Herbie Hancock, Chucho Valdes, Cassandra Wilson, Esperanza Spalding, Ambrose Akinmusire, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Marcus Miller are among the jazz luminaries taking part in an April 30 concert celebrating International Jazz Day in Havana, Cuba.
The sixth annual International Jazz Day brings jazz artists from around the globe together on April 30 to celebrate the power of jazz as a creative and cultural force. Previous host cities have included Osaka, Paris, Istanbul and Washington, D.C.
The event is coordinated by UNESCO and the Washington, D.C.-based Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz with both UNESCO and the United Nations recognizing April 30 as International Jazz Day on their official calendars.
In addition to the concert, which will take place at Havana’s historic Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso and be broadcast live on Cuban television and streamed live by UNESCO, the week leading up to April 30 will be filled with programs at more than 11,000 schools across Cuba, as well as workshops, master classes and jam sessions throughout clubs and parks in Havana. Smaller initiatives will take place in more than 190 countries to commemorate the day.
UNESCO and Thelonious Monk Institute survey various cities that have a history of jazz and have expressed interest in the event before UNESCO announces the final decision on each year’s host city, says Thelonious Monk Institute president Tom Carter. Havana has been on the list since the 2012 launch of International Jazz Day. “Jazz has been a huge force in Cuba and Afro-Cuban jazz has had such a significant impact worldwide,” Carter says. Plus, he adds that for years the Institute has worked on establishing relationships between young jazz artists in Cuba and in the U.S.
“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,” said Hancock, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for International Dialogue.
Also among the more than 50 artists participating in the concert are Kurt Elling, Regina Carter, Ivan Lins, Richard Bona, Bobby Carcasses, Marc Antoine, John Beasley and Emilio Vega. The concert will be open to the public as well as broadcast on screens outside the theater. Additionally, Carter says that BET will air a special in June as part of its Black Music Month programming and the concert will be offered to public television stations around the world for later broadcast.