The last day of April not only signified the start of Labor Day, it also is the day the world celebrates International Jazz Day. All the major cities in the world held some sort of celebration to mark the day and America, the cradle of jazz, was not left behind. Outgoing president Barack Obama was gracious enough to open the White House to an assortment of jazz greats and some famous guests. He kicked off festivities with a few punchlines of his own and christened his residence and office the “Blues House” in honor of Dizzy Gillespie before handing the wheel over to movie star Morgan Freeman.
A selection of legends then hit the stage to entertain the crowd and pay homage to their beloved musical genre. 74 year-old soul icon Aretha Franklin, backed by piano maestro Herbie Hancock gave a sumptuous performance, as did celebrated Cuban pianist Chucho Valdes. English pop-jazz star Jamie Cullum combined a vocal and piano solo to stunning effect. And it wouldn’t be a jazz celebration without a live performance of ‘Take Five’ by the incomparable Al Jarreau and a dash of African spice provided by master trumpeter Hugh Masekela.
Miami Based, Internationally Known