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

Hancock to Host Monk Competition and Concert

Herbie Hancock (pictured) and Billy Dee Williams will, along with special guest Quincy Jones, host the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz’s 17th annual Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition and Gala Concert, in Washington, D.C. on Sept 12 and 13. The 2004 Competition will feature 13 emerging jazz vocalists who will be competing for more than $60,000 in scholarships and prizes.

The competition semifinals will be held on Sun., Sept. 12 at 1 p.m. at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, Baird Auditorium, (10th St. & Constitution Avenue, NW). On Mon., Sept. 13 at 7:30 p.m., three finalists will perform with a group of jazz all-stars in the Eisenhower Theater at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The Competition, often compared in stature to that of the classical Tchaikovsky and Van Cliburn Competitions, is one of the most prestigious jazz competition in the world. It has launched the careers of vocalists Jane Monheit and Tierney Sutton, saxophonist Joshua Redman and pianists Marcus Roberts and Jacky Terrasson. These artists and dozens of others from past competitions have forged successful careers as performing and recording artists as well as music educators.

Each year the Competition shines a spotlight on young artists from varying jazz disciplines which have included piano, bass, drums, saxophone, trumpet, trombone and guitar. This year’s competition features a panel of judges that includes internationally renowned jazz singers Dee Dee Bridgewater, Kurt Elling, Al Jarreau and Jimmy Scott. Accompanying the competing singers will be a jazz combo featuring drummer Carl Allen bassist Lonnie Plaxico and pianist George Duke, who also serves as the event’s Artistic Director.

Along with performances by the finalists, the event will feature a performance by pianist Misha Piatogorsky, this year’s winner of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Composers Competition. The $10,000 Composers Award is presented annually to the young, aspiring composer who best demonstrates originality, creativity, and excellence in jazz composition. This year’s Composers Competition is devoted to compositions featuring creativity in jazz vocals.

The second half of the event will feature performances by the vocals competition judges. They will be joined by Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk, Jr., Terence Blanchard, Wayne Shorter, Clark Terry, Jimmy Heath, George Duke and others, along with the very talented students from around the world who study in the degree program of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at the University of Southern California. The Institute’s Maria Fisher Founder’s Award will be presented to senator Orrin Hatch, who has made outstanding contributions to the Institute and the world of jazz.

A Gala VIP After-Party fundraiser hosted by senator and Mrs. Ted Stevens and Joseph E. Robert, Jr. will immediately follow the Competition Finals in the Kennedy Center’s Atrium. Honorary vice chairs include senators Lamar Alexander, Thad Cochran, Susan Collins, Elizabeth Dole, Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Hagel, Arlen Specter and John Sununu; congressmen John Conyers, Norm Dicks, John Dingell, David Dreier, Harold Ford, John Lewis, Ed Markey and George Miller; congresswoman Nancy Pelosi; and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. For information about gala sponsorships or tickets, or to receive an invitation to the gala, please contact Judy Brophy at 202-364-7272 or e-mail [email protected].

The competition will be taped as a documentary for Black Entertainment Television and the BET Jazz cable network. The documentary will feature performances by the semifinalists, backstage interviews with the finalists and judges and footage from the post-competition reception.

The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz ( was established in 1986 in memory of the renowned jazz pianist and composer. Its mission is to preserve America’s legacy of jazz through performance and education. The Institute offers promising young musicians college-level training by America’s jazz masters and presents school-based jazz education programs for young people around the world. Additionally, the Institute provides scholarships, performance opportunities and worldwide recognition to gifted young musicians through its many jazz education programs. The Institute’s most recent project is Jazz in America: The National Jazz Curriculum, a free, Internet-based curriculum for 5th, 8th and 11th grade public school students, located at

Tickets for the September 12 semifinals are free of charge 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 September 13 finals at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater may be purchased at the Kennedy Center box office, by calling Instant Charge at 202-467-4600 or on the web at

Originally Published