The DC Jazz Festival organization has announced the finalists for its DCJazzPrix Competition, to be held on Sept. 5 as part of the weekend-long festival. The three artists chosen—Giveton Gelin Quintet, Camilla George, and Dayramir Gonzalez & Habana enTRANCe—will compete not only for a $15,000 grand prize but also for “customized business development and career impact services, extensive publicity training, and a highly visible 2022 DC JazzFest engagement with commensurate compensation,” according to the press release received by JT. In keeping with the global nature of jazz and the festival itself, all three bandleaders have roots outside of the continental United States: Gelin from Nassau, Bahamas; George from Nigeria; and Gonzalez from Cuba.
Unlike most jazz competitions, which focus on individual excellence, the DCJazzPrix celebrates bands. Willard Jenkins, the artistic director for the festival and one of the founders of the competition, said that a deliberate choice was made to recognize the legacy of groups in jazz. “We chose to stage a band competition for several reasons,” Jenkins explained in an email to JazzTimes. “The essence of jazz expression is the democratic interaction between musicians in an ensemble, or band setting or configuration, which is a core element of the jazz tradition. Our idea was to honor that tradition, and in our own small way continue to advance [it], and also to distinguish ourselves from the other very worthy jazz-based competitions, which tend to focus on individuals or soloists, as opposed to bands.”
Jenkins said that the criteria for this competition, now in its seventh year, are a combination of the usual contest requirements, with an extra wrinkle. “The criteria boil inevitably down to artistic excellence,” Jenkins said. “And applicants must clearly demonstrate that they are a working band, as opposed to a band assembled for this competition, or an otherwise ‘pickup’ band.” Past winners include the EJB Quartet (2020), the Ernest Turner Trio (2019), Cornerstore (2018), the Amp Trio featuring Tahira Clayton (2017), and New Century Jazz Quintet (2016).
Learn more about the competition and the festival here.