For 30 years the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Competition has played a pivotal role in identifying and empowering the next generation of jazz musicians. Since its inaugural edition in 1987 — in which pianist Marcus Roberts took first place — the competition has gone on to mint many certified jazz stars, including saxophonists Joshua Redman and Seamus Blake, vocalists Gretchen Parlato and Cecile McLorin Salvant, trumpeters Ambrose Akinmusire and Marquis Hill, drummer Jamison Ross and bassist Ben Williams.
Now, in its inaugural year as the renamed Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, the organization builds upon this important legacy by presenting an international guitar competition December 2-3 in Washington, D.C. The competition will be open to musicians age 30 and under. The first prize winner will receive a $30,000 scholarship and a guaranteed recording contract with Concord Music Group; second place will receive a $15,000 scholarship; and third place will receive a $10,000 scholarship.
Since its inception, the Monk Competition has striven to cast a wide spotlight across the jazz world by highlighting a different instrument every year. One thing has remained constant, however: a commitment to assembling the world’s greatest jazz musicians to serve on its panel of judges. The semifinals of the 2019 Herbie Hancock International Jazz Guitar Competition will be no different. Held on Monday, December 2nd, from noon to 5:00 p.m. at the Smithsonian Institution, this initial phase of the competition will find participants performing before an all-star panel of judges that includes jazz guitarists Stanley Jordan, Russell Malone, Pat Metheny, Chico Pinheiro, Lee Ritenour and John Scofield. Each semifinalist will perform for 15 minutes accompanied by a professional rhythm section.
From this group, the judges will select three finalists who will perform in the final round at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday evening, December 3rd. It will be the first guitar competition since 2005, which found Norwegian guitarist Lage Lund taking first place above Miles Okazaki and David Mooney. (See below for a video of Lund performing with 2013 competition winner Melissa Aldana on saxophone.)
“We look forward to discovering and hearing from the next generation of young jazz guitarists, with their innovative styles and unique approach to the music,” said the organization’s namesake, keyboardist Herbie Hancock, in a press statement. “We are particularly excited to pay homage to the guitar, which has a rich and colorful history that continues to play a pivotal role in the development of jazz. I have no doubt that this year’s Competition will show that the future of this instrument, and of our music, is in good hands.”
The application for the 2019 Guitar Competition can be found at hancockinstitute.org. All materials must be submitted no later than Friday, October 11, 2019. Please submit any questions to Leonard Brown at [email protected] or by phone at +1 (202) 364-7272.
Founded in 1986 as the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz is a nonprofit education organization offering the world’s most promising young musicians college-level training by internationally acclaimed jazz masters and presenting public school music education programs for young people around the world. The organization began operating as the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz in January 2019 in recognition of Hancock’s commitment to the Institute since its establishment, his expert guidance as the organization Institute Chairman, and his immense contributions to and impact on music, education and humanity.
For more information on the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, click here.