Friday, November 13, 2015

Los Angeles Hosting Monk Institute International Jazz Vocals Competition and All-Star Gala Concert

Happening this weekend, the following appeared in the November-December Jazz & Blues Report.

Vuyolwethu Sotashe at 2014 Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival
The Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Vocals Competition will be held November 14-15 in Los Angeles. This year’s Competition features some of the world's most outstanding young jazz vocalists who will sing before a judging panel that includes Patti Austin, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Freddy Cole, Al Jarreau and Luciana Souza. The Jazz Vocals Competition Semifinals will be held on Saturday, November 14 from 12 to 5 p.m. at Schoenberg Hall on the UCLA campus. Each of the eleven semifinalists will perform for 15 minutes, accompanied by pianist Reginald Thomas, bassist Rodney Whitaker and drummer Carl Allen. Three finalists will be selected for the Finals on Sunday, November 15 at 7 p.m. at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. They will vie for scholarships and prizes totaling more than $100,000 including a $25,000 first place scholarship and a guaranteed recording contract with Concord Music Group.

The 11 semifinalists are: Liam Burrows, Sydney, Australia; Christie Dashiell, Greenville, North Carolina; Jazzmeia Horn, Dallas, Texas; Sirintip Phasuk, Stockholm, Sweden; Walter Ricci, Naples, Italy; Lena Seikaly, Falls Church, Virginia; Vuyolwethu Sotashe, Butterworth, South Africa; Veronica Swift, Charlottesville, Virginia; Katie Thiroux, Los Angeles, California; Danielle Wertz, Falls Church, Virginia; and Lucy Yeghiazaryan of New York, New York and Armenia. This writer has been privileged to have seen several of the semi-finlaists perform including Vuyolwethu Sotashe, the winner of the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival's 1st Vocal Competition in 2014.
Christie Dashiell at 2014 Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival

Immediately after the Competition Finals, The All-Star Gala Concert on Sunday, November 15 will bring together some of the most renowned artists of our time. Legendary producer, composer, bandleader and humanitarian Quincy Jones, will receive the Institute’s 2015 Herbie Hancock Humanitarian Award. Herbie Hancock, Seth MacFarlane, Andy Garcia, Jeff Goldblum and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will host the event. Artists will include Patti Austin, George Benson, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Terri Lyne Carrington, Freddy Cole, Dave Grusin, Jimmy Heath, Paul Jackson, Jr., Al Jarreau, Hubert Laws, Gretchen Parlato, Arturo Sandoval, Wayne Shorter, Luciana Souza, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Ben Williams and others. John Beasley will serve as the evening’s musical director.

The Thelonious Monk Institue International Jazz Competition, is regarded by many as the most prestigious jazz competition. Each year, the Competition features a different instrument, and major scholarships and prizes are awarded to talented young musicians. For 28 years, the competition has launched the careers of a number of major jazz artists including saxophonist Joshua Redman; vocalists Cécile McLorin Salvant, Jane Monheit and Gretchen Parlato; pianist Marcus Roberts; bassist Ben Williams; and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire. Cécile McLorin Salvant was the winner the last time the competition focused on vocals and the other two finalists, Charenée Wade and Cyrille Aimée, have also led successful solo careers.
Lena Seikaly at 2014 Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival

Proceeds from the Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Vocals Competition and All-Star Gala Concert will support the Institute’s public school jazz education programs across the U.S. and around the globe. In recent years, the performances of the semi-fianls have been broadcast over the world-wide web, and one should check the Monk Insitute's website to see if they web-cast this round this year. Tickets for the gala start at $40 and are available at dolbytheatre.com. For more information about the competition and the Monk Institute’s other programs, visit monkinstitute.org.

(In addition to the Monk Institutes press release, this writer also used Nate Chinen's New York Times story for background).

On Facebook, The Monk Institute gave more details about the webcast of the semi-finals. 

"This year's MonkCompetition features Semifinalist vocalists from Australia, Italy, South Africa and Sweden as well as the United States. No matter where you are, you can watch the 2015 Semifinals round at UCLA - with all 11 of our unbelievable competitors - LIVE on monkinstitute.org. Webcast starts at 12:00 Pacific Time on Saturday, November 14. Don't miss it!"


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