April 30th 2017 was a very special day in Havana. Cuba’s capital city was host to the renowned International Jazz Day which featured an all-star global concert in the Gran Teatro. This electrifying event was filmed live and broadcast all around the world. Each year, UNESCO chooses a different city to host this very important and prestigious event. Its mission is to bring together some of the top jazz artists in the world and to celebrate jazz as a universal language transcending cultural, geographic, racial, religious and language borders and bringing harmony and peace to the world through music. Many Cuban musicians who are associated with our own KoSA musical events in Cuba played host to the International guests playing alongside, showcasing the incredible history and musical tradition that Cuba has to offer and sharing their talents with the jam-packed audience in the theatre. Many Cuban percussionists including Sabian/Gon Bops endorsed Adel Gonzáles, Ramses Rodríguez, Yaroldi Abreu, and Oliver Valdés performed alone as well as alongside great international artists such as: Herbie Hancock, Antonio Sánchez, Quincy Jones, Ambrose Akinmusire, Melissa Aldana, Carl Allen, Marc Antoine, John Beasley, Richard Bona, Till Bronner, Kenny Garret, Kurt Elling, Regina Carter, Bobby Carcassés, Igor Butman, A Bu, Antonio Hart, Takuya Kuroda, Ivan Lins, Marcus Miller, Youn Su Nah, Gianluca Petrella, Cassandra Wilson, Ben Williams, Chucho Valdés, Esperanza Spalding, Christian Sands and Gonzalo Rubalcaba.
This celebration and musical exchange did not just last for a day however. As it turned out, the International Jazz Day was a whole week of joy and musical madness as Cuban musicians hosted their international fellow artists with kindness and generosity – all international guests left this beautiful island with a richer musical vocabulary and understanding of Cuban rhythms, but also with the unparalleled feeling that music is truly a language that knows no walls and no borders.