PARIS —Herbie Hancock and scores of other big names in sound, rhythm and improvisation gathered Friday in Paris to celebrate a new annual event: International Jazz Day.

Hancock, a UNESCO goodwill ambassador, is the force behind the creation of a world day of jazz April 30 starting Monday.

The yearly event aims to encourage people around the world to break down barriers between them using music.

“International Jazz Day is the great metaphor for international harmony,” Hancock told The Associated Press in an interview, before kicking off jazz day at UNESCO where it gets an early start.

Things were getting groovy behind the sober, concrete walls of the headquarters of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

About 400 students from Paris music conservatories and schools were taking master classes from Hancock, Dee Dee Bridgewater or Ibrahim Maalouf.

Workshops, films, lectures and performances by musicians from around the world preceded an evening concert with an array of artists, including South Africa’s Hugh Masekela and French-born Manu Katche.

Many countries, from Azerbaijan to India, plan activities of their own to celebrate jazz on Monday.