Australian jazz great James Morrison will play at the White House before President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama on April 29.
He’ll be part of the Washington DC bill for the 5th International Jazz Day All-Star Global Concert, alongside Herbie Hancock, Aretha Franklin, Sting, Al Jarreau, Hugh Masekela, Chick Corea, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Buddy Guy, Diana Krall, John McLaughlin, Pat Metheny, Jamie Cullum, Lee Ritenour, David Sánchez, Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding and Trombone Shorty, among others.
Morrison, who is this week touring China with students from his JM Academy, said, “I am delighted to be performing for the President of the United States and the First Lady. I have played for Presidents Bush and Clinton on their official visits to Australia, but to play for President Obama at the White House will be extra special. And to perform with so many great artists from around the world in such a wonderful setting shows that what jazz does best is bring people together, often in ways that nothing else can.”
Morrison added that the invitation to be the sole Australian among some of jazz’s most illustrious names “also shows the respect the Australian jazz scene commands around the world, especially in the USA – the home of jazz. It shows Australian jazz is up there with the very best.”
Herbie Hancock, noting how many of the artists came from all over the world, declared that jazz’s influence has spread beyond its roots in America, and now “incredible” jazz musicians are found everywhere. “That really shows me the power of the music and the fact that it has reached every country on the planet,” he said. He also acknowledged the Obamas’ “commitment to jazz and its role in building bridges and uniting people around the world.”
The show will be televised the day after in America on the ABC network as a prime time one-hour special called Jazz In The White House. It will also be streamed on the United Nations, UNESCO, U.S. State Department and White House websites as well as International Jazz Day Facebook Page.
It is not known if Jazz In The White House will get an Australian screening.
International Jazz Day is hosted in different cities each year, with Istanbul, Osaka and Paris among them. The event is an initiative of UNESCO and presented with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz to highlight the power of jazz as a force for freedom, creativity and a global music language.