Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz

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Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz
Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz high res logo.jpg
Formation 1986
Type Non-profit
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Key people
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk, Jr.
Maria Fisher
Thomas R. Carter

The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz is a non-profit music education organization co-founded in 1986 by Thelonious Monk III, the son of the late American jazz musician Thelonious Monk, opera singer Maria Fisher and jazz musician Clark Terry.

The Institute has held the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition annually since 1987, offered its full scholarship Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance graduate-level college program since 1995, and organized jazz education programs in public schools throughout the United States and around the world.

College program[edit]

One of the Institute's earliest goals was to create a unique college-level jazz program where the masters of jazz could pass on their expertise to the next generation of jazz musicians the way Thelonious Monk had done in his Manhattan apartment throughout the '50s and '60s. In September 1995, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance was launched and the first class of seven students began their intensive training with some of the world's greatest musicians.

The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance is a tuition-free two-year program that accepts one ensemble of musicians for each class. All of the students receive full scholarships, as well as stipends to cover their monthly living expenses. The students study both individually and as a small group, receiving personal mentoring, ensemble coaching, and lectures on the jazz tradition. They are also encouraged to experiment in expanding jazz in new directions through their compositions and performances. Alumni include Ambrose Akinmusire, Lionel Loueke, and Gretchen Parlato. The Institute is currently located at the Herb Alpert School of Music at the University of California Los Angeles.

Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition[edit]

Since 1987, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz has presented its annual International Jazz Competition. More than $60,000 in scholarships and prizes is awarded to musicians and composers each year. The competition focuses on a different instrument every year and features a panel of judges. Branford Marsalis, Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock, Clark Terry, Marian McPartland, Quincy Jones, and Diana Krall have all served as judges at past competitions.

The competition is internationally recognized[according to whom?] as a significant event for identifying and launching the careers of young aspiring jazz artists, such as Joshua Redman, winner of the 1991 saxophone competition, Marcus Roberts, winner of the 1987 piano competition, Ryan Kisor, winner of the 1990 trumpet competition, and Joey DeFrancesco, a finalist in the 1987 piano competition. The 1993 piano competition winner, Jacky Terrasson, signed with Blue Note Records. The 1998 vocals competition produced: the late Teri Thornton, winner of the competition who signed with Verve Records; second-place winner Jane Monheit who signed with Columbia; semifinalist Tierney Sutton who signed with Telarc; and third-place winner Roberta Gambarini, whose American debut album, Easy to Love, was nominated for a 2007 Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Female. Aaron Parks placed third in the piano competition of 2006 and was subsequently signed by Blue Note Records. Since 2008, the first-place winner has received a guaranteed recording contract with Concord Music Group. Dozens of other semifinalists have forged successful careers as jazz performers and educators.[1]

International Jazz Day[edit]

In November 2011, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially designated April 30 as International Jazz Day to celebrate jazz as a universal language and tool for diplomacy. International Jazz Day is chaired and led by Irina Bokova and jazz pianist/composer Herbie Hancock, who serves as a UNESCO Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue, and also as Chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. The Institute is the lead nonprofit organization charged with planning, promoting and producing this annual celebration, which began in 2012.

International Jazz Day was founded to bring together communities, schools, artists, historians, academics, and jazz enthusiasts all over the world to learn about jazz and its roots. This day seeks to raise awareness of the need for intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding; and also to reinforce international cooperation and communication. Each year on April 30, International Jazz Day will celebrate jazz as symbolic for promoting peace, fostering dialogue among cultures, allowing freedom of expression, and reinforcing the role of youth for social change.

UNESCO and United Nations missions, U.S. embassies and government outposts around the world hosted events for the first annual International Jazz Day on April 30, 2012. Venues and organizations in more than 100 countries marked the day with concerts, educational events, film screenings, and performances featuring world-renowned artists.

On April 30, 2012, UNESCO and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz jointly presented three concerts: a daylong celebration at UNESCO world headquarters in Paris; a sunrise concert in New Orleans’ Congo Square; and a sunset concert at the United Nations General Assembly Hall in New York City. Among the musicians that participated were John Beasley, Tony Bennett, George Benson, Terence Blanchard, Richard Bona (Cameroon), Dee Dee Bridgewater, Candido, Terri Lyne Carrington, Ron Carter, Robert Cray, Jack DeJohnette, George Duke, Sheila E., Herbie Hancock, Antonio Hart, Jimmy Heath, Hiromi (Japan), Zakir Hussain (India), Chaka Khan, Angelique Kidjo (Benin), Lang Lang (China), Joe Lovano, Romero Lubambo (Brazil), Shankar Mahadevan (India), Ellis Marsalis, Jr., Wynton Marsalis, Hugh Masekela (South Africa), Christian McBride, Marcus Miller, Danilo Pérez (Panama), Wayne Shorter, Esperanza Spalding, Treme Brass Band and Stevie Wonder. Hosts included Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Quincy Jones.

Istanbul, Turkey was chosen as the Global Host City for International Jazz Day 2013.[2] Istanbul hosted a daylong series of jazz events, including jazz workshops, roundtable discussions, film screenings, student master classes, and an evening performance which was broadcast live worldwide.

Other educational programs[edit]

Jazz in the Classroom[edit]

Since 1989, the Institute has gone into public schools to provide music instruction and instrument training sessions for public school students in Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Washington, DC, as well as thousands of students in urban, rural, and remote areas of the country.

National Jazz Curriculum[edit]

In 2000, the Institute launched Jazz in America [3] an internet-based jazz curriculum designed to be taught in 5th, 8th, and 11th grade American history and social studies classrooms. This curriculum is free, open to all, and seeks to examine the evolution of jazz styles, contributions of important performers, and musical techniques involved in the creation and performance of jazz.[4] The program's public school touring component includes jazz artists such as Antonio Hart, Lisa Henry, T.S. Monk, Vanessa Rubin, and Bobby Watson.

The Blues and Jazz – Two American Classics[edit]

This internet-based curriculum traces the roots of the blues, its impact on jazz, and its importance to American history and culture. Lesson plans for American history and social studies students explain the connections between the blues and jazz from the blues' inception to today. The program's public school touring component includes blues/jazz artists such as Herbie Hancock, Alvin "Youngblood" Hart, Chris Thomas King, Keb' Mo', and Joe Louis Walker.

Performing Arts High Schools Jazz Program[edit]

This program brings jazz musicians and educators into public performing arts high schools in order to provide intensive jazz training to students. Through this performance-based program, music students receive instruction in composition, theory, improvisation, history, and musical styles, preparing them to attend leading college, university, and conservatory music programs. The program is offered at Chicago's High School for the Arts (ChiArts) and Gallery 37 Center for the Arts; Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas; Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts; Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts in Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts; Miami's New World School of the Arts; New Orleans Center for Creative Arts; New York City's LaGuardia High School of Music, Art and Performing Arts; Newark's Arts High School; and Washington, DC's Duke Ellington School of the Arts.

BeBop to Hip-Hop[edit]

Begun in 2004 in the Los Angeles public schools, "Bebop to Hip-Hop" brings together jazz and hip-hop students under the direction of professional jazz musicians and hip-hop artists. Aspiring young musicians study improvisation, lyric writing, music theory, arranging, composition, turntable scratching, and sampling. Recent concerts included performances by Billy Childs, Herbie Hancock, Roy Hargrove, DJ Spark, Doug E. Fresh, Kool Mo Dee, Chali 2na, Supernatural, and Bobby Watson.

International programs[edit]

The Institute's students and major jazz artists have traveled around the world as jazz ambassadors, presenting education programs throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and the Caribbean. U.S. Department of State sponsored programs:

For three years beginning in 2002, UNESCO sponsored a tour of Paris, where the Institute's college students performed with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Dianne Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and T.S. Monk at International Philosophy Day.

In 2008, students of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance performed with Danilo Perez at the Panama Jazz Festival.

Television specials[edit]

The Institute has produced a series of television specials to highlight the importance of jazz. In 1986, the Institute produced "Celebrating a Jazz Master: Thelonious Sphere Monk," a PBS tribute concert hosted by Bill Cosby. In 1993, the Institute coordinated "A White House Jazz Festival," the first "In Performance at The White House" PBS special taped with President and Mrs. Clinton. In 1996, the Institute produced "A Celebration of America's Music," the first network television special devoted to jazz in over 25 years, which aired on ABC. A second "A Celebration of America's Music" aired in 1998. In 2006, President and Mrs. Bush hosted a concert celebrating the Institute's 20th anniversary that aired as an "In Performance at The White House" PBS special hosted by Barbara Walters. In addition, the Institute's international jazz competitions have been featured as documentaries on Black Entertainment Television and its affiliates.

Art for the 2013 Saxophone Competition

Artwork and donations by Billy Dee Williams[edit]

Billy Dee Williams has donated artwork that has been used as the cover of the Institute's International Jazz Competition since 1990. The artwork corresponds with the instrument being featured in that year's competition. Jazz singer and painter Kathy Kosins (among others) have their works prominently featured in the institute's offices in Los Angeles.

Partnership with North Coast Brewing Company[edit]

California's North Coast Brewing Company produces a Belgian-style beer called Brother Thelonious in honor of the musician. For each bottle sold, the brewers make a donation to the Thelonious Monk Institute.[5]

Thomas R. Carter[edit]

Thomas R. Carter, President, co-founded the Institute in 1986 with the family of jazz pianist Thelonious Sphere Monk. The following year, he co-founded the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. In 1995, he helped create the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, now at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.[6] Carter served as the producer of several "Jazz at the White House" gala concerts that were taped and aired as PBS television specials. He also initiated and served as executive producer of "A Celebration of America's Music," a one-hour ABC television special that was broadcast in 1996 and became the first jazz television special to air on network television in more than 25 years. In 1997, Carter served as executive producer for a second ABC television special. In 2011, he oversaw a series of educational programs in the United States and abroad that marked the Thelonious Monk Institute's 25th anniversary. That same year, he helped establish International Jazz Day, a worldwide annual April 30 celebration of jazz designated by UNESCO, and presented in partnership with the United Nations, the U.S. Department of State, and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.[7]


External links[edit]