Monk Saxophone Competition Semifinalists Announced

Winner will receive $25,000 scholarship and recording contract

Grace Kelly, backstage at 2011 Newport Jazz Festival
Melissa Aldana
Ben van Gelder

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The Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition has announced the names of the 14 semifinalists in this year’s contest, which focused on the saxophone (each year a different instrument is chosen for recognition).

According to a report by Nate Chinen on the New York Times‘ ArtsBeat blog, the names of the 14 include Braxton Cook, of Silver Spring, Md.; Sam Dillon, of Great Neck, N.Y.; Lukas Gabric, of Villach, Austria; Andrew Gould, of Long Island, New York; Michael Griffin, of Sydney, Australia; Danny Janklow, of Los Angeles, Calif.; Mike Lebrun, of Framingham, Mass.; Clay Pritchard, of Denton, Tex.; and Dean Tsur, of Timrat, Israel. In addition, several saxophonists who have already established careers were also named: Grace Kelly, Melissa Aldana, Ben Van Gelder, Tivon Pennicott and Godwin Louis. As Chinen’s report pointed out, the competition requires only that an entrant be under 30-professional status is not a consideration.

The winner of the competition, to be announced next month, will receive a $25,000 music scholarship and a recording contract with Concord Records. A concert and gala celebrating the competition finalists will take place Sept. 16 at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center.

At the finals, held the evening prior to the gala, each semifinalist will be required to perform a 15-minute set before a panel of judges, which, according to the Times article, will include Jimmy Heath, Wayne Shorter, Bobby Watson, Jane Ira Bloom and Branford Marsalis. The saxophonists will be accompanied by Rodney Whitaker on bass, Reginald Thomas on piano, and Carl Allen on drums.

A tribute to the late keyboardist and composer George Duke will also take place during the event. Duke had been scheduled to serve as the concert’s musical director.

The concert will feature, among others to be announced, John Beasley (Musical Director), Brian Blade, Terri Lyne Carrington, Vinnie Colaiuta, Kurt Elling, James Genus, Herbie Hancock, Roy Hargrove, Jimmy Heath, Branford Marsalis, T.S. Monk, John Patitucci, Danilo Pérez, Take 6 and Cassandra Wilson.

Ticket Information

Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition Semifinals

Sunday, September 15th, 2013 at 1:00 p.m.

Baird Auditorium at the National Museum of Natural History, 10th St. & Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC

Tickets are free of charge and will be distributed by the Smithsonian Associates at the National Museum of Natural History on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 12:00 p.m.

Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition Finals

and All-Star Gala Concert

Monday, September 16th, 2013 at 7:30 p.m.

Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater, 2700 F St. NW, Washington, DC

Tickets are $50 to $75 and may be purchased via the Kennedy Center box office in person, by calling 800.444.1324, or online at Information regarding VIP packages, which include admission to the post-event VIP Cast Party, is available from the Institute at 202.364.7272 or [email protected]

Proceeds from the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition and All-Star Gala Concert will help fund the Institute’s public school jazz and blues education programs across Washington D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Delta.

The semifinals will be streamed online at the Web sites of the Smithsonian Institution and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.”