Although pop and dance music continue to dominate today's music charts, Herbie Hancock is still optimistic about the future of jazz. In an interview to celebrate April 30 as the first International Jazz Day, the music veteran agrees that jazz is heading to "healthy" place "in the most important ways."
"I'm seeing so many young people that are involved with jazz, with jazz bands either in their high school or some other organization," he shares what he sees nowadays. "They're popping up everywhere. Teenagers, already improvising. It's not going away."
He adds, "We may not hear it that much on the radio or see it that much on television, but it's happening. It's absolutely happening. And judging from what I've heard from the creative output of some of these young people, the future looks very bright for jazz."
The International Jazz Day is a global collaboration among the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Hancock and the Thelonious Monk Institute. The celebration began Friday, April 27 with a concert in Paris, which coincided with New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
On Monday night, big names like Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Stevie Wonder, Wynton Marsalis and Esperanza Spalding are set to take part in a concluding gig at United Nations headquarters. They will perform along with musicians from Latin America, Africa, Europe and Asia.
Talking about what he tried to gain through the celebration, Hancock gushes, "First of all, just the recognition by the planet that jazz is a music to celebrate. That it's a great music to recognize as being truly international and truly a positive diplomatic force because of its cultural contributions."
"Jazz is a great music that I feel has never been given its just due or recognition for having affected so many lives in various cultures throughout the world," he says. "Unesco is exactly the proper setting to do that. With these musicians from various nations, we're really showing a vision for globalization that's a positive one."