20.04.2018 - UNESCO Office in Nairobi

East Africa joins in the global celebration of the Power of Music for International Jazz Day – 2018

Airelle Besson and Lionel Suarez will perform at the Alliance Française, Tanzania to celebrate International Jazz Day (c)Alliance Française

"Jazz has the power to make men forget their differences and come together… Jazz is the personification of transforming overwhelmingly negative circumstances into freedom, friendship, hope, and dignity." - Quincy Jones

Nine East African countries (Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles Somalia and Tanzania) are joining in the annual celebration of International Jazz Day (IJD) in 2018, recognizing it as a special time to share the vibrancy and vitality of jazz music with audiences, young and old, across the globe. East African celebrations are bringing together communities, schools, artists, historians, academics and jazz enthusiasts to celebrate and learn about jazz, its roots, future and impact.

“InternationaL Jazz Day provides an uplifting opportunity to promote intercultural dialogue, unity and the diversity of cultural expressions as articulated in UNESCO’s 2005 Convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions,” said Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, Director of the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa.

Celebrated annually on April 30th, International Jazz Day was officially declared by UNESCO in 2011 in order to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe. IJD 2018 is chaired by jazz pianist and UNESCO’s Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock along with the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay.

To commemorate this special day, Eastern African countries have lined up distinctive, noteworthy activities and events. In Seychelles, a concert dubbed “Let’s Celebrate Jazz” will be staged at the International School of Seychelles with a visiting jazz band as well as a choir arrangement by students provided by the Thelonoius Monk Institute of Jazz. The U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia will mark IJD by inaugurating its American Space “The Satchmo Center” named after jazz legend Louis Armstrong. The event will include a concert featuring Ethiopian and American Jazz musicians living in Addis Ababa.

The popular Safaricom International Jazz Festival will hold performances in Kenya, with the headliner being highly acclaimed Jazz maestro from Cameroon, Manu Dibango. Kenyan jazz celebrities including Chris Bitok, Eddy Gray, Kavutha Mwanzia – among many others – will also perform during this annual event. Like in years past, all the proceeds of this show will go towards the Ghetto Classics community music education programme, a non-profit organization that teaches music skills to youth from underprivileged backgrounds in Nairobi and Mombasa. The Kigali Jazz Junction will host a live jazz music show featuring regional and international jazz artists with a mix of soul musicians for audiences in Rwanda. In Tanzania, Airelle Besson and Lionel Suarez, two French artists will perform an original jazz duo with trumpet and accordion at the Alliance Française in collaboration with the French Embassy in Dar es Salaam. The Somali Academy of Science and Art (SOMASA) in Mogadishu, Somalia will hold a four-part event including; a concert of classical songs; a workshop about the biography and memory of early Somali artists and singers as well as a collaboration between professional musicians and music students; a panel discussion on the role of music and songs in social understanding and peaceful cooperation; and a roundtable discussion on the history of Jazz. The US Embassy in Djibouti will use social media to raise visibility about IJD and its message of peace, intercultural dialogue, unity and freedom of expression. Comoros and Eritrea are also planning concerts in celebration of International Jazz Day in Moroni and Asmara respectively. A schedule with many more exciting and interesting activities planned across the region and further afield can been viewed on the IJD website.

The IJD will culminate in an All Star Global Concert with high-profile Jazz musicians from around the world, who will perform in St. Petersburg’s famous Mariinsky Theatre, which is home to the internationally acclaimed Mariinsky Ballet and one of the crown jewels of the renowned World Heritage city. The stellar lineup of international artists will represent jazz and other genres of music for a performance that spans styles, cultures and languages. The concert will feature nearly three dozen acclaimed artists representing 14 countries, including Herbie Hancock (USA), Igor Butman (Russia) as well as Luciana Souza (Brazil), Moscow Jazz Orchestra (Russian Federation) Fatoumata Diawara (Mali) and Hassan Hakmoun (Morocco).

For more information:

Jazz Concert, Tanzanian

Safaricom Jazz Festival - Kenya

Jazz day - Seychelles

Inauguration of Satchmo Centre and Jazz concert - Ethiopia

International Jazz Day




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