Herbie Hancock to promote jazz as U.N. ambassador

Sat Jul 23, 2011 7:14am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

PARIS (Reuters Life!) - Jazz musician Herbie Hancock was appointed a UNESCO goodwill ambassador, pledging to use music to cross cultural boundaries and promote literacy and creativity among youth around the world.

The pianist and composer, who has won 14 Grammy awards and seen many of his songs become standards during a career spanning five decades, threw his support behind a UNESCO project to declare an international jazz day on April 30 each year.

"The idea is to have performances, but not just performances, to have discussions, to have dances to have perhaps even some fun games to do with the history of jazz that young people might be interested in," Hancock said in an interview before his appointment at a ceremony at UNESCO headquarters late on Friday.

The 71-year-old musician, who shot to fame in the 1960s playing with trumpeter Miles Davis, also hopes to use his celebrity to win inclusion for jazz on the list of intangible world cultural heritage of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The list aims to promote respect for cultural heritage and increase mutual respect for communities worldwide.

Hancock said he would lobby U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, for Washington to recognize the UNESCO convention on intangible cultural heritage.

Hancock, who was acclaimed as a child prodigy after he started playing piano in 1947, believes that music can bring a wider educational message to many young people, particularly in developing countries.

"One idea that is interesting to me is jazz as a metaphor for targeting literacy. With jazz, you don't just pick up an instrument and start improvising: it's about discipline. Freedom with discipline is the ethos of jazz," he said.

A devout Buddhist, Hancock's latest musical venture, the Grammy-winning "Imagine Project," featured musicians from around the world and he says he is considering another similar album.   Continued...

<p>U.S. jazz musician Herbie Hancock gestures during a news conference in Istanbul July 4, 2011. REUTERS/Cihat Caner</p>