Thousands of Performances and Events Take Place in 195 Countries on All Continents
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton Joins Herbie Hancock for Historic Conversation about Jazz
Washington, DC, April 30 — The 12th annual International Jazz Day came to a thrilling close with a spectacular All-Star Global Concert featuring performances from Beijing, Beirut, Johannesburg, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Vienna and beyond. The All-Star Global Concert showcased celebrated jazz artists including Cyrille Aimée (France), Ambrose Akinmusire (USA), Thana Alexa (Croatia), John Beasley (USA), Dee Dee Bridgewater (USA), Musekiwa Chingodza (Zimbabwe), Emmet Cohen (USA), Kurt Elling (USA), Oran Etkin (Israel), Tom Gansch (Austria), Christian McBride (USA), Sérgio Mendes (Brazil), Marcus Miller (USA), Thandi Ntuli (South Africa), Dianne Reeves (USA), Antonio Sánchez (Mexico), Somi (Rwanda) and many others.
To mark International Jazz Day 2023, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock met for an historic conversation about the impact of jazz on their lives and humanity. The two friends reminisced about how they fell in love with jazz and which musicians have most captivated them over the years. They shared stories of how jazz has opened doors across the globe and how their musical experiences helped deepen their own personal and professional growth. Clinton and Hancock connected on the power that jazz can have in shaping our world for the better.
The All-Star Global Concert opened with acclaimed vocalist Somi and her remarkably unique rendition of “House of the Rising Sun” with John Beasley and Ben Williams. The Blue Note China Jazz Orchestra gave a rousing take on the Gershwin standard, “Fascinating Rhythm.” From Casablanca, Morocco, JazzWomenAfrica performed its composition “Bull Door,” sharing musical traditions of Senegal, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Togo and Ghana. Vocalist Yumi Park and Brazilian pianist Marcos Ariel delivered an exhilarating presentation of “Mas Que Nada” from Rio de Janeiro. Oran Etkin and Mbira player Musekiwa Chingodza provided a heartwarming performance from the streets of rural Zimbabwe. Herbie Hancock enlisted Ambrose Akinmusire and Walter Smith, III to perform Wayne Shorter’s iconic composition, “Footprints.” Dianne Reeves brought the evening to a gorgeous close with her stunning rendition of Horace Silver’s “Peace.”
UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay noted, “Today, let us pay tribute to the genius of the creators and musicians who have been defining and redefining jazz for over a century, from Ella Fitzgerald to Manu Dibango. But let us also commit to supporting jazz players across the globe – so that the universal message of peace and humanity conveyed by jazz music resonates worldwide.”
UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock said, “Respect for human dignity is firmly integrated into the DNA of jazz. International Jazz Day honors this important value by embracing the peace and freedom that jazz so eloquently proclaims. And that is the spirit of jazz – finding delight in diversity and creating harmony out of our differences.”
The International Jazz Day 2023 celebration included thousands of jazz performances, jam sessions, master classes, education and community outreach initiatives, and other special events in 195 countries and all 50 U.S. states. Additionally, UNESCO and the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz presented educational programs in five languages.
Major support for International Jazz Day 2023 is provided by the Doris Duke Foundation, with additional, generous support from the Ford Foundation. United Airlines, the airline partner of International Jazz Day, provided air transportation and additional support for artists and educators.
Each year on April 30, International Jazz Day brings together countries and communities on all continents to highlight the power of jazz as a force for freedom and creativity, promote intercultural dialogue through respect and understanding, and unite people throughout the world. International Jazz Day was adopted by the UNESCO Member Nations on the initiative of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock, who co-chairs the annual celebration with UNESCO Director-GeneralAudrey Azoulay. Presented in partnership with the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, the day is recognized on the official calendars of UNESCO and the United Nations.