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Hancock Kicks Off International Jazz Day

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May 02, 2012 11:12 AM EDT

Hancock performs during the three-day Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta

Hancock performs during the three-day Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta (Photo : Reuters)

Jazz pianist Herbie Hancock,72, kicked off International Jazz Day with a sunrise concert in New Orleans, LA, this morning.

With Hancock appeared other big names of jazz, including pianist Ellis Marsalis, trumpeters Terence Blanchard and Kermit Ruffins, and singer Stephanie Jordan. The group performed in the concert on Congo Square to celebrate the new birth of International Jazz Day. Hundreds of jazz fans crowded the square to participate in the festival.

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 “International Jazz Day is the great metaphor for international harmony,” said Hancock in an interview with AP today.

International Jazz Day was launched in Paris on Friday by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz (TMIJ), of which Hancock is Goodwill Ambassador and Chairman, respectively.

Hancock, who is Oscar winner and 14-time Grammy winner, was the main force behind the creation of the new international day on April 30.

The annual event seeks to encourage people around the world to break down barriers among them using music, jazz in particular.

The New Orleans concert was one of the two concerts to be led by Hancock today to celebrate the jazz day. The other was set for 7:30 p.m. EDT in New York with performances by Tony Bennett, Stevie Wonder, Candido, Robert Cray, Sheila E., Chaka Khan, Bobby Sanabria and others.

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