The 2013 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition and All-Star Gala Concert came to a close with roaring applause as first place winner Melissa Aldana traded choruses with saxophone great Jimmy Heath and joined an all-star cast in a finale featuring Heath's classic composition "Gingerbread Boy."
Presented by the world-renowned Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in partnership with Cadillac, this year's Presenting Sponsor, the stellar event featured the finals of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition with performances by first place winner Melissa Aldana, 24 of Santiago, Chile; Tivon Pennicott, 27, of Marietta, Georgia; and Godwin Louis, 28, of Harlem, New York. Tivon and Godwin were named second and third place winners, respectively. At stake was more than $100,000 in scholarships and prizes, including a $25,000 first place scholarship and guaranteed recording contract with Concord Music Group. This year's competition judges included a distinguished panel of saxophonists: Jane Ira Bloom, Jimmy Heath, Branford Marsalis, Wayne Shorter and Bobby Watson.
First place winner Melissa Aldana captured the audience's attention with her performances of Jimmy Van Heusen's "I Thought About You" and her original composition "Free Fall." Tivon Pennicott performed Sonny Rollins' "Strode Rode" and Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" and Godwin Louis performed Hoagy Carmichael's "Skylark" along with his original composition, "Our Father" inspired by the Lord's Prayer. Each finalist was accompanied by a dynamic band featuring pianist Reginald "Reggie" Thomas, bassist Rodney Whitaker and drummer Carl Allen.
The evening also featured a star-studded Gala Concert under the musical direction of John Beasley and with hosts Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk, Jr. and Billy Dee Williams. The Gala began with a rousing tribute to the blues featuring Charley Patton's "Saddle My Pony" and Elmore James' "Please Set a Date." The outstanding cast included Beasley with Vinnie Colaiuta, Robben Ford, James Genus, Marcus Miller and Cassandra Wilson.
The Institute presented the legendary Wayne Shorter with a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his extraordinary, six-decade career as a saxophonist, educator and composer. In the Institute's nearly 30-year history, this is only the second time the award has been presented, the first being to Quincy Jones in 1996. Shorter was presented with the award following remarks by lifelong friend and musical compatriot Herbie Hancock. A musical tribute to Shorter included world-renowned artists Gerald Clayton, Kurt Elling, Herbie Hancock, Roy Hargrove, Jimmy Heath, Branford Marsalis, Marcus Miller and Take 6 performing some of Shorter's most beloved compositions, including "Black Nile" from his classic Blue Note solo recordings, "Fall" and "Footprints" from his time with the Miles Davis Quintet, and "Palladium" from Weather Report's best-selling Heavy Weather album. Shorter then took the stage with Brian Blade, John Patitucci and Danilo Perez – the extraordinary members of his current quartet – to perform his classic compositions "Over Shadow Hill Way" and "Joy Ryder." Also performing in the festivities were the Monk Institute's Jazz Performance Program College Students along with the 2013 edition of the Thelonious Monk Institute National Performing Arts High School All-Star Jazz Sextet.
The evening concluded with a heartfelt tribute to the late George Duke, a longtime Institute collaborator who was to have served as the evening's Musical Director. Stunning vocalist Ledisi performed "You Never Know" from DreamWeaver, Duke's final album, released just two months ago. This was followed by the incomparable a cappella group Take 6 performing a shimmering rendition of Duke's "Fly Away."
SOURCE Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz