International Jazz Day All-Star Global Concert (PHOTOS/ VIDEO)

So this happened on Tuesday night at Melbourne’s Hamer Hall…

Tineke Postma and Igor Butman | Photo: Steve Mundinger/Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Jane Monheit and Chico Pinheiro performing Antonio Carlos Jobim’s ‘Waters of March’ | Photo: Steve Mundinger/Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Jane Monheit and Chico Pinheiro performing Antonio Carlos Jobim’s ‘Waters of March’ | Photo: Steve Mundinger/Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
James Genus and Ledisi | Photo: Steve Mundinger/Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
James Genus and Ledisi | Photo: Steve Mundinger/Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Eli Degibri and Theo Crocker | Photo: Steve Mundinger/Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Cieavash Arian, Antonio Hart and James Morrison | Photo: Steve Mundinger/Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Cieavash Arian | Photo: Steve Mundinger/Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Brian Blade | Photo: Steve Mundinger/Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Brian Blade | Photo: Steve Mundinger/Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Ben Williams | Photo: Steve Mundinger/Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Lizz Wright | Photo: Steve Mundinger/Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz

“Following thousands of jazz events taking place in 195 countries around the world, International Jazz Day 2019 came to a thrilling closein Melbourne, Australia with an extraordinary All-Star Global Concert at Melbourne Arts Centre’s renowned Hamer Hall,” reads the Media release.

Led by artistic co-directors Herbie Hancock(USA) andJames Morrison AO,(Australia)and musical directorJohn Beasley(USA), the concert was streamed live by the United Nations and UNESCO and on www.jazzday.com.

It featured riveting performances by over 30 international artists: Cieavash Arian(Iran), William Barton(Australia), Brian Blade(USA), A Bu(China), Igor Butman(Russian Federation), Theo Croker(USA), Joey DeFrancesco(USA), Eli Degibri(Israel), Kurt Elling(USA), James Genus(USA), Paul Grabowsky(Australia), Antonio Hart(USA), Matthew Jodrell(Australia), Aditya Kalyanpur(India), Ledisi(USA), Jane Monheit(USA), James Muller(Australia), Eijiro Nakagawa(Japan), Mark Nightingale(United Kingdom), Jeff Parker(USA), Chico Pinheiro(Brazil), Tineke Postma(Netherlands), Eric Reed(USA), Antonio Snchez(Mexico), Somi(USA), Ben Williams(USA), Lizz Wright(USA) and Tarek Yamani(Lebanon).”

Herbie Hancock | Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Kurt Elling | Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Herbie Hancock | Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Eli Degibri | Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Jane Monheit and Chico Pinheiro perform Antonio Carlos Jobim’s ‘Waters of March’. | Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
(L-R) Herbie Hancock, Kurt Elling, Somi, Igor Butman and James Morrison. | Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Eric Reed. | Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Ledisi | Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Matthew Jodrell | Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Herbie Hancock speaks during the International Jazz Day 2019 All-Star Global Concert at Hamer Hall on April 30, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. | Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Herbie Hancock, Kurt Elling, James Morrison, Ledisi and Tineke Postma, performing John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, at the finale of the International Jazz Day 2019 All-Star Global Concert. | Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Mat Jodrell and Jane Monheit. | Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Lizz Wright | Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Lizz Wright | Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
James Genus | Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Somi | Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
James Morrison speaks during the International Jazz Day 2019 All-Star Global Concert at Hamer Hall on April 30, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. | Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Ernesto Ottone Ramrez speaks during the International Jazz Day 2019 All-Star Global Concert at Hamer Hall on April 30, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. | Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Herbie Hancock | Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Igor Butman | Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Lizz Wright | Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
James Morrison and William Barton opened the International Jazz Day 2019 All-Star Global Concert at Hamer Hall. | Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz

The All-Star Global Concert could not open with a more apt way – a jazz version of a Welcome to Country ceremony, performed by didgeridoo master William Barton who engaged in a mesmerising dialogue with James Morrison. The trumpeter is of course, Australia’s jazz ambassador to International Jazz Day, having performed at the White House Global Concert in Washington, in 2016and at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, last year – after all, he is probably the only jazz instrumentalist to be a household name in Australia.

Following this haunting, beautiful performance, another Australian national treasure, Paul Grabowsky played the first notes of ‘East of the Sun, West of the Moon’; he was joined by a dream team of Australian and American musicians – sparkling vocalist Jane Monheit, brilliant guitarist James Muller, rising bass star Ben Williams, Mexican powerhouse Antonio Santchez on drums and Mat Jodrell on trumpet, who was on fire, offering the first of many highlights.

Paul Grabowsky, Mat Jodrell, Ben Williams, Jane Monheit and James Muller. | Photo: Steve Mundinger/Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Joey DeFrancesco, Eli Degibri, Theo Crocker and Brian Blade. | Photo: Steve Mundinger/Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz

For me, the highlight was definitely the Joey Defrancesco/ Eli Degibri/ Theo Crocker/ Brian Blade Quartet, playing Herbie Hancock’s ‘One Finger Snap’. Other people around me were marvelling over Somi’s electrifying afrobeat performance of ‘Lady Revisited’, whileLedisi brought the house down with her spine-tingling rendition of ‘Try a Little Tenderness’, backed by a fiery 10-piece band.

Somi performing ‘Lady Revisited’, backed by Tineke Postma, Theo Crocker, Mat Jodrell and James Genus. | Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images for Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz
Ledisi, performing ‘Try a Little Tenderness’. | Photo: Steve Mundinger/Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz

Another beautiful moment came with a haunting performance of ‘Melody in Esfahan’ a traditional Persian theme, featuring Cieavash Arian on kamancheh (a kind of persian lyrh), Morrison and Barton, Chinese piano prodigy A Bu, Saxophonist Antonio Hart, Ben Williams on bass, Brian Blade on drums and Indian tabla player Aditya Kalyanpur. It was a meeting of cultures that fully embodied the International Jazz Day mission and vision, that of Jazz being a univeral language, an instrument for peace and a diplomatic tool, in times of “turmoil” – as Herbie Hancock himself put it in his inspiring speech, stressing thathe is not only referring to “the countries that we’re calling conflict zones.”

To highlight this vision, the International Jazz Day All-Star Global Concert traditionally concludes with John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ – a marvellous song, of course, albeit not particularly ‘jazz’, whatever that means today. It is easy to understand this choice, but I wonder if there is truly no other song, in the entire jazz songbook that is equally recognisable and sends the same message (Louis Armstrong’s pop hit ‘What a Wonderful World’ would tick all the boxes in my opinion, but I guess there is a reason it’s not my call to make.)

Kurt Elling, James Morrison, Ledisi, Somi, Lizz Wright, Jane Monheit and William Barton, during the closing of the International Jazz Day Global Concert. | Photo: Steve Mundinger/Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz

Nobody complained, of course; the audience was ecstatic, participating, clapping and singing along, calling the stellar cast to keep going and stay on stage for an uplifting coda.

All in all, it was a heartwarming, feelgood closing of yet another successful event.

Yes, the All-Star Global concert may seem a bit too formulaic and polished at times – I heard some people on their way out arguing whether it offers a pop approach on jazz – but the logistics alone of organising it and making it happen are impossible.

The only true issue with this particular edition was the lack of women instrumentalists, with the exception of the wonderful Tineke Postma. Such an omission is truly unacceptable in this day and age, and particularly after the #metoo movement and the ongoing discussion about the representation of women in jazz, a discussion currently happening in both Australia and the US. Particularly when it comes to Australia, in my opinion, any attempt to represent Australian jazz without the participation of Sandy Evans and/ or Andrea Keller, simply fails to accurately represent Australian jazz.

Let’s hope that this changes next year, when Cape Town takes the mantle to host the International Jazz Day All-Star Global Concert. We’ll be watching, as always.

Watch the 2019 International Jazz Day All-Star Global Concert

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