Jazz Day celebrations transition to virtual formats | 29 April 2020
• Jazz has the diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe – even in a pandemic
In celebration of International Jazz Day, celebrated annually on April 30, an association for Jazz musicians in Seychelles was to be officially launched this week, alongside a series of other local activities and events.
With the current restriction of movement and activities locally, these activities have been cancelled, but the National Conservatoire of Performing Arts (NCPA) is persevering, along with the rest of the world, to encourage people to commemorate the day through virtual formats.
Now more than ever, during a pandemic, the role of this art form will truly be appreciated; it was in 2011 that Unesco declared that International Jazz Day will serve to “highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe”.
Following is the interview with Pierre Joseph, director of Performing Arts at the NCPA about this year’s Jazz Day.
Seychelles NATION: How does the NCPA feel now that the proposed activities and events have been cancelled?
Pierre Joseph: We are somewhat disappointed but it is happening to all other sections of the society and the world. It is unavoidable!
In fact the 9th annual International Jazz Day will transition to a virtual format for 2020 instead of taking place as previously planned in Cape Town.
NCPA is preparing to have a few audio and video sessions shared by musicians on that day.
Seychelles NATION: How can people still celebrate Jazz Day at home?
Pierre Joseph: It is the recognition of jazz across borders. It is now going to be a virtual one, so we can all follow the seminars, performances and pre-recorded music on the Unesco official site called “jazzday.com”.
Locally, I will ask everyone to listen in to Radyo Sesel with Barbara Coopoosamy who will play some jazz for you. We are also going to upload a number of pieces on social media where we have created a facebook page called “JazzChelles”.
Seychelles NATION: Do you feel that Jazz can help to bring people together, to bring comfort, peace and harmony during this difficult time?
Pierre Joseph: Yes. As with all other genre of music, jazz bridges the gap between the main stream and avant-garde. It engages all ages of people and it surely breaks barriers of class and political inclinations.
This often happens in concerts! And lively improvised ones too! This time, none of those can be done. The passing of jazz musicians to COVID-19 has perhaps been some of the saddest for me as no gathering and sending off through music could be done.
However, throughout the years, particularly in the 1920s when more recordings were made, jazz music was so powerful that it contributed to the recognition of women as strong leaders.
We are finding that no confinement can hold off jazz, and music for that matter!
Carlos Santana plays through Skype for instance, and all you need is an internet connection to follow him. Montreux Jazz Festival has made available 50 streams for free where you get to see Ray Charles, Wu-Tang Clan, Johnny Cash, Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye and Deep Purple!
For once, all access to jazz music is at a click away!
Seychelles NATION: What is your hope for the rest of the year, and even next year, to celebrate Jazz?
Pierre Joseph: We have more time now to work on Jazz Day in April 2021, but with the soft launch of the Association of Jazz Musicians of Seychelles, we are hoping that a focal point will be made at the School of Music, where a programme for jazz will be kick started and that eventually we can start getting more students asking about it, and why not learning it.
Soon this year, we are hoping to honour our founding Jazz musicians. Seychelles has a young but interesting jazz history! We have to start by recognising that.
I also want to mention that Jazzchelles, the association for jazz in Seychelles is asking everyone interested in their creative endeavour to register with them by emailing email@example.com to find out what is happening. It will be the best way to share ideas and get connected with other jazz groups.