Jazz Performance Fellows off to 2018 Panama Jazz Festival

The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance Class of 2018 traveled to Panama City, Panama today to participate in the 15th annual Panama Jazz Festival. The brainchild of pianist and UNESCO Artist for Peace Danilo Pérez, who also serves as Artistic Director, the event consists of a week of performances, panel discussions and education programs featuring an astonishing array of regional and international artists. This year’s Festival includes Institute Trustee Wayne Shorter’s renowned quartet, pianist and composer Ran Blake, and pianist Chucho Valdés and his quartet, among others. Pérez himself will perform with his Panamonk Revisited Trio, which also features bassist Ben Street and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington.

As part of the 2018 Festival, the Institute’s students will participate in a concert & jam session at the Villa Agustina cultural space, and will give a full concert at the famed Danilo’s Jazz Club. They will also conduct free workshops for local students and aficionados, complementing the Festival’s strong emphasis on education and community engagement (this year’s schedule includes well over three-dozen clinics).

Class of 2018 bassist Luca Alemanno (second from right) conducts a workshop with local students as part of the 2017 Panama Jazz Festival.

This is the second year that the Class of 2018 has participated in the Panama Jazz Festival. The Institute is one of five U.S.-based educational institutions to be included in this year’s program, alongside the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, the New England Conservatory, the New York Jazz Academy and the Santa Monica-based Crossroads School.

For more information on the 2018 Panama Jazz Festival, click here.

Peer-to-Peer All-Star featured on CNN’s “Turning Points”

Trumpeter, New Orleans native, and Thelonious Monk Institute Peer-to-Peer All-Star alumnus John Michael Bradford was recently featured on CNN’s program “Turning Points,” which profiled the talented young musician’s experience after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Bradford, who was just seven years old when his family was forced to evacuate, credits his relationship with legendary trombonist, bandleader and fellow evacuee Big Sam Williams for inspiring his choice of music as a career. Reflecting on his experience, Bradford notes, “I think music can turn a tragedy into something that’s beautiful, because it can touch so many people, and I think everyone can relate to it.”

Trumpeter John Michael Bradford (far right) performs with the 2014 Peer-to-Peer All-Stars at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Trumpet Competition in Hollywood, California. Photo: Steve Mundinger

After returning home, Bradford took up the trumpet and went on to attend the prestigious New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA), one of twelve partner institutions in the Institute’s National Performing Arts High Schools program. While at NOCCA, he was selected as a member of the Institute’s 2014 Peer-to-Peer All-Star group, an ensemble of talented high school students from across the nation, and performed with vocalist Kellylee Evans at the 2014 Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Trumpet Competition & Gala in Hollywood, California.

Bradford currently attends the Berklee School of Music in Boston, Massachusetts and recently released his debut album, “Something Old, Something New.”

Watch the video here via WGNO.

College Program Alumnus Davy Mooney brings worldwide experience to the classroom

Jazz guitarist and Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance graduate Davy Mooney is off to a solid start with his engagement as Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of North Texas. Mooney recently received a profile in the North Texas Daily, which highlighted his uniquely international background as a musician and educator.

“Between international guitar competitions, tours in South America and a Japanese record label, Davy Mooney has had quite the worldly experience in music.”

Mooney, who was a finalist in the 2005 Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Guitar Competition and a member of the College Program class of 2009, appears to be applying this experience admirably in his newfound position. “Davy has been a fantastic addition to the jazz program,” says one student. “He has a very deep understanding and appreciation for the tradition of jazz. His depth of knowledge is so inspiring.” Notes another, “he is an amazing player with a special ability to notice what aspects students should work on in order to advance to the next level…He’s also very enthusiastic about everything that is happening in school and with his students.”

The Jazz Studies Department at the University of North Texas is widely acknowledged as one of the top programs of its kind in the world, and was the first university in the United States to offer a degree in jazz studies. Its renowned One O’Clock Lab Band has served as an early proving ground for numerous top jazz musicians, including Bob Belden, Herb Ellis, Jimmy Giuffre, Conrad Herwig, and Ari Hoenig, among others. With the addition of Mooney on faculty, who is himself also a graduate of the UNT program, we are certain this number will only continue to grow.

Read the full article here.

UNESCO Announces 2018 & 2019 Global Hosts for International Jazz Day

UNESCO is pleased to announce that the International Jazz Day Global Host Cities for the next two years will be Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation, in 2018 and Sydney, Australia, in 2019.

International Jazz Day is celebrated annually on 30 April in more than 190 countries. The day pays tribute to the art form of jazz and its power to promote dialogue among cultures, embrace diversity, and deepen respect for human rights and all forms of expression. The cities of Saint Petersburg and Sydney were chosen for their unique contributions to the development of jazz. The jazz scene in Russia was born in 1927 in Saint Petersburg with the appearance of the “First Concert Jazz Band” in the concert hall of the St. Petersburg State Capella, followed by the creation of the first jazz collective in 1929. Saint Petersburg is the only city in Russia to have a Jazz Philharmonic Hall, founded in 1989.

Festivities are set to take place in some of Saint Petersburg’s most significant venues, such as the Mariinsky Theatre. Saint Petersburg’s bid to become a host city was supported by renowned Russian saxophonist Igor Butman.

In Australia, jazz is a flourishing art form, which in recent years has seen an increasing number of players and growing audiences. Australia is host to the world’s largest youth jazz festival, “Generations in Jazz,” which is held in the city of Mount Gambier.

Sydney plans to hold the flagship All Star-Global Concert in the iconic Sydney Opera House, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the streets of the city will come alive with jazz through a daylong programme of “Jazz in Squares,” featuring school bands and jazz combos. Other cities across Australia expected to join in the multi-day celebration include Adelaide, which is a UNESCO Creative City for Music. Australia’s celebrated jazz musician James Morrison was instrumental in the effort to secure Sydney’s bid to host International Jazz Day 2019.

Each year, the All Star-Global Concert, which features UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and iconic jazz pianist Herbie Hancock and dozens of other internationally acclaimed musicians from around the world, is the culminating event of International Jazz Day.

In addition to the main events in Saint Petersburg and Sydney, UNESCO will continue to encourage the participation of schools, universities and non-governmental organizations, as well as public radio and public television around the world. Various performing arts venues, community centres, artists, arts organizations, libraries and educational institutes will also organize activities around jazz.

The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz is the lead nonprofit organization charged with planning, promoting and producing the annual celebration of International Jazz Day.

Visit JazzDay.com for more information.