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Herbie Hancock Launches International Jazz Day

From ABC News:

Ambassador Herbie Hancock believes what the world needs is a little jazz diplomacy.

The renowned jazz pianist’s first major initiative since being named a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador last July is to establish International Jazz Day to be held on April 30 of every year. That date coincides with the last day of what has been celebrated as Jazz Appreciation Month in the U.S.

This year’s inaugural event — organized by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in partnership with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, which Hancock chairs — will include star-studded concerts in Paris, New Orleans and New York as well as jazz-related events in several dozen countries from Algeria to Uruguay.

Hancock said he had little difficulty lining up support for his proposal from the 195-member U.N. cultural organization “because so many countries have been affected in crucial ways over the years by the presence of jazz.”

“Jazz has been the voice of freedom for so many countries over the past half century,” Hancock said in a telephone interview ahead of Tuesday’s official announcement of International Jazz Day.

“This is really about the international diplomatic aspect of jazz and how it has throughout a major part of its history been a major force in bringing people of various countries and cultures together.”

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