By STACEY PLAISANCE | Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — As the morning sun spilled over the New Orleans’ skyline Monday, jazz musicians Herbie Hancock, Ellis Marsalis and others kicked off International Jazz Day with a sunrise concert that included ritual drumming and a string of performances, a day that culminated in the evening with a grand all-star concert at the United Nations.
In the morning, trumpeters Terence Blanchard and Kermit Ruffins, singer Stephanie Jordan and others performed “On the Sunny Side of the Street” and “Afro Blue” as the sun rose on Congo Square, an area near the French Quarter neighborhood where slaves once gathered on Sundays to play music.
Hundreds crowded the stage, some dancing and waving white handkerchiefs to the music.
Several hours later, amid the backdrop of the U.N.’s General Assembly Hall, Hancock joined other jazz luminaries, including Marsalis’ son Wynton, Tony Bennett and Quincy Jones, for a concert that paid tribute to the best in jazz as well as its musical inspirations and influences. Besides jazz, there was blues, world music, a bit of R&B and more genres represented, with performances that included Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Angelique Kidjo, Robert Cray, and Dee Dee Bridgewater, and appearances from Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Michael Douglas.
“Jazz … that’s America’s only true indigenous art form,” said Jones. “It’s our classical music, you’ve got to remember that.”
“It’s the heart and soul of American music and we can’t afford to let it slip into obscurity,” he added.
AP Music Writer Nekesa Mumbi Moody contributed to this report from New York.
International Jazz Day: http://www.unesco.org/days/jazzday