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The Gig—Well, You Needn’t Compete

How good is good enough for the Monk Competition? How good is too good?

How good is good enough for the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition? How good, for that matter, is too good?

The first of these rhetorical questions has played out publicly each year since 1987, when pianist Marcus Roberts became the first of many important artists in the winner’s circle. The second question has always been more of a parlor game-though it gained some real traction this year, not so much because of who was among the talented contenders but because of who wasn’t, and why.

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