UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and the Republic of Turkey are pleased to announce that the main event for the second annual International Jazz Day will be hosted by Turkey in the city of Istanbul.
Held every year on April 30th, International Jazz Day brings together communities, schools and groups from across the world to celebrate jazz, learn about its roots and highlight its important role as a form of communication that transcends differences.
This year, the main concert for International Jazz Day will be held in Istanbul, Turkey. UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, stated, “I am delighted to announce that Istanbul will serve as the Host City for the 2013 International Jazz Day celebration on April 30th. A meeting place of global cultures, Istanbul is an ideal location to highlight the extensive influence of jazz. Official celebrations, concerts and educational programs will take place in Istanbul and around the globe, expanding on the tremendous success of last year’s inaugural International Jazz Day.”
Taken forward in partnership with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, International Jazz Day was adopted by UNESCO Member States on the initiative of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock, in order to encourage and highlight jazz’s unique power for advancing intercultural dialogue and understanding across the world. International Jazz Day is recognized on the official calendars of UNESCO and the United Nations. Its programs and events will be coordinated with all 195 Member States of UNESCO. “International Jazz Day is a means to highlight, support, and leverage the unifying attributes of music through worldwide celebratory events and activities on 30thApril each year.” said Herbie Hancock. “On International Jazz Day, jazz is celebrated, studied, and performed around the world for 24 hours straight. Collaborations abound among jazz icons, scholars, composers, musicians, dancers, writers, and thinkers who embrace the beauty, spirit, and principles of jazz, freely sharing experiences and performances in our big cities and in our small towns, all across our seven continents.”
Toronto’s Luminato Festival’s 2013 Premiere Series will feature a birthday celebration for eight-time Grammy winner Joni Mitchell.
Luminato honors the singer-songwriter’s 70th birthday with a lineup including Glen Hansard, Rufus Wainwright and Bill Frisell. Drummer/bandleader Brian Blade and pianist/composer Jon Cowherd will provide musical direction and arrangements. The band will also include Melvin Butler, Jeff Haynes, Mark Isham, Chris Thomas and Marvin Sewell.
Smooth Music News (Smooth Jazz Network)
The power trio BWB, featuring Norman Brown on guitar, Kirk Whalum on saxophone and Rick Braun on trumpet have reunited for their first new album in eleven years. Human Nature is their tribute to pop legend Michael Jackson and will be released on June 18, 2013 via Heads Up International. The set is the first new effort from the trio since they made their debut as BWB on their highly acclaimed release Groovin' in 2002. Human Nature features eleven of Jackson's tunes that span his work with The Jackson Five through his solo albums Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad, including hits such as "Human Nature," "Beat It," "Who's Lovin' You" and "Billie Jean." BWB will be out on tour in support of the new album and have a show coming up in Panama City Beach, FL on April 20.
Keyboardist, composer and producer Brian Simpson will release his fifth solo album entitled Just What You Need on April 23, 2013 via Shanachie Records. Well known for his role as the Musical Director for saxophonist Dave Koz for almost two decades, Simpson has also worked with artists like Janet Jackson, Teena Marie, George Duke, Stanley Clarke and Peter White. He is joined on Just What You Need by guitarists Jonathan Butler and Marc Antoine and saxophonists Dave Koz, Gerald Albright and Elan Trotman. Brian shares, "What makes this CD different from my previous ones is that I collaborated with some new young composer/producers at the inception of the project. Nicholas Cole is the youngest of these composers (nineteen years old), and I was so happy with the songs we did together. I think I was able to make a CD that had my signature style yet also has the fresh spirit of these young jazz music producers." Simpson's next concert performance will be at the Tri C Jazz Festival in Cleveland, OH on April 20.
On August 28, 1962 jazz legends Tony Bennett and Dave Brubeck joined together for a special performance at the Sylvan Theater in Washington, DC for the White House Seminar American Jazz Concert. The event was hosted by President John F. Kennedy as a thank you to the college interns who worked in the nation's capital all summer. While the Bennett-Brubeck hit song "That Old Black Magic" from that performance has been in circulation for many years, recordings of the full concert were just discovered in December 2012, shortly after Brubeck died. RPM/Columbia/Legacy Recordings will release the entire concert performance, for the first time, entitled Bennett & Brubeck: The White House Sessions, Live 1962 on May 28, 2013.
In addition to announcing a 2013 tour together, keyboardist Bob James and saxophonist David Sanborn are also releasing a new album entitled Quartette Humaine via OKeh Records on May 21. The set marks the first project the duo has recorded together since their landmark album Double Vision was released in 1986. On Quartette Humaine, Sanborn and James pay tribute to the late pianist and composer Dave Brubeck, especially his work featuring saxophonist Paul Desmond. The all-acoustic set features Steve Gadd on drums and James Genus on bass and presents four new compositions by James, three new songs by Sanborn and two James-arranged covers including "My Old Flame" and "Geste Humain." The duo kick off their 2013 tour on June 6 at Town Hall in New York City. A full list of their concert dates is available here.
As we wrap up 2012, I’d like to take some time to remember some of the wonderful contributors to jazz that passed away in 2012. Here is a short list of some of the great musicians we lost over the last year, and as always, feel free to share your memories of these musicians, or any musicians that passed away that aren’t on this list.
Dave Brubeck, 91
(From the HARTFORD, Conn. AP) – Jazz composer and pianist Dave Brubeck, whose pioneering style in pieces such as “Take Five” caught listeners’ ears with exotic, challenging rhythms, passed away December 5th. Brubeck had a career that spanned almost all American jazz since World War II. He formed The Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1951 and was the first modern jazz musician to be pictured on the cover of Time magazine – on Nov. 8, 1954 – and he helped define the swinging, smoky rhythms of 1950s and ’60s club jazz.
Pete Cosey, 68
(From the Chicago AP) – Pete Cosey, an innovative guitarist who brought his distinctive distorted sound to recordings with Miles Davis, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters, died May 30th. In the 1960s, Cosey was a member of the studio band at Chess Records in Chicago, where he played on Waters’ “Electric Mud” and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Howlin’ Wolf Album.” Cosey also worked with Etta James and Chuck Berry. Cosey ended up playing on many of Miles Davis’ boundary-pushing recordings in the 1970s, including “Dark Magus,” ”Agharta” and “The Complete On the Corner Sessions.”
Clare Fischer, 83
(From the Los Angeles AP) – Clare Fischer, a Grammy-winning composer who wrote scores for television and movies and worked with legendary musicians like Dizzy Gillespie, died January 26th. An uncommonly versatile musician, Fischer worked as a composer, arranger, conductor and pianist for more than 60 years. He is best known for his arrangements for Prince, Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, Branford Marsalis, Raphael Saadiq, Usher and Brandy.
Von Freeman, 88
(From the Chicago AP) – Earle Lavon Freeman, a tenor saxophonist and National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, passed away August 11th, remembered as a jazz great who made every song his own with a husky, melodic sound. Freeman never became of a major star but was highly regarded as a musician by other jazz practitioners. Miles Davis reportedly wanted him in the 1950s, but Freeman refused to leave his native Chicago for most of his career, taking only the briefest trips out of the city to perform.
James “Red” Holloway, 84
(From the Morro Bay, Calif. AP) – James “Red” Holloway, a noted saxophonist who played with the greats from the big band era through bebop, blues, R&B and modern jazz, died February 25th in California. During a career that spanned nearly seven decades, Holloway’s versatility and driving swing style kept him much in demand. He performed with legends such as Billie Holiday, B.B. King, Lionel Hampton and Aretha Franklin.
Etta James, 73
(From the Los Angeles AP) – Etta James, the feisty R&B singer whose raw, passionate vocals anchored many hits and made the yearning ballad “At Last” an enduring anthem for weddings, commercials and even President Obama, died January 20th. James performed well into her senior years, and it was “At Last” that kept bringing her the biggest ovations. The song was a perennial that never aged, and on Jan. 20, 2009, as crowds celebrated that – at last – an African-American had become president of the United States, the song played as the first couple danced.
Ravi Shankar, 92
(From New Delhi AP) – From George Harrison to John Coltrane, from Yehudi Menuhin to David Crosby, his connections reflected music’s universality, though a gap persisted between Shankar and many Western fans. Shankar died December 11th. As early as the 1950s, Shankar began collaborating with and teaching some of the greats of Western music, including violinist Menuhin and jazz saxophonist Coltrane. He played well-received shows in concert halls in Europe and the United States, but faced a constant struggle to bridge the musical gap between the West and the East. To later generations, he was known as the estranged father of popular American singer Norah Jones.