Herbie Hancock has announced plans for the launch of an International celebration of jazz, and plans to center the diplomatic worldwide event around the first weekend of this year’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The official kick-off will be on April 27 with an all-day program at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris that will include master classes, roundtable discussions and improvisational workshops. An evening concert will feature Hancock, Dee Dee Bridgewater, South Africa’s Hugh Masekela and Brazil’s Tania Maria, among others.
For our intents and purposes and those visiting the city for Jazz Fest, Hancock will begin the official April 30 celebrations with a sunrise concert in Congo Square, the birthplace of jazz, on the Monday morning after the first weekend of the city’s Jazz and Heritage Festival.
The once-in-a-lifetime sunrise show will include local jazz luminaries Terence Blanchard, Ellis Marsalis, Dr. Michael White, Kermit Ruffins and the Treme Brass Brand. Hancock plans to perform his funky standard “Watermelon Man” with high school students from around the world via an Internet link.
Next, Hancock will jet off to NYC for another sunset all-star jazz concert for the international diplomatic corps at the U.N. General Assembly Hall, to be hosted by a star-studded cast of Morgan Freeman, Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas and Quincy Jones. The concert will be streamed live via the U.N. and UNESCO websites. Big time players in support of keeping jazz alive. Nothing bad about that.
The NYC lineup music lineup is outstanding and will include Hancock, Bridgewater, Wynton Marsalis, Wayne Shorter, Christian McBride, Esperanza Spalding, Jack DeJohnette, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi and Jimmy Heath from the U.S. and these Americans will be joined by an international cast of musicians spanning the globe and different genres, including Richard Bona (Cameroon), Hiromi Uehara (Japan), Zakir Hussain (India), Angelique Kidjo (Benin), Lang Lang (China), and Romero Lubambo (Brazil).
“I hope that this day spreads the joy of spontaneous creation that exists in this music,” Hancock said. “My feeling is that jazz will be getting its just due.”