Meet Our Organizers
Constant Boty, Côte d’Ivoire
- Location: Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire (previously Accra, Ghana)
- Participating Years: 2014 – present
- Event focus: Performance, education, cultural exchange
Ivorian Constant Boty is among a select group of West African musicians who have masterfully balanced and blended the often contradictory elements of innovation and tradition. Boty has found his niche perfecting a fine mix of West African folkloric music, European classical, jazz, and electronic music, having recorded with artists as diverse as saxophonist Greg Osby, pianists James Weidman and Benito Gonzalez, drummers Poogie Bell and Jerome Jennings, clarinetist Oran Etkin, bassist Solomon Dorsey, and the late trombonist Calvin Jones, among others,
Boty regularly performs in countries across Africa, both as a solo act and with his band, the Guru Guru Project. The group released its debut album, Guru Guru, in 2015 to critical acclaim, with a second release, Comme Ci, Comme Ça, due in 2018.
Trained as a classical guitarist at the Abidjan High Institute of Arts, Boty is also an enthusiastic and experienced music educator, dedicated to sharing his craft with the next generation. He has taught guitar and West African tribal drumming at the German Swiss International School in Accra for the past five years, and conducts music workshops on jazz and West African folkloric music all over Europe and Africa.
Boty first became involved in International Jazz Day in 2014 while living in Accra. Under the patronage of the local UNESCO office, Boty’s company, Mevicon Services, was charged with curating the next four Jazz Day celebrations, with Boty himself serving as musical director. The events in Accra proved highly successful, spanning concerts, radio appearances, educational workshops, and cultural exchanges involving local Ghanaian artists and visiting musicians from around the world.
Now relocated to Cote d’Ivoire, Boty plans to continue his International Jazz Day involvement with an event in either the capital city Abidjan or his hometown, Bouaflé. He hopes to work with students to celebrate Zaouli, the popular music and dance of the indigenous Guro communities in Bouaflé. Zaouli was inscribed in 2017 on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In addition, Boty hopes to present a concert showcasing West African tribal music alongside standard American jazz.
Most of all, though, Boty views International Jazz Day as an opportunity for healing. Remarking upon the coming edition, he says that he “would like to use this opportunity to create a cultural event that uses the virtues of jazz to promote reconciliation and cooperation amongst people.”