Following thousands of jazz events taking place in 195 countries on all seven continents, International Jazz Day 2019 came to a thrilling close this evening in Melbourne, Australia with an extraordinary All-Star Global Concert at the Melbourne Arts Centre’s renowned Hamer Hall.
Led by artistic co-directors Herbie Hancock (USA) and James Morrison (Australia), and musical director John Beasley (USA), the concert was streamed live by the United Nations and UNESCO and on www.jazzday.com. It featured riveting performances by over 30 international artists: Cieavash Arian (Iran), William Barton (Australia), Brian Blade (USA), A Bu (China), Igor Butman (Russian Federation), Theo Croker (USA), Joey DeFrancesco (USA), Eli Degibri (Israel), Kurt Elling (USA), James Genus (USA), Paul Grabowsky (Australia), Antonio Hart (USA), Matthew Jodrell (Australia), Aditya Kalyanpur (India), Ledisi (USA), Jane Monheit (USA), James Muller (Australia), Eijiro Nakagawa (Japan), Mark Nightingale (United Kingdom), Jeff Parker (USA), Chico Pinheiro (Brazil), Tineke Postma (Netherlands), Eric Reed (USA), Antonio Sánchez (Mexico), Somi (USA), Ben Williams (USA), Lizz Wright (USA) and Tarek Yamani (Lebanon).
The All-Star Global Concert opening performance showcased two of Australia’s most beloved musicians: didgeridoo player William Barton and trumpeter James Morrison. Vocalist Jane Monheit later joined forces with Brazilian guitarist/vocalist Chico Pinheiro on Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Brazilian jazz classic “Waters of March.” Ledisi brought the house down with her spine-tingling vocals on “Try a Little Tenderness.” Backing her was a 10-piece band that included a stellar horn section with Theo Croker, Eli Degibri, Matthew Jodrell, Eijiro Nakagawa and Tineke Postma. A Jazz Day tradition, the All-Star Global Concert concluded with the entire cast contributing to a global jazz-inspired rendition of John Lennon’s peace anthem, “Imagine.”
In addition, two weeks of jazz performances and educational outreach programming took place in cities across the International Jazz Day 2019 host country of Australia. Thousands of students in Sydney’s New South Wales public schools took part in jazz education programs led by Herbie Hancock, James Morrison, Antonio Hart and the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance Fellows at the Sydney Opera House. Melbourne’s extensive Jazz Day festivities included master classes at the Melbourne Conservatorium; and workshops conducted by Eric Reed, Tarek Yamani, and A Bu, among others. Other highlights included a special Jazz Day performance at the Adelaide Festival Centre, five days of all-inclusive street parades on King Street in Brisbane, and a “Women in Jazz” celebration in Perth.
Celebrated around the globe each year on April 30, International Jazz Day highlights the power of jazz as a force for freedom and creativity, promotes intercultural dialogue through respect and understanding, and unites people from all corners of the globe. Presented in partnership with the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, the day is recognized on the official calendars of both UNESCO and the United Nations.
The Global Host City for International Jazz Day in 2020 is Cape Town, South Africa.