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Thelonious Monk Competition Finalists Share Stage with Herbie Hancock, Kevin Spacey, Taj Mahal, Pharrell Williams, Queen Latifah, John Mayer, Chaka Khan, Wayne Shorter, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dianne Reeves and a Host of Others
(Published: November 11, 2014)

Thelonious Monk Competition Finalists Share Stage with Herbie Hancock, Kevin Spacey, Taj Mahal,
Pharrell Williams, Queen Latifah, John Mayer, Chaka Khan, Wayne Shorter, Dee Dee Bridgewater,
Dianne Reeves and a Host of Others at All-Star Gala Concert Honoring President Bill Clinton

The 2014 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition and All-Star Gala Concert came to a close with roaring applause and cheers following President Bill Clinton's acceptance of the Institute's Maria Fisher Founder's Award and the announcement of Marquis Hill, of Chicago, Illinois, as first place winner of the Competition, which this year showcased the trumpet.

Presented by the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, the world's preeminent jazz education organization, the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition awarded more than $100,000 in scholarships and prizes, including a major scholarship and a guaranteed recording contract with Concord Music Group for the winner. The distinguished judges included Ambrose Akinmusire (winner of the 2007 Monk Trumpet Competition), Randy Brecker, Roy Hargrove, Quincy Jones, Jimmy Owens and Arturo Sandoval.

First place winner Marquis Hill of Chicago, Illinois, captured the audience's attention with his performance of "If I Were A Bell" and "Polka Dots and Moonbeams." Second place winner Billy Buss of Berkeley, California, performed "Brownie Speaks" and "The Quota Blues" and third place winner Adam O' Farrill of Brooklyn, New York, performed "The Moon Follows Us Wherever We Go." A dynamic band comprising pianist Reginald "Reggie" Thomas, bassist Rodney Whitaker and drummer Carl Allen accompanied each finalist.

The November 9th event at Hollywood's Dolby Theatre featured a star-studded Gala Concert hosted by Kevin Spacey, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Don Cheadle, Goldie Hawn and Billy Dee Williams. It included amazing performances by a multi-generational group of all-stars including Musical Director John Beasley, Pharrell Williams, John Mayer, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Wayne Shorter, Queen Latifah, Jimmy Heath, Chaka Khan, Taj Mahal, Dianne Reeves, Marcus Miller, Kenny Burrell, Stefon Harris, T.S. Monk, Joshua Redman, Jon Faddis, Billy Childs, Vinnie Colaiuta, James Genus, Theo Croker, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Dontae Winslow, Melissa Aldana and others.

The evening began by shining a spotlight on the young, aspiring musicians who participate in the Institute's jazz education programs. Members of the Thelonious Monk Institute Ensemble opened the show with Daniel Rotem's "Anticipation." Rotem and six other talented musicians from around the world receive full scholarships to attend the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, the Institute's master's degree program at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music in Los Angeles. The young musicians, who represent the next generation of jazz artists, study with Distinguished Professors Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, and receive ongoing instruction from many other world-renowned jazz musicians, composers and educators who serve as Artists-in-Residence.

Highlights of the Gala Concert included stage and screen star Kevin Spacey revealing his vocal ability on "Fly Me to the Moon," Bart Howard's jazz standard popularized by Frank Sinatra, with guitarist Kenny Burrell, bassist James Genus, drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts and trumpeter Jon Faddis. In another segment of the show, Herbie Hancock delighted the audience by helping Pharrell Williams rework his hit song "Happy" as a jazz arrangement.

At the Gala, the Institute honored President Bill Clinton with the Institute's 2014 Maria Fisher Founder's Award. Each year, the Founder's Award is presented to an individual who has made major contributions to the Institute, the perpetuation of jazz, and the expansion of jazz and music education programs. Past recipients include Aretha Franklin, Madeleine Albright, George Benson, B.B. King, Quincy Jones, Jimmy Heath, Wayne Shorter, Clark Terry, Dr. David Baker, George Wein, Max Roach and Stevie Wonder.

A lifelong devotee of jazz, President Bill Clinton has been a supporter of the Institute for more than two decades. Throughout his eight years in office, he showcased jazz at the White House on numerous occasions. The first "In Performance at the White House" event of his Administration was an evening of jazz on the South Lawn in partnership with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz that was televised on PBS in 1993. Beginning in the mid '90s, President Clinton invited jazz masters to travel around the world with young jazz professionals and the Institute's students, serving as ambassadors through the U.S. Department of State and sharing America's music with millions of people.

Following the award presentation to President Clinton by Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk, Jr. and Quincy Jones, the incomparable vocalist Dianne Reeves performed George and Ira Gershwin's "Love is Here to Stay" alongside saxophone legend Wayne Shorter. Later in the evening, a thrilling blues segment featured Taj Mahal and John Mayer displaying their impressive guitar playing and vocals on Robert Johnson's "Dust My Broom."

Herbie Hancock presented the Institute's 2014 Herbie Hancock Humanitarian Award, established in his honor in 2007, to United Airlines. James Compton, United's Vice Chairman, accepted the award. In addition to its longtime support of the Institute, United supports a wide range of cultural programs, youth development initiatives, and health and humanitarian aid efforts across the country and globally. The airline's Haitian relief effort following the devastating earthquake in 2010 is recognized as one of the most impactful corporate gestures of all time.

The Gala also showcased the Institute's National Performing Arts High School All-Stars, a group of gifted musicians who study with Institute teaching artists at the nation's leading public performing arts high schools. The combo performed Miles Davis' "Milestones" with captivating vocalist Kellylee Evans, a winner of the 2004 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition.

The evening concluded with the entire cast of extraordinary talents, including Competition winner Marquis Hill performing a rousing rendition of Pinetop Sparks' "Every Day I Have the Blues."

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.

More Information: http://monkinstitute.org

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