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Monk Competition Features Trombonists

Since its inception in 1987, when pianist Marcus Roberts took top honors, the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, held annually in Washington, D.C., has helped launch the careers of talented, young jazz artists. Winners besides Roberts who have since tasted the sweetness include Joshua Redman, Ted Rosenthal and Bill Cunliffe. The competition also boasts marquee-name judges, presenters and hosts including Bill Cosby, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Nnenna Freelon, Art Farmer, Pat Martino, Shirley Horn and even Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard B. Myers and Secretary of State Colin Powell. It is the real-deal jazz competition.

Every year a different instrument is featured at the competition and piano, saxophone, voice and bass have been well covered over the years. Trombonists, however, haven’t been given the opportunity to play before the panel at Washington’s Baird Auditorium until this year. The trombonists in this year’s competition were chosen by folks at the Monk Institute after reviewing demo CDs sent in by applicants. Only trombonists 35 or under who have never recorded as a leader or co-leader on a major or independent label are eligible to participate.

On April 26, the semifinalists will perform for a chance to advance to the finals, to be held the following day. Attending the semifinals won’t cost you a dime, but seating is given on a first come first serve basis. The finals on April 27 are a paid event, $22 for general admission and $18 for the Smithsonian’s Resident Associate Members.

For more information and to order tickets, call 202-357-3030 or visit

Originally Published