Saturday, June 01, 2013


Istanbul is where we're going even though this song was a fifties pop tune, not jazz -- but has such fun lyrics that I couldn't resist sharing it here.   The Four Lads,  known for their close harmony and acapella, were influenced by negro spirituals and gospel music to which some jazz artists also  were exposed.  

Streamed live from Istanbul, Turkey on Tuesday, April 30th this year the International Jazz Day Concert webcast was sponsored by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO.)   Here's a link also to The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz which is the lead nonprofit organization charged with planning this annual celebration, which began in 2012.  

This  second annual festival  scheduled in different world cities is the primary focus here with this approximately two hour YouTube video recording.   The first 37 mins. consists of introductions beginning with legendary jazz pianist and composer, Herbie Hancock, who "..serves as UNESCO Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue and Chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz."    He was  followed by other welcoming officials including International Jazz Day chair UNESCO General Irina Bokova. 

A little personal commentary -- ever since Ella Fitzgerald's scat singing many years ago of  "A Tisket, A Tasket, My Little Yellow Basket," demonstrating her vocal skills parallel with other musical instruments, many jazz singers subsequently have demonstrated their talents in a similar manner.   Wikipedia notes:

"In vocal jazz, scat singing is vocal improvisation with wordless vocables, nonsense syllables or without words at all. Scat singing gives singers the ability to sing improvised melodies and rhythms, to create the equivalent of an instrumental solo using their voice."  

I do appreciate this ability, but in small doses, just as there are certain other jazz forms I enjoy more than others.   That said, two singers do vocally play with "scat" here quite spectacularly -- Al Jarreau, Dianne Reeves.   
The 2013 Jazz Day event as reported at the UNESCO website features "...Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, Robert Glasper, Esperanza Spalding, Joss Stone, Marcus Miller, John McLaughlin, Terence Blanchard, Ruben Blades, Ramsey Lewis, Hugh Masekela, Eddie Palmieri, Al Jarreau, Dianne Reeves, George Duke, Lee Ritenour, Jean-Luc Ponty, Milton Nascimento, John Beasley, Igor Butman, Anat Cohen, Vinnie Coliauta, Imer Demirer, James Genus, Bilal Karaman, Pedrito Martinez, Keiko Matsui, Terri Lyne Carrington, Hüsnü Şenlendirici, Joe Louis Walker, Ben Williams and others."  (Spalding won a Grammy in 2011 you can read on my post then.)

A little historical background, "In November 2011, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially designated April 30 as International Jazz Day in order to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe." 

Most significantly,  "CO.NX: Connecting the World through Virtual Engagement -- a digital diplomacy team with the Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) at the U.S. Department of State" whose website features many live performances notes:

"Each year, this international art form is recognized for promoting peace, dialogue among cultures, diversity, respect for human rights and human dignity, eradicating discrimination, promoting freedom of expression, fostering gender equality, and reinforcing the role of youth for social change."

UNESCO reports that "In 2012, [they] UNESCO and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz presented three high-profile programs: a daylong celebration in Paris at UNESCO world headquarters; a sunrise concert in New Orleans’ Congo Square, the birthplace of jazz; and a sunset concert at the United Nations General Assembly Hall in New York City.

"Among the world-renowned artists that participated were John Beasley, Tony Bennett, George Benson, Terence Blanchard, Richard Bona (Cameroon), Dee Dee Bridgewater, Candido, Teri Lyne Carrington, Ron Carter, Robert Cray, Jack DeJohnette, George Duke, Sheila E., Herbie Hancock, Antonio Hart, Jimmy Heath, Hiromi (Japan), Zakir Hussain (India), Chaka Khan, Angelique Kidjo (Benin), Lang Lang (China), Joe Lovano, Romero Lubambo (Brazil), Shankar Mahadevan (India), Ellis Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Hugh Masekela (South Africa), Christian McBride, Marcus Miller, Danilo Pérez (Panama), Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding, Treme Brass Band and Stevie Wonder. Hosts included Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Quincy Jones."

Consider the 2012 and 2013 list of musicians names as reference for some jazz artists whose music  may tempt us to digitally access them -- especially, if like me, there are new names you don't recognize.   Recorded performances of many can likely be heard with a search for their own websites, on YouTube videos and with some tunes commercially available for download and/or purchase.  These are just some of the many jazz musicians performing today.  Other jazz artist names familiar to older generations have become part of jazz history as younger talents emerge into the music's future.