This past Friday, Herbie Hancock and scores of other big names in sound, rhythm, and improvisation gathered in Paris to celebrate a new annual event: International Jazz Day. The Grammy Award winning artist and UNESCO goodwill ambassador is the driving force behind the creation of a world day of jazz on April 30. The event, which plans to be a yearly occasion, aims to encourage people around the world to break down barriers between them using music.
"International Jazz Day is the great metaphor for international harmony," Hancock told the Associated Press in an interview, before kicking off jazz day at UNESCO where it gets an early start. About 400 students from Paris music conservatories and schools were taking master classes from Hancock, Dee Dee Bridgewater, or Ibrahim Maalouf. Workshops, films, lectures and, of course, performances by the legends themselves will fill up many venues to show that jazz crosses musical borders as well as national ones.