Kickoff for the April 30th inaugural International Jazz Day sponsored jointly by UNESCO and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz is the April 27th concert streamed live from Paris and featuring a stellar line-up of jazz luminaries as well as a full day of coordinated live performances, master classes and discussions. Participating artists include UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock, Hugh Masekela, Dee Dee Bridgewater, George Benson, Marcus Miller, Barbara Hendricks and a host of other musical talents.
International Jazz Day itself will begin with a sunrise concert from Congo Square in New Orleans and end with a sunset concert at the United Nations General Assembly Hall in New York. Both concerts will be streamed live, the sunrise concert at 8am EDT, the sunset at 7:30pm EDT. Herbie Hancock is scheduled to appear at both and once again he will be joined by a galaxy of jazz stars from around the world—names like Terence Blanchard, Ellis Marsalis and Dianne Reeves in New Orleans, Candido, Robert Cray, Tony Bennett and Chaka Khan in New York. Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Quincy Jones are scheduled as co-hosts at the sunset concert.
Students and schools around the world have been invited to join in the festivities by playing the Hancock classic "Watermelon Man" along with Hancock at 8:15am EDT on the 30th. They are being asked to video their performances and upload them to youtube.com for posting on JazzDay.com. The site also offers a wide range of cultural and educational participation possibilities for individuals, groups and institutions.
International Jazz Day was proclaimed by the UNESCO General Conference back in November of 2011 as a means of fostering multi-cultural dialogue and promoting peace through art. Jazz was viewed historically as an art form that not only encouraged freedom of expression but provided an atmosphere that encouraged tolerance, cooperation and mutual understanding. International Jazz Day was seen as an opportunity to both celebrate the unique musical genre, but raise awareness of the need for intercultural dialogue and "mobilize the intellectual community, decision-makers, cultural entrepreneurs, cultural and educational institutions and the media to promote jazz-related values."