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.” International Jazz Day is chaired and led by UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay and legendary jazz pianist and composer Herbie Hancock, Chairman of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, who serves as a UNESCO Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue. The Institute is the nonprofit charged with planning, promoting and producing this annual celebration.
This year, International Jazz Day will be celebrated on Saturday, April 30. From small town gigs to the annual All Star Global Concert, musicians and fans will call for peace and unity through the common language of jazz. “Jazz carries a universal message with the power to strengthen dialogue, our understanding of each other, and our mutual respect. As the world is affected by multiple crises and conflicts, this international day highlights how much music and culture can contribute to peace,” said Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO. Added Hancock, “With conflict and division in many parts of the world, it is my hope that, through the universal language of jazz, our celebration this year can inspire people of all nations to heal, to hope and to work together to foster peace.”
From the press release: The annual flagship Jazz Day event, the spectacular All-Star Global Concert, will be staged in the UN General Assembly Hall in New York City, emphasizing the importance of jazz as a means of achieving unity and peace through dialogue and diplomacy. With Herbie Hancock serving as Host and Artistic Director and John Beasley as Musical Director, the program is set to feature performances by some of the world’s most accomplished jazz artists, including vocalists Shemekia Copeland, José James, Youn Sun Nah (Republic of Korea), Gregory Porter, Alune Wade (Senegal) and Lizz Wright; pianists Joey Alexander (Indonesia), Helio Alves (Brazil), Laurent de Wilde (France), Hiromi (Japan), Ray Lema (Democratic Republic of Congo), and Tarek Yamani (Lebanon); drummers Terri Lyne Carrington and Brian Blade; bassists James Genus, Marcus Miller and Linda May Han Oh (Australia); saxophonists Ravi Coltrane, David Sanborn and Erena Terakubo (Japan); guitarist Mark Whitfield and trumpeters Randy Brecker and Jeremy Pelt; harmonicist Grégoire Maret (Switzerland), harpist Edmar Castañeda (Colombia), percussionist Pedrito Martínez (Cuba) and clarinetist Kinan Azmeh (Syria). Further information on the 2022 cast is available on jazzday.com.
Celebrate Locally! Twin Cities Jazz This Weekend
This is the sort of jazz weekend I dread—too many choices and no way to clone myself. But such dilemmas only speak to the return of our vital jazz scene. Some of this options may be sold out, but you can only be in one place at one time anyway, right?
Jazz Central Studios (407 Central SE, Minneapolis). The little basement club presents the best of the Twin Cities every Friday and Saturday nights (and sometimes another night or two). Friday April 29 8 pm, hear the legendary sounds of pianist Cornbread Harris, still performing jazz and blues at 95. Saturday April 30 8 pm, the Jazz Impact Quintet, performs music from jazz greats, and features our own local jazz greats – Brad Holden and Joe Mayo on saxes, Mike Cramer on guitar, Michael Gold on bass, and Nathan Norman on drums. Reserve at www.jazzcentralstudios.org
The Dakota (1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis). Keeping culture alive on the Mall, The Dakota has been bringing in the best of international and local talents. Friday April 29, 7 pm, hear the spectacular voice of Jennifer Grimm as she presents the music of Judy Garland. And this is way beyond the rainbow with a stellar cast of area musicians. If all you know about Judy is the Wizard of Oz, you need to see this show. (And if you are more Judy savvy, you really need to see this show.) www.dakotacooks.com
Hopkins Center for the Arts (1111 Mainstreet, Hopkins). HCA boasts one of the top smallish theaters in the metro as well as a popular concert and theater series. For jazz fans, the centerpiece of the season is the April 30 (8 pm) booking of international vocal star Dee Dee Bridgewater with Grammy winning pianist Bill Charlap. Aside from leading his stellar trio, Charlap is well known for his partnerships with top vocalists (starting with his mom Sandy Stewart); Bridgewater—a headliner at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival a few years back—is a Grammy and Tony winner as well as NEA Jazz Master. www.hopkinsartcenter.com
Crooners Supper Club Main Stage, Dunsmore Room ( 6161 Hwy 65, Fridley). Now on the national map of jazz venues, Crooners offers nonstop music throughout much of the week on its three stages, and jazz in all its forms gets a good chunk of the bookings. April 29, Main Stage 8 pm, Andrew Walesch Big Band,–Sinatra and More. Music Director for Crooners, Andrew Walesch has one of the most dynamic voices in the region, often heard presenting the music of Sinatra with his star-studded big band. And he’s as entertaining as he is on key! April 30, Dunsmore Room, 4 pm, Maud Hixson Remembering Doris Day. One of the Midwest’s busiest vocalists, Maud Hixson is known as much for her presentations of the music of legends from the classic eras of jazz as for her bright voice and on-stage charm. You’ll leave the show not only humming a tune but with a wealth of information to enhance your listening. Doris is one of Maud’s favorites. April 30, Dunsmore Room 7 pm features the internationally acclaimed Chris Speed Trio with Dave King and Chris Tordini. Local audiences may know Speed from the Dave King Trucking Company, but his reputation includes his collaborations with John Hollenbeck, Uri Caine, Craig Taborn, Mary Halvorsen and more. Expect a spectacular night of modern jazz in one of the best listening rooms in the Midwest. Rounding out the weekend, on May 1 (3:30 pm, Main Stage), Patty Peterson hosts a new installment of Minnesota Jazz Legends: The Elders. The honorees this year include bassist Ollie Lyle, trumpeter/educator Dr. Steve Wright, and pianist/vocalist Linda Peterson. There will also be a posthumous tribute to Brasilian /Minnesota transplant ,keyboard master Manfredo Fest.
KJ’s Hideaway (408 St Peter Street, St Paul). The Artists Quarter closed in 2013; it’s successor, Vieux Carre’, closed in 2018. The Black Dog in Lowertown St Paul, which presented many of the AQ acts and more via Steve Kenny’s Saturday night series, made it through the Pandemic but no further, shutting down in February 2022. But back in downtown St Paul on the 7th Place mall, jazz—and Steve’s Saturday Night Jazz series– has found a new home in the old AQ space, KJ’s Hideaway. Presenting at least one, often two bands every Saturday night, Steve is packing the house, and hosts K and J are keeping the music alive: April 30, 7:30 pm, Chris Bates’ Good Vibes Trio. Launched nearly ten years ago, this trio features three mainstays of the local scene—leader/bassist Chris Bates, vibes master Dave Hagedorn, and drummer nonpareil Phil Hey. It’s rare for a band of veterans to open for an ensemble a couple generations removed, but that’s how much respect the quartet Hoaxer (9:30 pm) generates! These 20-somethings came together when barely out of high school, maintaining the groove throughout their college days on four different campuses, and continuing post grad as they each forge their individual careers, all currently based in the Twin Cities. Hoaxer is Will Kjeer on piano, Peter Goggin on sax, Charlie Lincoln on bass, and Edmund Catlin on drums. Their repertoire primarily includes original tunes from each musician.
More This Weekend:
April 29, Pete Snell Trio with Chris Olson and Tom Lewis at The Lexington (8 pm); Joe Strachan at Volstad’s Emporium (10 pm)
April 30, Zacc Harris Trio (Ted Olsen, Abinet Behranu) at The Icehouse (6 pm); JC Sanford at Volstad’s Emporium (10 pm); Blue Ox Trio With Alex Charland at Herbies on the Park (6 pm)
May 1, Jazz Brunch with ’69 Dodge (Zacc Harris, Cody McKinney, Dave Power) at The Icehouse (11 am); Patty and the Buttons at the Aster Café (11 am); Minnesota Hard Bop Collective at 55 Brewing (3 pm); Charanga Tropical at The Icehouse (5 pm)
While this seems exhausting, this is not an exhaustive list of all the jazz events in the metro area this weekend. And of course you can just stay home and stream the International Jazz Day concert! Also check out other jazz resources on the IJD website!
Andrea Canter is Senior Editor Emeritus for Jazz Police and occasionally contributes The Lead Sheet.