Thanks to heavy lobbying by the United States government, UNESCO declared April 30 to be International Jazz Day.
Americans consider jazz to be their specific contribution to the musics of the world, a contribution that has spawned all kinds of variants.
Algeria, hardly a crucible of cultural dialogue right now, has organized two days of conferences and concerts that include a look at the intermingling of jazz and Mahgreb music.
Italy has 18 specific concerts tied to International Jazz Day, including special broadcasts on RAI radio and television.
Chucho Valdez is performing at the Blue Note in Tokyo tonight.
Meanwhile, in Canada tonight, two jazz bands, representing Grades 7 to 12, of River West Park School in Winnipeg, are our lone flag-wavers.
Granted, the U.S. has only contributed two events, but one of them was organized by the United Stats Embassy in Paris.
This space is not about jazz, but it is about being proud of the remarkable artists that this country has produced — and continues to produce. Mention Oscar Peterson’s name in Europe, or Japan, or South America, and people’s eyes light up.
Why not capitalize on this and spread the world about current talents all in one, big nationalistic marketing breath? Isn’t this the sort of thing what Radio Canada International Canada Council touring grants and places like Canada House in London were created for? Too bad about the budget cuts, eh?
Nowadays, Canadian artists, no matter their genre, have to cover most of their own touring and publicity costs — and how many can do that, even in the age of social media?
Enough ranting. Here are a couple of classical-jazz crossovers to mark the occasion.
First, a young talent named Jaeden plays Peterson’s Laurentide Waltz at a concert celebrating the 50th Canadian Music Week in Salmon Arm, B.C. two years ago.
Second, a palette cleanser: Igor Stravinsky’s 1937 Praeludium for Jazz Band.
Third, Toronto’s own Jane Bunnett, with Marilyn Lerner, Matt Brubeck and Nick Fraser, performing Thelonius Monk’s Pannonica (his 1957 tribute to patron and sometime lover, Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter) at Gallery 345 last year: