Everybody on stage for International Jazz Day!

© Keith Tsuji/Getty Images for Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz
Roy Hargrove (L) and Esperanza Spalding perform on stage at the 2014 International Jazz Day Global Concert on April 30, 2014 in Osaka, Japan.

From Uruguay to the Island of Tonga and from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, the third International Jazz Day was celebrated on 30 April in more than 190 countries with over 100 concerts and jam sessions, conferences and screenings. Jazz could be heard in improbable places such as the McMurdo Antarctic research station while the International Space Station sent a message of peace to all the nations that celebrated the Day, which was created by UNESCO.

Osaka, Japan, was the official host city of International Jazz Day this year. It staged an all-star concert for an audience of 12,000 in the renowned Osaka Castle Park. The two-hour event featured internationally renowned artists: Toshiko Akiyoshi, John Beasley (musical director), Kris Bowers, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jonathan Butler, Terri Lyne Carrington, Theo Croker, Sheila E., Pete Escovedo, Roberta Gambarini, Kenny Garrett, James Genus, Shuichi Hidano, Roy Hargrove, Lalah Hathaway, Terumasa Hino, Chris Thomas King, Earl Klugh, Takuya Kuroda, Marcus Miller, T.S. Monk, Makoto Ozone, Courtney Pine, Gregory Porter, Troy Roberts, Claudio Roditi, Oumou Sangaré, John Scofield, Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding, Lew Tabackin, Steve Turre, Joe Louis Walker and Dionne Warwick.

Jazz lovers worldwide could experience the concert thanks to webcasts on the websites of UNESCO, jazzday.com, the U.S. State Department and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. Some of the proceeds from the event have been earmarked for victims of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Fukushima in 2011.

The official launch of the Day took place on 29 April with a traditional sake ceremony held in the presence of the Governor of Osaka, Ichiro Matsui, the mayor of Osaka City, Toru Hashimoto, and the Assistant Director-General of UNESCO for Strategic Planning, Hans d’Orville, who stressed the role of jazz as a “soft power” which can contribute to both cultural diversity and the rapprochement of cultures.

UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock, Chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, declared that “Jazz Day sends a message of optimism, self-respect, and the possibility for harmonious intercultural connections using jazz as a model for diplomacy.”

Urging his audience to join in and enjoy the concert, Herbie Hancock assured all present that Jazz has something to offer everyone. And his words proved true.

(Concert footage begins at 30:45)

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