Established in 1987, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Competition is the most prestigious of its kind, recognized for discovering the next generation of jazz masters. The competition focuses on a different instrument each year and features an all-star judging panel. Past judges have included Dave Brubeck, Quincy Jones, Diana Krall, Christian McBride, Marian McPartland, Pat Metheny, and many others. This high-profile annual event has launched the careers of Marcus Roberts, Joshua Redman, Chris Potter, Jacky Terrasson, Joey De Francesco, Ambrose Akinmusire, Ben Williams, Jane Monheit, Melissa Aldana, Cécile McLorin Salvant and Tierney Sutton, to name a few. Dozens of semifinalists have forged successful careers as jazz performers and educators. The winner is guaranteed a recording contract with Concord Music Group.
Each year the competition receives an extraordinary amount of publicity and press coverage in a variety of publications from The New York Times and The Washington Post to People magazine. National Public Radio has presented one-hour specials on past competitions that have reached 20 million listeners, and Black Entertainment Television has produced competition documentaries featuring performance clips and interviews with the contestants and judges.