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  • Afro-Cuban jazz great, Chucho Valdes.

    Afro-Cuban jazz great, Chucho Valdes. | Photo: EFE

Published 29 April 2017

Cuba was chosen to celebrate the sixth edition of International Jazz Day in honor of the island's thriving jazz scene.

International Jazz Day was commemorated in Cuba on Friday by the arrival of Irina Bokova, director general of UNESCO. She was received at Jose Marti International Airport by Abelardo Moreno, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Katherine Müller, Director of the Regional Office of Culture for Latin America and the Caribbean of UNESCO.

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During Bokova's stay in Havana, she will meet with the Minister of Culture, Abel Prieto, historian, Eusebio Leal and a host of other personalities.

International Jazz Day is celebrated in Cuba for the first time. The holiday culminates with a concert at the Gran Theatre of Havana Alicia Alonso where more than 40 musicians from different countries, including Chucho Valdes and Herbie Hancock, will take the stage.

Cuba was chosen to celebrate the sixth edition of International Jazz Day in honor of the island's thriving jazz scene and contributions of its musicians to the genre, which was hailed as “black classical music” by jazz luminaries such as John Coltrane and Nina Simone.

"Havana is this year the host city of International Jazz Day, reflecting the deep ties that bind it to jazz," Bokova said.

Havana is the hometown of renowned orchestra directors such as Mario Bauza and Frank "Machito" Grillo. The city's booming musical culture gave rise to the Afro-Cuban jazz movement, inspired by a prodigious mix of cultures and peoples of the entire region.

"Cuban jazz is a lesson in creative diversity that resonates in the depths of UNESCO," Bokova added.

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Bygone jazz musicians are resilient survivors of treacherous paths laid by colonization and the Transatlantic slave trade in the Americas. For all its worth, jazz is considered to be Black classical music, cultivated by Africa's abducted children. Their music drifts in the whirlwind of the diaspora, call-and-response, talking drums, syncopation, improv, freestyle and freedom.

Cuba's serves as an exemplary setting to celebrate the sixth edition of International Jazz Day. 

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