International Jazz Day says thank you Melbourne, hello Cape Town
Melbourne, Australia, 30 April—Following thousands of jazz events taking place in 195 countries on all seven continents, International Jazz Day 2019 came to a thrilling close this evening in Melbourne, Australia with an extraordinary All-Star Global Concert at the Melbourne Arts Centre's renowned Hamer Hall. Led by artistic co-directors Herbie Hancock (USA) and James Morrison (Australia), and musical director John Beasley (USA), the concert was streamed live by the United Nations and UNESCO and on www.jazzday.com.
UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture Ernesto Ottone R. joined UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock in opening the concert. “Tonight, we celebrate the contagious energy and joy of this remarkable art form, as well as the values that it embodies – values of creativity, diversity and free expression, said Ottone R. “Jazz grew out of a longing for civil rights, for liberty, for human dignity. Today, jazz continues to give voice to the struggles and aspirations of millions of people,” he added.
The opening performance showcased two of Australia's most beloved musicians: didgeridoo player William Barton and trumpeter James Morrison. Vocalist Jane Monheit later joined forces with Brazilian guitarist/vocalist Chico Pinheiro on Antonio Carlos Jobim's Brazilian jazz classic "Waters of March." A Jazz Day tradition, the All-Star Global Concert concluded with the entire cast contributing to a global jazz-inspired rendition of John Lennon's peace anthem, "Imagine.” In total more than 30 international artists contributed their talents to a night to remember.
The concert was preceded by two weeks of jazz performances and educational outreach which took place in cities across Australia, the International Jazz Day 2019 host country. These included a special focus on indigenous language and aboriginal communities, in a tip of the hat to the International Year of Indigenous Languages. Will Barton hosted a masterclass where he reinterpreted classical jazz techniques
through traditional indigenous music on his didgeridoo. The Hard Knocks Choir, a musical ensemble composed of homeless peoples, highlighted the role of music to reach out to marginalized communities, fostering dignity and social cohesion in Australia.
Additionally, thousands of students in Sydney's New South Wales public schools took part in jazz education programs led by Herbie Hancock, James Morrison, Antonio Hart and the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance Fellows at the Sydney Opera House. Melbourne's extensive Jazz Day festivities included master classes at the Melbourne Conservatorium; and workshops conducted by Eric Reed, Tarek Yamani, and A Bu, among others. Other highlights included a special Jazz Day performance at the Adelaide Festival Centre, five days of all-inclusive street parades on King Street in Brisbane, and a "Women in Jazz" celebration in Perth.
The next stop for International Jazz Day will be Cape Town, South Africa next year. Professor Ihron Rensburg, longtime antiapartheid fighter and currently Chairperson of the South African National Commission for UNESCO said the global concert comes at a very important time for the country. “South Africa is undergoing a complex transition, calling for even more social cohesion, tolerance and unity in diversity. This is the message Jazz can bring forward – this is what Jazz is about, and South Africa can be a leader in this message.
Celebrated around the globe each year on 30 April, 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. Presented in partnership with UNESCO and the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, the day is recognized on the official calendars of both UNESCO and the United Nations.