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Herbie Hancock-Hosted International Jazz Day 2020 Shifts to Virtual Celebration

International Jazz Day is the latest music event changing course in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

UPDATE: Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dianne Reeves, John McLaughlin, Jane Monheit, Ben Williams and John Beasley are among the global jazz stars that will perform during the virtual celebration of International Jazz Day 2020 on April 30. Originally slated to take place in Cape Town, South Africa on the same date, the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers of the ninth annual gathering to make the online transition.

Herbie Hancock — together with Morgan Freeman and Forest Whitaker — will host the daylong affair, highlighted by the All-Star Global Concert featuring the aforementioned acts. The concert will stream live on jazzday.com beginning at 3 p.m. ET. Earlier in the day, a free series of educational masterclasses, children’s activities and conversations will be available on the same site. Session participants will include A Bu (China), Bridgewater (U.S.), Igor Butman (Russia), Oran Etkin (Israel), Lwanda Gogwana (South Africa), Sibongile Khumalo (South Africa), Marcus Miller (U.S.), Danilo Pérez (Panama) and Tarek Yamani (Lebanon).

A panel hosted by Nate Chinen, director of editorial content for New York City’s WBGO and chief jazz contributor to NPR Music, rounds out the day’s program slate. NPR will also co-host a live stream of the International Jazz Day activities.

Original story: International Jazz Day — including its All-Star Global Concert on April 30 — is the latest music event changing course in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The ninth annual worldwide celebration was slated to take place in Cape Town and other cities across South Africa during the last week of April.

However, partners and organizers of International Jazz Day are still planning to celebrate the occasion on April 30. They are issuing a call for artists and fans around the world to self-create video messages that will be featured in a free livestream worldwide as part of virtual programming that’s currently being planned.

Further details about the livestream and additional programming that day, which will include a forum with acclaimed artists and webcasts of exclusive content, will be announced in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, organizers in 195 countries around the world who had registered events for International Jazz Day 2020 are being asked to participate virtually.


Herbie Hancock—UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue and co-chair of International Jazz Day—stated in a press release, “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.”

The release also notes that many partners of International Jazz Day have already rescheduled their programs for a later date that will depend on the abatement of the pandemic. When these postponed events do take place, they will be acknowledged as official celebrations of International Jazz Day.

In addition to the Hancock Institute of Jazz, support for 2020 International Jazz Day also involves the following parties: South African Department of Sports, Arts and Culture; South African Tourism; the South African National Commission for UNESCO; the City of Cape Town, the SPIN Foundation; local partners and community leaders in South Africa; and the worldwide International Jazz Day community.