It looked like any other music department classroom at UCLA on Dec. 6, with the chairs rapidly filling up and a group of musicians warming up at the front. But instead of students, the note-takers were journalists who had been invited to a unique experience: a master class with Herbie Hancock, Chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute, and Wayne Shorter at the helm. Their presence, along with other guest faculty, introduced the return of the Monk Institute to Los Angeles after an extended period in New Orleans. Both Hancock and Shorter are taking on professorial responsibilities with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA.
The young musicians in the front of the room-trumpeter Mike Cottone, alto saxophonist Josh Johnson, trombonist Eric Miller, drummer Jonathan Pinson, bassist Dave Robaire, pianist Miro Sprague and vibraphonist Diego Urbano-are members of the Institute’s new Class of 2014, the first since the return to UCLA. Eager to show their musical wares to their stellar professors, they played with the near-professional skills characteristic of past Monk Institute ensembles.