Jazz Day marked online


Nairobi Horns Project perform on stage. FILE PHOTO | POOL

The world’s largest annual celebration of jazz music takes place today April 30 with online events spread around the globe, Kenya included.

The International Jazz Day, an annual global event that each year reaches more than two billion people, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

For the second consecutive year, the event will be held online due to the Covid-19 restrictions and will be a recognition of the resilience of musicians at a time when the industry has been hard hit by the effects of the pandemic. This has led to cancellations of shows, cutting off the livelihood of many artists who depend on live performances to earn a living.

The highlights of the global event is a two-hour retrospective that combines performances from Jazz Day concerts over the last decade by legendary artists such as Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Sting and departed icons, Aretha Franklin and Hugh Masekela

The All-Star Global Concert features a lineup of performances by leading jazz masters with UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock as artistic director along with artistes from each continent of the globe represented. The internationally renowned artist Angelique Kidjo, from Benin, will contribute a special performance from UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

UNESCO has designated April 30 as International Jazz Day. The day highlights the role of jazz in uniting people in all corners of the globe.

For more than a century, jazz has helped uplift millions of people in all corners of the world who have adapted this genre in styles that are unique to their experiences and cultures. International Jazz Day highlights the unifying attributes of the music through events and programs worldwide on April 30 each year.

One of Kenya's leading jazz ensembles is contributing to the day's celebrations with a virtual concert being streamed globally. The Nairobi Horns Project (NHP) will stage an online performance featuring guest artists, pianist Jacob Asiyo and the group Shamsi Music

The repertoire includes a special collaborative set between NHP, Asiyo and Shamsi Music that was recorded live during the celebrations to mark 20 years of Safaricom, one of the leading promoters of the genre in Kenya through the annual jazz festival. The 10-minute set that is part of the concert, available on the NHP YouTube channel from 9 pm tonight, is a rearrangement of songs that have appeared on previous NHP projects.

NHP will also use the occasion to release live sets recorded during the lockdown.

“It has been a while since we played live before fans, but that does mean the music has been on lockdown,” says Mackinlay Mutsembi of NHP. “We have been playing and recording new music in the studio.”

He says the International Jazz Day concert is a presentation of all the group’s studio sessions, including live sets, fresh productions, and conversations with collaborating artists.

NHP will release two new songs: ‘Ebenezer’ which is a reworking of an old favourite and ‘Wakwitu’ a contemporary take on the melodies and rhythms from the Kamba community.

The music that will be performed during tonight’s livestream will then be available for download and streaming across all digital platforms from tomorrow, May 1 2021.

Guitarist Jack Muguna who plays with NHP will also release his debut solo album ‘Jungle of The Soul’.

It will coincide with International Jazz Day.