UNESCO to mark Int'l Jazz Day in Cuba to promote dialogue, diversity

CNC
Added On April 30, 2017

HAVANA, April 29 (Xinhua) -- In a bid to build bridges through music, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will celebrate International Jazz Day on April 30 with a global concert that will stream live from the host city of Havana, Cuba.
 
The day celebrates "the international art form of jazz and its power to promote dialogue among cultures, to make the most of diversity, to deepen respect for human rights and all forms of expression," said UNESCO's director general, Irina Bokova, who traveled to Havana to promote this year's event.
 
"For us jazz is not only a beautiful genre, it is more of an intercultural dialogue, music for human dignity, human rights and modern times," Bokova told reporters at a press conference.
 
Cuba's capital was chosen to host the 6th edition of the celebration in part because of its many great musicians and Latin jazz heritage, said Bokova, who was accompanied by jazz greats Chucho Valdes and Herbie Hancock.
 
"Havana is a natural city of music and cultural heritage, and we also chose to celebrate it here because Cuba this year marks the 70th anniversary of establishing relations with UNESCO," she added.
 
Jazz has become a universal language the world really needs due to today's many social and economic conflicts, she said.
 
UNESCO has partnered once again with the U.S.-based Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, as well as with the Cuban Ministry of Culture, in organizing the event.
In the past three decades, the ties of cooperation between UNESCO and Cuba have grown "deep roots," said the UN official.
 
"Our regional office for all of Latin America and the Caribbean is in Cuba and this nation has a commitment to developing cultural diversity, protecting and conserving cultural heritage ... and the celebration of this day here is a proof of our strong ties," she said.
 
"Our elder and younger jazz musicians are living in a good era (for jazz) and the opportunity to celebrate International Jazz Day in Cuba is a really good accomplishment," Valdes said.
 
Valdes, along with Hancock, a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, will serve as artistic directors of what is being touted as an All-Star Global Concert at Havana's Alicia Alonso Grand Theater.
 
Hancock said it would be an honor to once again host International Jazz Day, especially in a "musical" country like Cuba, where there is "amazing talent."
 
"International Jazz Day has such significance because it points out the fact that music does not just belong to Americans or Cubans, this is a music that belongs to everyone all over the planet because it really reflects something much deeper than any particular culture," he said.
 
"This year's focus on Cuba is a testament to the power of jazz as we bring women and men together around shared values and aspirations," he added.
 
The concert will feature jazz talent from around the world, including Ambrose Akinmusire from the United States, Marc Antoine from France, Till Bronner from Germany, China's A Bu, Igor Butman from Russia, Ivan Lins from Brazil and others.
 
Apart from Valdes, Cuban musicians Bobby Carcasses, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Cesar Lopez, Ruy Lopez-Nussa, Orlando Valle and others will join their international counterparts.
 
Orlando Vistel, president of the Cuban Music Institute, said the concert will showcase Cuba's best jazz musicians and their "enormous" talent alongside "world-class" musicians.
 
"In jazz we have found a cultural meeting point not only with the U.S. but also with the world, because it has become a universal musical language. In the essence of jazz, we can find the spirit of Cuban music," he said.
 
In the lead up to the concert, acclaimed musicians and teachers from Cuba and around the world participated this week in free jazz performances, master classes, workshops, jam sessions and community outreach initiatives across Cuba.