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"Ode to The Human Spirit," a sold-out evening of jazz organized by SGI-UK at London's Kings Place on April 30 to mark UNESCO International Jazz Day 2014, brought together a great array of jazz talent, including U.S. multireedist, composer and SGI-USA member Bennie Maupin, best known for his work on "Bitches Brew" with Miles Davis and "Head Hunters" with Herbie Hancock.
The Human Revolution Orchestra, a specially formed big band comprising 26 UK jazz names, some of whom are SGI-UK members, joined with guest performers in a diverse selection of 14 pieces ranging from fresh takes on jazz standards to new arrangements and compositions. Guests included renowned U.S. pianist Marc Cary and UK vocalists Liane Carroll and Randolph Matthews. The Human Revolution Orchestra was supported by the SGI-UK singers and SGI-UK strings.
Sean Corby, SGI-UK member and artistic director of The Human Revolution Orchestra, described the orchestra as an "ecumenical ensemble, respecting our individual faiths and spirituality, including secular spirituality and, through music, express[ing] our desire to contribute to creating a better, more just society.”
Robert Harrap, general director of SGI-UK, welcomed the audience. In his message in the event program, he stated, "Jazz has long stood for the breaking down of ethnic, religious and gender barriers… it shows what human beings are capable of in terms of transforming their hearts and spirit. This echoes the Buddhist principle of 'turning poison into medicine' where individuals create value for themselves and others out of challenging situations."
April 30 was officially designated as International Jazz Day by UNESCO in November 2011 in order to highlight jazz and its role in uniting people in all corners of the globe. The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz plays a leading role in planning the main events for International Jazz Day each year. The 2014 Global Concert was hosted by the city of Osaka, Japan. related article Bringing Hope Into Focus by Dan McKinney Cinematographer Dan McKinney describes how his Buddhist practice has enabled him to find within himself the qualities he needs to successfully connect to and portray the humanity of the people whose stories he is telling.
Herbie Hancock, member of SGI-USA, UNESCO ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue and chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute, is chair of International Jazz Day together with UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova. Mr. Hancock and SGI President Daisaku Ikeda sent congratulatory messages to the participants of "Ode to The Human Spirit," which raised funds to support the work of UNICEF around the world.
[Adapted from reports from SGI-UK; photos courtesy of SGI-UK]
The Human Revolution Orchestra: A Collaboration for Humanity
by Sean Corby, cofounder, Human Revolution Orchestra, SGI-UK
Restoring Our Humanity
Soka Gakkai in America: Focused on Servant Leadership and Dialogic Teaching
by William Aiken, director of public affairs, SGI-USA
Toward a World Free from Misery
by Olivier Urbain, director, Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research
Seeds of Hope: The Power of One
by Barbara Jenkins, SGI-USA
Strengthening the Voice of Women at the UN
by Ivy Gabbert, SGI Office for UN Affairs, New York