As jazz is one of the most responsive-to-the-moment art forms there is, it makes sense that this year’s annual international Jazz Day (April 30) celebration would take on a different format than ever before.
In a world taking on the COVID-19 pandemic through social distancing and other extraordinary measures that have temporarily halted art and cultural events around the globe, this year’s all-star lineup put forth a spectacular two-hour virtual event, making music that literally transcended the borders of space and time.
Jazz Day founder and ICAP co-president Herbie Hancock introduced the show by dedicating it to all the first responders continually risking everything to keep the world safe: “We are sending out our deepest appreciation and gratitude to our heroes—the essential workers putting their lives on the front lines for total strangers.”
Among the many accomplished global musicians on the virtual Jazz Day schedule were Marcus Miller, Lang Lang, Charlie Puth, Cécile McLorin Salvant, John McLaughlin, Dianne Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Sibongile Khumalo, Alune Wade, John Beasley, Ben Williams, Lizz Wright, John Scofield, Igor Butman, Evgeny Pobozhiy, Youn Sun Nah, A Bu, Jane Monheit, and Joey DeFrancesco.
You can enjoy this year’s Jazz Day celebration here:
In addition to the main event, there were a multitude of jazz education master classes held in a variety of languages including, Russian, Mandarin, Arabic, Spanish, and French, in addition to English. And you can view these classes here:
As explained on the Jazz Day website (jazzday.com): “In December 2012, the United Nations General Assembly formally welcomed the decision by the UNESCO General Conference to proclaim April 30 as International Jazz Day. The United Nations and UNESCO (the UN cultural organization) now both recognize International Jazz Day on their official calendars.
Audrey Azoulay, head of UNESCO, spoke of the poignant timeliness of this year’s event, saying: “It is the magic of jazz that we need now, at a time when we are all reminded of the cardinal importance of music—and indeed, of all the arts—in our lives”.
Echoing these sentiments in the days leading up to this year’s unique event, Mr. Hancock, a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador said:
“These are unprecedented times for world citizens, and we are most grateful for the support, understanding and partnership of our Jazz Day community. Armed with optimism, patience and grace, we’ll work through these challenges as families, communities, countries and as a stronger united world. Now more than ever before, let’s band together and spread the ethics of Jazz Day’s global movement around the planet and use this as a golden opportunity for humankind to reconnect, especially in the midst of all this isolation and uncertainty.”