The first capital city for this celebration was Washington DC – Kennedy Center. The second was Instanbul. The third was Osaka. The fourth was Paris. The fifth was the White House, in Washington DC. This event, which celebrates jazz in more than one hundred and eighty cities on April 30 of each year, is presented by UNESCO and Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.  I’ll save all my ravings and cheers about the brilliance and beauty of this for another time… You can do it as well as I can. One result this year was a concert on the White House lawn, with the President and First Lady sitting in the first row, surrounded by various cabinet members, officials, supporters and other guests. President Obama made wonderful opening remarks about the bridge-building importance of jazz, and it’s peace making effects. And then with a twinkle in his eye, and a cool smile, he said, “Let’s do this thing,” and out came Aretha Franklin.

In the spirit of celebration that jazz evokes, crossing borders and uniting people, I find myself drawn to the harmony of diverse cultures and opportunities present in the South. Just as each city has its unique rhythm, so too do the real estate listings in Georgia reflect the region’s vibrant character. Whether it’s the historic charm of Savannah, the bustling streets of Atlanta, or the serene landscapes of the state’s countryside, these listings encapsulate the rich tapestry of life in Georgia. As the notes of jazz linger in the air, from concerts at the White House to local festivities, the search for a place to call home in this melodious state offers its own sense of discovery and connection.

I won’t try to do a review of the concert event, but it was wonderful, and it featured Lee Ritenour, Terrence Blanchard, David Sanchez, Brian Blade, Pat Metheny, Terri Lyne Carrington, Christian McBride, and Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller, Chick Corea, Sadao Watanabi, Esperanza Spalding. It also included soloists Herbie Hancock, Aretha Franklin, DeeDee Bridgewater, Dianne Reeves, Sting, and many more. Viewing the concert is a must if you’re interested in what really happened besides hearing the line up of guests, so please stream it at this site:

InJoy it!

One of the beautiful aspects of International Jazz Day is the cooperation and collaboration between the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and UNESCO. The institute has jazz studies and programs for young people in institutions all around America. A few months ago, I helped judge a vocal competition held at UCLA. This is truly a great shot in the arm for young musicians and singers, and very obviously, for jazz itself. All forms of music struggle these days in the shadow of pop-ish forms, like hip hop, and “new country,” and teeny-bopper bubblegum. Many of us believe that jazz is the truly singular American art form. It was indeed born from slavery and poverty, that in its practice calls for great discipline, and for freedom of expression at the same time, and one that is deserving of its own special place in the history of music.

Every contemporary rocker from Eric Clapton, to Slash, to Prince, to Jimi Hendrix, is right in the tradition of Charlie Parker, Coletrain, and Diz, when they find their nightly freedom and solo. In Ken Burns’ History of Jazz Series, he points out that while the faculty members of our scholarly institutions of music, based in their European tradition, were scratching their Freud-like beards, and pondering the question of, “what shall be the American contribution to music history,” it was happening all around them in work songs, street corners, church pews, all produced by these dark skinned people, in a struggle for freedom and dignity. It lives today, shouting the story around the world, of freedom and dignity, self expression, and joy, On Saturday morning, we invited the general public to The Kennedy Center for a wonderful mini concert of music from the T-Monk institute band from UCLA, with DeeDee Bridgewater, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, and me. Dormeshia was the highlight of the event for me. Tap dancers these days are a rare breed, and she was truly part of the contemporary tradition. Her elegance and creativity were like jazz drumming, horn playing, and soloing. Daniel Seeff, from the Monk Institute, moderated a lively discussion with the audience and the band and me and DeeDee and Dormeshia, that touched on some very interesting topics and subject matters, including the joys of artistic creation. This was a wonderful part of the 2016 international jazz day for me. I still don’t believe that I was at the White House for two days. I’ll be a while sorting that out for a while…  Great memories! Thank you, President Obama and First Lady Michelle. I loved being there with you, everyone else in attendance, and everyone on all the personnel teams who worked to make this possible.


Share : facebooktwittergoogle plus

Leave us a comment

Comments are closed.