On July 11 bassist and composer Noriko Ueda (pictured) was named the winner of the BMI Foundation/Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize for her piece “Castle in the North.” The award, which was given at the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop’s annual showcase concert at Merkin Hall in New York, consists of a $3,000 cash award and a commission for another piece that will be premiered at next year’s concert.
The commission was named this year in memory of the late Manny Albam, who was one of the Workshop’s founding musical directors. Ueda’s piece was selected from three finalists. Judges included drum master Max Roach, director of Rutgers University jazz studies Dan Morgenstern, radio host Phil Schaap and director of jazz studies at Queens College Michael Mossman.
Ueda is a native of Japan and has been a member of the BMI Jazz Composer’s Workshop since 1999. She was trained in classical piano and studied classical voice at Osaka College in Japan, began playing bass at age 19, and studied jazz composition at Berklee College of Music. She currently resides in New York City, and keeps busy with a number of gigs, including touring with the all-female big band DIVA.
Ueda has performed with Nancy Wilson, Joe Chambers, Bob Newsome, Joel Frahm and others, and she’s a former member of the all-Japanese female trio Groovin’ Girls. She was also featured on the soundtrack to the 1999 PBS short film Times Square Transfer and the 1996 documentary film Jamming.