Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Dates for 2005 Thelonious Monk Competition Set

This year’s Thelonious Monk International Jazz Guitar Competition – the 18th annual – will take place Sept. 18 and 19 in Washington, D.C. This year’s hosts include Herbie Hancock, Billy Dee Williams and special guest Quincy Jones.

The competition will be judged by Bill Frisell, Earl Klugh, Russell Malone, Pat Martino and John Pizzarelli as 10 students from throughout the globe compete for over $60,000 in scholarships and prizes. The semifinals will take place on Sept. 18 at 1 p.m. at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. The competitions’s final round will be the following day at 7:30 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater. The final performance will consist of three finalists paying tribute to George Benson.

Accompanying the judges will be a jazz combo featuring Chris Potter on tenor saxophone, James Genus on bass, Terri Lyne Carrington on drums and Bob James on piano. There will also be a performance by this year’s winner of the competition following the presentation of the three finalists. For this year’s composer’s competition, aspiring composers are judged on originality, creativity and excellence in compositions featuring the jazz guitar.

After the competition performances, the event’s judges will take the stage along with Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk Jr., Terence Blanchard, Wayne Shorter, Clark Terry, Jimmy Heath, Bob James and others. The Maria Fisher Founder’s Award will also be presented to George Benson for his contributions to jazz guitar.

In the past, the Thelonious Monk International Competition has helped start the careers of Jane Monheit, Joshua Redman, Tierney Sutton, Marcus Roberts and Bill Cunliffe, to name a few. Each year, the competition concentrates on one instrument – in the past, piano, bass, drums, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, guitar and vocals have all been the focus of the competition.

Tickets for the Sept. 18 semifinals are free and will be distributed at Baird Auditorium by the Smithsonian Associates (202-357-3030) on a first-come, first-served basis beginning 90 minutes prior to the 1 p.m. starting time. Tickets for the Sept. 19 finals at the Kennedy Center may be purchased at the Kennedy Center box office by calling Instant Charge at 202-467-4600 or online at For information about Gala tickets, which include a VIP post-performance dinner and party, please call the Smithsonian at (202) 364-7272.

For those not in the area, the competition will be taped as a documentary for BET and BET Jazz and will include performances by the semifinalists, backstage interviews with finalists and judges and footage from the post-competition reception.

For more information about The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz visit

Originally Published