
After Osaka, Japan, last year, the 2015 Global Host City was Paris, and jazz lovers got to enjoy a daylong series of performances and educational programs in different districts of the French capital. The presentations included workshops, master classes, jam sessions and panel discussions.

Coinciding with UNESCO’s 70th anniversary celebration, the day's main event was an “All-Star Global Concert” which took place in a packed auditorium at the UN cultural agency’s headquarters. It featured energetic and memorable performances from some 30 renowned artists.

Among them were pianists Hancock, John Beasley (the show's musical director), Antonio Faraò and A Bu; trumpeters Till Brönner, Ibrahim Maalouf, Hugh Masekela and Claudio Roditi; vocalists Dee Dee Bridgewater, Al Jarreau, Annie Lennox, Rudy Pérez and Dianne Reeves; saxophonists Igor Butman, Ravi Coltrane, Femi Kuti, Guillaume Perret and Wayne Shorter; bassists James Genus and Marcus Miller; guitarist Lee Ritenour; drummer Terri Lyne Carrington; percussionist Mino Cinelu; harmonica player Grégoire Maret; and oud virtuoso Dhafer Youssef.

The concert was webcast live to viewers around the world, and has been made available for on-demand viewing, according to UNESCO.

Singer Dee Dee Bridgewater (left)
and daughter China Moses
at the first Int'l Jazz Day, 2012.
(Photo: McKenzie)
International Jazz Day is Hancock's brainchild, presented each year by UNESCO in partnership with the U.S.-based Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. The organisers say the Day is aimed at encouraging and highlighting the “power of jazz as a force for freedom and creativity”. It is also meant to promote “intercultural dialogue through respect and understanding, uniting people from all corners of the globe”.

At the launch, UNESCO’s Director-General Irena Bokova said: “Jazz means dialogue, reaching out to others, bringing everyone on board. It means respecting the human rights and dignity of every woman and man, no matter their background. It means understanding others, letting them speak, listening in the spirit of respect.

"All this is why we join together to celebrate jazz; this music of freedom is a force for peace, and its messages have never been more vital than they are today, in times of turbulence,” she added.

Although speakers did not directly mention the civil unrest in Baltimore, Maryland, that followed the funeral of an African-American man who died in police custody, the protests were clearly on everyone's mind, with the themes of human rights, justice and equality being reiterated.

At the end of the concert, Hancock announced that the next International Jazz Day would be hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, at the White House in Washington, D.C.

(For a more complete article by SWAN and Inter Press Service (IPS), please go to:

Annie Lennox rocked the house. (Photo: McKenzie)
Wayne Shorter (left) and bassist Ben Williams. (Photo: McKenzie)