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Jazz Icon Herbie Hancock appointed UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue

Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka and Mrs Sanja Jayatilleka with Herbie Hancock
(July 26, Paris, Sri Lanka Guardian) At a ceremony held at UNESCO HOUSE at Place de Fontenoy in Paris , France , on Friday the 22nd July, Director General of UNESCO, Madame Irina Bokova, designated Mr. Herbie Hancock, Jazz legend, a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for the promotion of Intercultural Dialogue. Hancock was recently bestowed with the title of "Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres" by French Prime Minister Francois Filion - the internationally esteemed French Arts Award.

Nearing 70 and in the fifth decade of his professional life, Herbie Hancock, a legendary pianist and composer, has been an integral part of every popular music movement since the 1960's. During his tenure as a member of the Miles Davis Quintet that pioneered a groundbreaking, more expansive sound and direction in jazz, he also developed new approaches on his own recordings, followed by his work in the ‘70s - with record-breaking albums such as "Headhunters" - that combined electric jazz with funk and rock in an innovative style that continues to influence contemporary music to this day. "Rockit" and "Future Shock" marked Hancock's foray into electronic dance music and included several chart-topping hits; during the same period he also continued to work in an acoustic setting with V.S.o.P., which included ex-Miles Davis bandmates Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams.

Hancock received an Academy Award for his ’Round Midnight film score and 14 Grammy Awards, including Album of The Year for "River: The Joni Letters:' and two 20 I I Grammy Awards for the recently released globally collaborative CD, "The Imagine Project." Many of his compositions, including " Canteloupe Island :' "Maiden Voyage," "Watermelon Man" and "Chameleon" are modern standards that have had a profound effect on all styles of contemporary music.

Herbie Hancock is the Creative Chair for jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, and serves as Chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, the foremost international organization devoted to the development of jazz performance and education worldwide. He is also a founder of the International Committee of Artists for Peace (IC AP ).

The ceremony was followed by a short performance and a reception. Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of the United States of America to UNESCO, David Killion and his wife hosted a dinner in honour of Herbie Hancock later that evening at their residence at which Herbie and his team went on to express interest in working with Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UNESCO, in promoting UNESCO values through their shared passion for Jazz.

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