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Live Reviews

Monk Competition 2007: Trumpets

By Published: November 22, 2007

Philip Dizack's unusual arrangement of Van Heusen's "Polka Dots and Moonbeams brought pizzazz to his segment of the competition, making him one of the best semifinalists, a player exhibiting extended range, emotional spirit, and superb cohesiveness with the piano trio. Semifinalist Caze exhibited intuitive stage presence during three selections, running fast, slow and fast again. The airy ballad that he chose for his middle piece was weak, but his high register came through as his strongest feature on all three.

Josh Evans, unlike most semifinalists, provided a nod to Thelonious Monk with one of his song selections. While he displayed a beautiful, natural trumpet tone, his ballad selection, like Caze's, was also weak. Semifinalist Akinmusire stole the competition right from his first few phrases. Placing the bell of his horn quite close to the microphone reminiscent of Miles Davis, he communicated with the audience with a natural, conversational air. Finally, he proved his point with some experienced half-valve work—icing on the cake.

Nadje Noordhuis was the only competitor to bring both flugelhorn and trumpet to the stage. Recalling the great Rafael Mendez's programming and technique, she opened strong on trumpet with a ballad, drove hard for her second number, and closed on flugelhorn with another ballad.

Unlike the other semifinalists, Charles Porter announced his songs: Monk's "Evidence, Joni Mitchell's "Periwinkle's Mood and Ellington/Tizol's "Caravan. He brought plunger mute and Harmon mute to the stage and used them wisely, creating a New Orleans atmosphere that brightened the day. Let's face it. Any competition of this nature is bound to be filled with tension, and Porter brought a looseness to the affair that no one else appeared to consider important. Finally, Vitaly Golovnev closed the semifinal competition with a strong performance that included a soulful ballad.

The ten semifinalists this year weren't simply "talent deserving wider recognition. They were all dedicated professionals who brought winning talent and ability to the stage. Only minute degrees separated them from each other in the final judging. Representing a cross-section of world's trumpeters, they came from New York, Wisconsin, Illinois, Haiti, Connecticut, California, Australia, Florida and Russia with experience that included Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra, the North Sea Jazz Festival, working at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, issuing CD recordings of their own, performing with the band Chicago, touring with Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter as well as with Sherrie Maricle's DIVA Jazz Orchestra, appearing on the BET Jazz cable network, and working with the Mingus Big Band.

Thelonious Monk Institute at All About Jazz

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