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The Man behind Jazz in Mauritius

Gavin Poonoosamy

Mauritius is not only about stunning white sandy beaches and relaxing holidays, but also about art and music. This is the month of Jazz on the Indian Ocean Island Nation Mauritius.

Dear Gavin, I hope this finds you and your family safe and well. On behalf of UNESCO, the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, and the organizing team behind International Jazz Day, I wish to express my sincere gratitude for your incredible efforts to celebrate International Jazz Day during this year of unprecedented challenges for our global community. Signed by Herbie Hancock, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue

This letter was sent to Gavin Poonoosamy, a Mauritius-based music promoter and cultural impresario. Gavin and his dedicated team of creatives, music educators, and producers, had been making their mark as an active International Jazz Day partner in the Southern Hemisphere.

MAMA JAZ is no mere collection of concerts in Mauritius; rather, the initiative is grandly conceived as “an adventure in human musical culture.” Indeed, as founder Poonoosamy explains, the dedicated efforts behind MAMA JAZ are born not out of a quest for recognition or financial gain, but from a desire to foster human connection.

“We celebrate music and jazz every single day in different ways at a human level,” says Poonoosamy. “To have an international day dedicated to jazz provides yet another incentive. Focusing global joint efforts on one impact makes sense to us, just as much as connecting with the various jazz [and] music energy sources is exciting.”

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It is known since 2016 as MAMA JAZ

MAMA JAZ is a month-long festival based in Port Louis, Mauritius dedicated to creative music and jazz.

International Jazz Day is made possible thanks to the voluntary efforts of organizers at all levels of civil society in more than 190 countries worldwide. Whether small or large, organizations have an important role to play in facilitating the global celebration, lending their resources and accumulated expertise to curate multifaceted programs that make significant impacts on the local community.

Thanks to these efforts, International Jazz Day has become a widely anticipated moment on municipal and regional cultural calendars, promoting capacity building in the relevant cultural sectors and increasing awareness of jazz and its role as a vector for peace and intercultural dialogue. This page gratefully recognizes those institutions that have generously devoted their time and resources to ensuring that International Jazz Day is celebrated in a way that truly reflects its global identity. Read below to learn about the work of these amazing partners.

MAMA JAZ has been building awareness around International Jazz Day celebrations for Mauritian music lovers since 2016, and its ambitions extend far beyond April 30.

Under the leadership of Administrator, Technical Director & Producer Gavin Poonoosamy, along with a host of co-producers, local and international partners, and sponsors, in just a few short years MAMA JAZ has grown from an idea into a movement that confidently bills itself as “the only jazz month in the Southern Hemisphere.” Now a highly-anticipated moment on Mauritius’ cultural calendar, the festival’s reach has grown by leaps and bounds, in 2019 alone impacting hundreds of thousands of Mauritians through national television broadcasts, packed concerts, and free educational initiatives.

“We celebrate music and jazz every single day in different ways at a human level.”

– Gavin Poonoosamy

Initially envisaged as Mauritius’ major celebration of International Jazz Day, the 2016 edition featured 42 Mauritian artists performing over 70 hours of music across 50 venues. The project was a smashing success, with the week’s activities attracting more than 5,000 festivalgoers. Starting in 2017, the organizers scaled up with a full month of activities spanning a suite of public educational workshops, concerts featuring 70 Mauritian and international artists in a dozen local venues, and telecasts to a sizable portion of the island nation’s 1.3 million inhabitants.

In addition to introducing Mauritians to world-class musicians hailing from Bulgaria, France, Great Britain, Mozambique, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, Switzerland, the United States, and beyond, MAMA JAZ makes a point to highlight “the creative genius of Mauritius” through live performances throughout the month of April. Complementing these “analog” efforts, beginning in 2018 MAMA JAZ co-launched a podcast series, Nepetalakton, which pays tribute to “jazz and its influence on other sounds.” Nepetalakton’s inaugural episode was released on April 30, 2018, in honor of International Jazz Day, and showcased a brilliant set of jazz-influenced house music curated by Canadian DJ Lexis. The 2021 mix highlighted renowned French-born DJ Deheb.

The festival’s website makes it clear that MAMA JAZ is no mere collection of concerts; rather, the initiative is grandly conceived as “an adventure in human musical culture.” Indeed, as founder Poonoosamy explains, the dedicated efforts behind MAMA JAZ are born not out of a quest for recognition or financial gain, but from a desire to foster human connection.

“We celebrate music and jazz every single day in different ways at a human level,” says Poonoosamy. “To have an international day dedicated to jazz provides yet another incentive. Focusing global joint efforts on one impact makes sense to us, just as much as connecting with the various jazz [and] music energy sources is exciting.”

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About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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