International Jazz Day: focus on Cuba

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Published on: April 27th, 2017

906x680 Terence Blanchard leading parade to the Jazz Fest grounds on International Jazz Day 2015 [Photo by Leon Morris]

Terence Blanchard leading parade to the Jazz Fest grounds on International Jazz Day 2015 [Photo by Leon Morris]
Terence Blanchard leading parade to the Jazz Fest grounds on International Jazz Day 2015 [Photo by Leon Morris]

International Jazz Day holds a special place in the hearts of people in the birthplace of jazz! This year's International Jazz Day falls on Day 3 of the 48th annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival which takes place each April/May in New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz. Though the festival has evolved from pure jazz beginnings to include more diverse genres, the vast majority of the 500+ acts onstage this weekend and next can claim Louisiana ties and fall well into the designation of jazz or blues. 

International Jazz Day brings together communities, schools, artists, historians, academics, and jazz enthusiasts all over the world to celebrate and learn about jazz and its roots, future and impact; raise awareness of the need for intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding; and reinforce international cooperation and communication. On April 30, this international art form is recognized for promoting peace, dialogue among cultures, diversity, and respect for human rights and human dignity; eradicating discrimination; promoting freedom of expression; fostering gender equality; and reinforcing the role of youth in enacting social change-- all principles that have been well-represented at each and every year of Jazz Fest, and that WWOZ maintains on our airwaves everyday.

2017: Cuba at Jazz Fest + International Jazz Day in Havana

This year at Jazz Fest, Cuban culture will be celebrated in the Cultural Exchange Pavilion, an area that features a different culture of the world each year. With Cuban rhythms as the heartbeat, Jazz Fest will honor New Orleans’ deep historical connections with Cuba by hosting one of the largest celebrations of Cuban culture in the U.S. since the 1950s.

The heart-jumping and rousing rhythm of the Conga Los Hoyos parade will take the dancing crowds around the Fair Grounds and to the Cultural Exchange Pavilion, the hub of the Cuban celebration. The Cultural Exchange Pavilion Stage will feature Septeto Nacional Ignacio Piñeiro, Telmary y Habana Sana, Grupo Caury, Conga Los Hoyos, and The Pedrito Martinez Group on the first weekend; and  Septeto Santiaguero, Daymé Arocena, Adonis y Osain del Monte, Changüí Guantánamo, Conga Los Hoyos, and The Pedrito Martinez Rumba Project featuring Roman Diaz on the second weekend.

For International Jazz Day, Havana is serving as the 2017 Global Host City. As part of an extended International Jazz Day celebration from April 24 through 30, Havana is hosting acclaimed musicians and educators from Cuba and around the world to participate in free jazz performances, master classes, improvisational workshops, jam sessions and community outreach initiatives. Programs are taking place at schools, arts venues, community centers, jazz clubs and parks across the city of Havana and throughout Cuba, leading up to the festivities on April 30. Jazz history and education programs are also being provided for tens of thousands of students in over 11,000 schools across Cuba.

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