Obama to host International Jazz Day concert at White House

By DARLENE SUPERVILLE 31 March 2016, 12:00AM

International Jazz Day is coming to the White House.

President Barack Obama plans to host a blockbuster concert on April 29 featuring such artists as Aretha Franklin, Al Jarreau, Sting, Herbie Hancock and many others.

The show is to be televised by ABC the following day, the fifth anniversary of International Jazz Day.

UNESCO and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz are the sponsors of International Jazz Day, a worldwide celebration of jazz music.

Hancock, a UNESCO goodwill ambassador whose idea led to the creation of International Jazz Day, said jazz is a musical language understood worldwide.

An award-winning pianist and bandleader, Hancock said "incredible" jazz musicians are now everywhere. "That really shows me the power of the music and the fact that it has reached every country on the planet," Hancock told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Previous host cities for International Jazz Day were Istanbul, Turkey, in 2013; Osaka, Japan, in 2014; and Paris in 2015.

In 2012, programs were held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris; in New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz; and at the U.N. General Assembly Hall in New York City.

Last year's programming reached more than 2.8 billion people, Tom Carter, president of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, told the AP.

Obama and the first lady are big music lovers and supporters of jazz. During a recent appearance at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, Mrs. Obama said one of her grandfathers loved and collected jazz and that she would visit him on Saturdays while growing up in Chicago "and I would just play music with him."

The Obamas practically jumped at the chance to bring the International Jazz Day concert to the White House, Carter said.

"They welcomed us with open arms," added Hancock.

 - AP

By DARLENE SUPERVILLE 31 March 2016, 12:00AM

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