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Arts & Culture

International Jazz Day From Cuba

The cast of the 2017 International Jazz Day All-Star Global Concert performs their finale, a rendition of John Lennon’s iconic “Imagine,” at the Gran Teatro de La Habana in Havana, Cuba.
Courtesy of Steve Mundinger
The cast of the 2017 International Jazz Day All-Star Global Concert performs their finale, a rendition of John Lennon’s iconic “Imagine,” at the Gran Teatro de La Habana in Havana, Cuba.

Airs Friday, Aug. 7, 2020 at 10 p.m. on KPBS 2 (not available to stream)

This program is no longer available to stream on demand.

More than 50 world-renowned artists come together for an extraordinary International Jazz Day all-star global concert, recorded at the Gran Teatro de La Habana in Havana, Cuba on April 30, 2017.

The event marked International Jazz Day, the one day each year that jazz is celebrated worldwide, bringing together people of all ages, backgrounds, and nationalities in more than 190 countries on all seven continents.

Preview: International Jazz Day from Cuba on PBS

This all-star global concert highlights one of the largest-ever assemblages of Cuban and American artists on a single stage, and its many historic moments include a first-time collaboration between bassist Esperanza Spalding and Cuban music legend Bobby Carcassés, and stellar emceeing from host Will Smith and music legend Quincy Jones.

Music legend Quincy Jones (left) and actor Will Smith host the 2017 International Jazz Day All-Star Global Concert in Havana, Cuba.
Courtesy of Steve Mundinger
Music legend Quincy Jones (left) and actor Will Smith host the 2017 International Jazz Day All-Star Global Concert in Havana, Cuba.

The concert spans virtually every era and corner of recorded jazz, from a swinging rendition of Gershwin’s “There’s a Boat Dat’s Leavin’ Soon for New York” by vocalist Kurt Elling and Chilean sax phenom Melissa Aldana, to a haunting take on “Bésame Mucho” from Korean vocalist Youn Sun Nah and violinist Regina Carter, to an explosive original performance by more than a dozen of Cuba’s top veteran jazz musicians.

Herbie Hancock joins Marcus Miller, Kenny Garrett, Ambrose Akinmusire and Antonio Sánchez to perform his composition “4 AM.” Cameroonian bassist/vocalist Richard Bona and Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca get the house moving with “Bilongo,” accompanied by Japanese trumpeter Takuya Kuroda.

And in true International Jazz Day tradition, the evening concludes with an ensemble performance of John Lennon’s iconic song “Imagine,” featuring an unmistakably Cuban inflection.

A co-production of WTTW Chicago and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.