International Jazz Day 2019 Education Program puts focus on the students

April 30, 2019 — International Jazz Day 2019 celebrations came to a close today with a series of free master classes, performances and other activities for students at the renowned Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and other locations around the city.

Students from local and regional institutions benefitted from educational sessions conducted by internationally-acclaimed artists including Antonio Hart (USA), Eric Reed (USA) and Eli Degibri (Israel), all offered at the University of Melbourne’s sparkling new Ian Potter Southbank Centre. Participating students hailed from across the state of Victoria and beyond, and represented a range of skill levels, ages and backgrounds.

In his workshop, backed by a trio of Melburnian student musicians, Hart emphasized the importance of the dance music roots of jazz. The saxophonist got the audience moving with an interactive demonstration of the swing time-feel, and challenged attendees to expand their musical vocabularies into all 12 keys. Ideally, “keys shouldn’t exist” for players, intoned Hart, before launching a half-dozen local saxophonists into Thelonious Monk’s “Straight, No Chaser.”

Eli Degibri used his clinic to stress the importance of building a musical vocabulary from one’s influences, while also developing an original voice. Degibri, who graduated from the Institute’s Jazz Performance program in 1999, spoke about the humbling experience of touring with Institute Chairman Herbie Hancock as well as his latest project, which pays tribute to Soul Station,the signature soul jazz album by legendary saxophonist Hank MobleyDegibri also gave a performative demonstration of the expressive range of the saxophone, encouraging students to follow the example of players like Joe Henderson by exploiting the instrument’s uncanny ability to imitate other instruments, like the flute.

The seven Fellows from the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music contributed individual master classes focused on instrumental technique, group dynamics and improvisational mechanics. Additionally, Dr. J.B. Dyas, the Institute’s Vice President of Education and Curriculum Development, hosted a clinic focused on improving tune learning and retention. Enthusiastic throngs of amateur and professional musicians—including multiple faculty members from the Melbourne Conservatorium—moved from room to room, soaking up insights from the visiting musicians.

The April 30 program was the last in a three-day series of educational outreach programs organized in honor of International Jazz Day. The festivities began on April 26 in Sydney, where Institute Chairman Herbie Hancock, International Jazz Day 2019 Co-Artistic Director James Morrison and other artists packed the iconic Sydney Opera House for a day of intensive workshops with students from the state of New South Wales. Programs there were organized in cooperation with the Opera House and The Arts Unit of the NSW Department of Education. Activities continued on April 29 at the Melbourne Conservatorium’s Federation Hall with engaging presentations from Hancock, pianist A Bu (China), vocalist Michael Mayo (USA) and Australian didgeridoo master William Barton.

Vocalist and Institute Class of 2018 graduate Michael Mayo (right) gives feedback to a vocal student during the International Jazz Day 2019 Daytime Educational Program, April 29, 2019. Steve Mundinger/Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz

Spotlight on the organizers

The day’s highlight was a panel discussion and presentation featuring six International Jazz Day organizers from around the globe. The session showed a cross-section of community leaders and cultural advocates who devote their time and resources to curating Jazz Day events each year at all levels of society, often with little or no remuneration. 

Participants included:

  • Roman Khristyuk, Director of the Igor Butman Foundation (Russia)
  • Paolo Petrocelli, Founder, Italian Youth Association for UNESCO
  • Aya Sekine, Founder, We Love Jazz SG (Singapore)
  • Brenda Sisane, Director, International Jazz Day South Africa
  • Peta Si’ulepa, Director, Samoana Jazz Arts Festival (Samoa)
  • Tarek Yamani, Founder, Beirut Speaks Jazz (Lebanon)

Attendees, including UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture Ernesto Ottone, heard about the unique challenges of building a jazz culture in locales like Singapore, Samoa and Lebanon, and how International Jazz Day has in many cases catalyzed significant transformations on the local cultural landscape.

“Our organizers are the heart and soul of International Jazz Day,” said Program & Outreach Director Mika Shino. “Their tireless efforts ensure that, far from being limited to one day, the positive effects of this special program resonate throughout the year. For many in the Jazz Day family, the inspiration created on April 30 translates to increased attendance at live jazz performances, new jazz education opportunities for student musicians, and a richer artistic and cultural life for entire communities.”

A global cohort of International Jazz Day organizers participate in the annual “Jazz Day Around the World” panel discussion at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, April 30, 2019. Steve Mundinger/Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz

The moving stories of this select group of organizers, coming on the eve of the culminating All-Star Global Concert at Melbourne’s Hamer Hall, spoke volumes about the true purpose of International Jazz Day: sharing experiences, and music, across cultures and geographic boundaries. As part of his introduction for a master class during the Melbourne celebrations, the renowned visual artist, academic and opera singer Tiriki Onus told audience members to pause for a moment and listen. He asked them to think about the voices of the elders who had shared stories on that very spot for more than two-and-a-half thousand generations.

“What we do here,” said Onus, “singing our songs, dancing our dances, telling our stories, is no different from what those old people have done—whether we are playing on boomerangs and possum skin drums, or on a double bass and a Bösendorfer. The gift that we bring this country is our stories; the stories that we pour in here.”

Master class with Herbie Hancock, James Morrison and the Hancock Institute Fellows presented at the Sydney Opera House in honor of International Jazz Day 2019. Sydney Opera House

International Jazz Day 2019 education programs were made possible in part through the generous support of the Carnival Corporation.

Announcement: Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz

Washington, D.C. – The Board of Trustees of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz announced today that effective January 1, 2019 the Institute will become the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz.

The decision was made following a request by representatives of the Monk Estate regarding the continued use of Thelonious Monk’s name.

The Board acted in unison by approaching Mr. Hancock with a proposal to name the Institute in his honor. The Board’s decision reflects Mr. Hancock’s commitment and selfless service to the Institute over the past three decades, his expert guidance as Institute Chairman for the past 15 years, and his immense contributions to and impact on music, education and humanity. The Board strongly believes Mr. Hancock is the perfect choice to ensure continuity, stability, and vision for the Institute’s future.

As a Trustee, Mr. Hancock recused himself from voting or making any recommendations relating to this matter. When the Board made its final decision, Mr. Hancock acceded to the call of the unanimous Board decision.

Mr. Hancock and the Board of Trustees express their appreciation to Thelonious Monk, Jr. and the Monk family for everything they have done for the Institute over the past 30 years, and for helping to launch the Institute’s many education programs.

Mr. Hancock stated, “Having the Institute named in my honor is tremendously humbling and represents a profound moment for my family and me. I’m looking forward to continuing in my role as Institute Chairman and carrying on and expanding the organization’s important worldwide jazz education and humanitarian initiatives.”

Mr. Hancock added, “We have been searching for ways to increase the Institute’s impact musically as well as address humanitarian issues where we can make a difference. We will continue teaching the history and importance of jazz, its traditions and improvisation, along with exploring new directions and horizons for the future. Of utmost importance to the Institute and our programs is to highlight the ethics of jazz, which are humanitarian in nature.”

Mr. Hancock’s lead program as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador is International Jazz Day, which is produced in conjunction with the Institute, the United Nations and UNESCO. Mr. Hancock observed, “The goals and vision of UNESCO and the United Nations are similar to the values in jazz, and we intend to use our relationship with these institutions as a conduit to interact with organizations, communities, schools, and individuals around the world. Working together, we can illuminate the many challenging issues facing humankind by developing and enacting programs that will make a real difference in the quality of people’s lives and lift their spirits through music.”

The Institute will continue partnering with UCLA to offer its highly selective, graduate-level college program at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. This two-year, full scholarship program is the most prestigious master’s level jazz program of its kind and has produced many internationally acclaimed jazz musicians. Mr. Hancock will remain fully involved, serving as an instructor and mentor, working with the students on improvisation and composition, and performing with the students in Los Angeles, across the United States, and internationally.

A special emphasis will be placed on the Institute’s latest groundbreaking initiative “Math, Science and Music,” which uses music as a tool to teach math and science to young people, helping them gain skills and acquire knowledge in STEM subjects while learning to think creatively.

The Institute will continue its mission in all respects. The Board of Trustees will remain in place; the Institute’s ongoing education programs and events will continue; and the staff in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, California will continue to carry out their responsibilities. The Board of Trustees looks forward to this exciting new chapter in the Institute’s history.

About the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz:

The mission of the nonprofit Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz is to offer the world’s most promising young musicians college level training by internationally acclaimed jazz masters and to present public school-based music education programs for young people around the world. The Institute preserves, perpetuates and expands jazz as a global art form, and utilizes jazz as a means to unite people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities. All of the Institute’s programs are provided free of charge to students, schools and communities worldwide.

About Herbie Hancock:

Herbie Hancock, a 14-time GRAMMY Award winner and Academy Award winner, is an internationally renowned pianist and composer who has been an integral part of every jazz movement since the 1960s. As a member of the Miles Davis Quintet, Hancock became one of the pioneers of modern jazz improvisation and one of the most influential voices on the piano in the history of jazz. His recordings in the ’70s combined electric jazz with funk and rock, influencing decades of music. His 1983 hit song “Rockit” established Hancock as an innovator in electronic music and inspired a generation of hip-hop artists. In 2007, he won the GRAMMY for Album of the Year, becoming the first jazz musician to receive this honor in 44 years. His most recent collaborations include Terrace Martin, Flying Lotus, Wayne Shorter, Kamasi Washington, Robert Glasper, Jacob Collier and Lionel Loueke. Hancock serves as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue and the Institute’s Chairman.

Press inquiries: contact Alisse Kingsley / / 323.467.8508