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Herbie Hancock & Irina Bokova In Conversation




  • Introducing Herbie Hancock, Irina Bokova reflected on Hancock’s long-ago visit to UNESCO to begin an International Jazz Day, which now takes place on April 13. 
  • Herbie Hancock discussed the role of jazz in driving cultural diplomacy, with the ethics of jazz focused on sharing and dialogue. 
  • Acknowledging that Americans are all immigrants, and that only indigenous people are the true Americans, Hancock expressed his reluctance to qualify jazz as an American genre. Americans ultimately represent people from all over the world, and therefore jazz has come to represent all of humanity. With every human having originated from the African continent, jazz is a product of the culture of many nations. Hancock views jazz as ultimately being born in America, but now belonging as a global music. 
  • Passionate about jazz and education, Hancock discussed the various different programs at the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz that seek to connect history and learning through jazz. Music is unique in its ability to be productive in more than one way, while also alleviating some of the stresses that come with other forms of communication and connectivity. 
  • Jazz, and the arts in general, helps people understand identity and self-respect, as it comes from the heart. The remarkable nature of jazz and music allows artists to share their feelings through sound and ultimately encourages a form of connectivity and expression that is not always easy to achieve. 
  • Developing jazz to teach math and science, the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz is hoping to spark an innovative advancement in education.

”Historically, jazz has been used for cultural diplomacy. This will continue in the future because jazz is all about dialogue. That’s how you solve problems—by talking,” Herbie Hancock

Key takeaways & next steps:

  • Jazz and music more broadly allows for greater connectivity, education, and communication.


Session Speakers