*The music is monk and jazz is king! That is the resounding take away from the events hosted by the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz last weekend in Los Angeles. On Sunday, November 9, 2014 President Bill Clinton received the Maria Fisher Founder’s Award for his contributions to the preservation of jazz around the world.
Monk Institute chairman Herbie Hancock stated: “President Clinton has been a jazz advocate for decades and supported the education programs of the Thelonious Monk Institute throughout his Presidency. He continues to be recognized for his creativity on the tenor saxophone, skills he honed during his youth through public school music programs.”
Joining the stellar list of stars on Sunday were Quincy Jones, Billy Dee Williams, Kevin Spacey, Wayne Shorter, Don Cheadle, Goldie Hawn, Queen Latifah, T. S. Monk, Dianne Reeves, Pharrell and Chaka Khan.
On Saturday the infamous Monk Institute International Jazz Trumpet semi final competition was held at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music in Shoenberg Hall where Berkeley’s Billy Buss, Brooklyn’s Adam O’Farrill and Chicago’s Marquis Hill nabbed the top three positions and the chance to perform in the finals on Sunday. The grand prized ended up going to Marquis Hill for his astounding rendition of “If I Were A Bell” and “Polka Dots & Moonbeams.”
Among Marquis’ winnings are a recording contract with Concord Music Group and a $25,000 first place scholarship. Sunday night judges included Ambrose Akinmusire (winner of the 2007 Monk Trumpet Competition), Randy Brecker, Roy Hargrove, Quincy Jones, Jimmy Owens and Arturo Sandoval.
Honorable mentions in the semi-finals would certainly go to Benny Benack III of Pittsburgh, Alphonso Horne of Jacksonville, Florida, Alejandro Berti of Caracas, Venezuela and Mao Sone of Chiba, Japan although all thirteen contestants were extraordinary. An added treat for the audience was the event host Thelonious Monk, Jr. who exuded his father’s cool and jazzy swag. Both nights featured the stellar trio comprised of pianist Reginald “Reggie” Thomas, bassist Rodney Whitaker and drummer Carl Allen. These guys grooved to perfection from the first stanza to the last. Highlights of the evening included Kevin Spacey’s vocal chops on “Fly Me To The Moon,” and Pharrell Williams singing his mega hit “Happy,” accompanied by Herbie Hancock. The audience went through the roof!
HOLLYWOOD, CA – NOVEMBER 09: Musician Herbie Hancock (L) and singer/songwriter Pharrell Williams perform onstage at the 2014 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition at Dolby Theatre on November 9, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz)
Air transportation for the event was provided by United Airlines, Official Airline of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. Proceeds from the All-Star Gala Concert will support the Institute’s jazz education programs in public schools across America. Through its Competition and wide range of year-round programs, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz is committed to identifying and training the world’s leading young jazz musicians who will preserve the traditions of jazz while expanding the music in new directions. All of the Institute’s education programs are provided free of charge, with a special emphasis on serving economically disadvantaged public school students and their teachers and parents. To donate or for more information go to www.monkinstitute.org. Kudos go out to all donors, volunteers, supporters and music educators with special thanks to Mr. Tony White of the Los Angeles All City Marching and Jazz Bands and to Dr. J. B. Dyas, Vice President Education and Curriculum Development Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz at UCLA.