Art Matters – International Jazz Day

Illa Thompson
Mercury Column 105
April 2017
It’s a red letter day this weekend for lovers of jazz – with hundreds of concerts, gigs, programmes and gatherings taking place simultaneously around the world bringing people together through a shared love of music in celebration of the seventh annual International Jazz Day.
UNESCO has declared April 30 to be International Jazz Day – a day set aside to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe. It is also the culmination of April JAM (Jazz Appreciation Month).
Their website explains further: “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. Each year 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.”
An affirming statement indeed, reminding us how important music is as an agent for social change. Jazz is one of those rare art forms owned, shared, performed and enjoyed by all – joyfully breaking down barriers of language, position, culture and age. It is one of the most democratic, accessible and non-partisan creative genres worthy of acknowledgement and support.
There are major jazz gatherings across the world, with fabulous concerts and educational programmes to promote peace and dialogue among cultures, diversity and human dignity. The formal global concert takes place in Havanna Cuba on Sunday
KZN has its own programme in place to honour jazz – a collaborative affair between UKZN’s Centre for Jazz and Popular Music; Ethekwini Jazz Appreciation Society; Jazz Xpression; Concerts SA and the Denis Hurley Centre – will all be host a series of events across the city in celebration of International Jazz Day this weekend, Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 April, featuring live performances by UKZN music students, young performers from local high schools and professional musicians across a myriad venues.
Never has the world, and South Africa in particular, needed to hold hands across all that divides us. This weekend – find some jazz and be reminded that a world in which we can make music and find commonality despite our differences, is possible.
• Saturday 29 April:
• All weekend – the Michaelhouse Music Festival – with a multi-genre line-up of music, including great jazz, featuring 800 performers at Michaelhouse school
• 10.30am at Denis Hurley Centre UKZN Big Band plays a free outdoor concert
• Noon: EJazz Appreciation Society will host a Jazz listening session at the Old Beer Hall, 102-120 Florence Nzama Road, with performances by Durban jazz musicians and UKZN Jazz students throughout the evening.
• 8.30pm: Jazzy Rainbow 93 Goble Road, Morningside, to host The George Mari Band featuring Burton Naidoo (piano), Philani Ngidi (bass), Sbu Zondi (drums) and Debbie Mari (vocals) – the opening set will feature a UKZN Jazz Ensemble supported by Concerts SA. For more info:
• Sunday 30 April:
Doors open at 1pm / starts at 2pm: Rainbow Restaurant in Pinetown presents SA Roy and Forest Jam Band. This collaboration was born out of a 2015 gathering with local and international musicians in Madagascar. For their 2017 tour, SA Roy is collaborating with South African/Swiss Forest Jam Band and Madala Kunene. Supported by Concerts SA.
• Doors open at 1.30pm / starts 2pm: the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music hosts free concert with local high school bands – Hilton College, Durban Music School and soloists from various Durban schools. UKZN Jazz Voice students pay Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, celebrating the 100th anniversary of her birthday and the UKZN Big Band under the direction of Burton Naidoo. For more info contact UKZN Jazz School on 031 2603385 or email
• 3pm – 6pm: jazz enthusiast and DJ Mamsie Ntshangase will be presenting a jazz set on VibeFM Radio from while she discusses the importance of International Jazz Day worldwide.
• To add your voice t the conversation, Twitter: @intljazzday | #jazzday

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