In 1987, the first Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Piano Competition was held. Among the winners were Marcus Roberts and Joey DeFrancesco. On a roughly annual basis, the competition is held, now focussing on a different instrument each year and renamed in 2019 the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz International Competition. The competitions in 2010 and 2015 celebrated vocalists and the juries which included Dee Dee Bridgewater, Kurt Elling, Al Jarreau, Dianne Reeves and Luciana Souza recognized Cécile McLorin Salvant and Charenee Wade in 2010 and Jazzmeia Horn and Veronica Swift in 2015 – all of whom are well on their way to making significant contributions to the music. The Classes of 2010 and 2015 in this hour of Jazz at 100 Today!
Cécile McLorin Salvant
Grammy-winning vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant released a series of critically acclaimed discs over the past decade. At AllAboutJazz, Angelo Leonardi wrote, “In her we find the grace, lightness and perfect intonation of Ella Fitzgerald, the timbre richness and rhythmic liveliness of Sarah Vaughan, the musical imagination of Betty Carter, the warm colloquiality of Carmen McRae and Nancy Wilson. In the recent past only Cassandra Wilson has achieved similar results.”
Jitterbug Waltz. Cécile McLorin Salvant solo
(Cécile McLorin Salvant-p/voc). From WomanChild. Mack Avenue. 2014.
My Man’s Gone Now. Cécile McLorin Salvant Quartet
(Aaron Diehl-p, Paul Sikivie-b, Lawrence Lethers-d, Cécile McLorin Salvant-voc). From Dreams and Daggers. Mack Avenue. 2017.
Wild Is Love. Cécile McLorin Salvant accompanied by Sullivan Fortner
(Sullivan Fortner-p, Cécile McLorin Salvant-voc). From The Window. Mack Avenue. 2018.
In recent years, Charenée Wade has been a guest on multiple projects. Nate Chinen of the New York Times has described her singing as “soulfully assured.” On the title tune of pianist Aaron Diehl’s disc, Space Time Continuum, she sings the lyrics written of Cécile McLorin Salvant.
Of Charenée Wade’s disc, Offering – The Music of Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson, James Nadal writes in AllAboutJazz, “With this production, Charenée Wade has proven that she possesses courageous talent, and is a singer whose time has come. Choosing to interpret this material was not an easy route, but in the true spirit of a jazz improviser, she absolutely made these songs her own.”
Space Time Continuum. Aaron Diehl Sextet
(Bruce Harris-tp, Benny Golson-ts, Aaron Diehl-p, David Wong-b, Quincy Davis-d, Charenée Wade-voc). From Space Time Continuum. Mack Avenue. 2015.
I Think I’ll Call It Morning. Charenée Wade Quintet
(Brandon McCune-p, Dave Stryker-g, Lonnie Plaxico-b, Alvester Garnett-d, Charenée Wade-voc). From Offering – The Music of Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson. Motéma. 2015.
In Jazzmeia Horn’s debut recording, Social Call of 2017, she exhibits her influence from Betty Carter, performing Carter’s signature tune Tight. She then solidifies her bop credentials with a racing version of Johnny Mercer’s I Remember You.
On her sophomore outing, 2019’s Love & Liberation, Horn stretched to write eight of the twelve cuts, including the first track, of which Ian Patterson wrote on AllAboutJazz, “The lively opener, “Free Your Mind,” sees Horn deliver a vocal masterclass over Ben Williams, Jamison Ross and Victor Gould’s driving rhythms. Clear articulation at speed, swinging rhythm and an impressive vocal range are attributes aplenty, but add Horn’s thrilling scat singing into the bargain and the result is little short of breath-taking. It’s no exaggeration to say that, at times, Horn’s fluency and inventiveness evoke Ella Fitzgerald in her pomp.”
Tight. Jazzmeia Horn Quintet
(Stacy Dillard-ts, Victor Gould-p, Ben Williams-b, Jerome Jennings-d/per, Jazzmeia Horn-voc). From Social Call. Concord. 2017.
I Remember You. Jazzmeia Horn Quartet
(Victor Gould-p, Ben Williams-b, Jerome Jennings-d/per, Jazzmeia Horn-voc). From Social Call. Concord. 2017.
Free Your Mind. Jazzmeia Horn Sextet
(Josh Evans-tp, Stacy Dillard-ts, Victor Gould-p, Ben Williams-b, Jamison Ross-d, Jazzmeia Horn-voc). From Love & Liberation. Concord. 2019.
Coming from a musical family, Veronica Swift has been recorded in various settings since her teens. Not surprisingly, her Mack Avenue debut, 2019’s Confessions, recorded when she was 25, is a work of great maturity and craft. With the sparest of accompaniment, in duet with bassist Russell Hall, she struts and scats her way through No Not Much. She ably tackles two Billie Holiday tunes, I Don’t Wanna Cry Any More and No Regrets, the latter recorded by her mother, singer Stephanie Nakasian, in her 2009 tribute, Billie Remembered.
No Not Much. Veronica Swift – Russell Hall duo
(Russell Hall-b, Veronica Swift-voc). From Confessions. Mack Avenue. 2019.
No Regrets. Veronica Swift Quartet
(Emmett Cohen-p, Russell Hall-b, Kyle Poole-d, Veronica Swift-voc). From Confessions. Mack Avenue. 2019.
The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Competition and its successor the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz International Competition have boosted the trajectory of many great young players for over thirty years (for example, the winners in 1991 were Joshua Redman, Eric Alexander and Chris Potter.). The past two vocalist competitions helped launch singers Cécile McLorin Salvant, Charenée Wade, Jazzmeia Horn and Veronica Swift, all of whom have recorded significant statements in the interim, promising more great music ahead.
Barnes, Phil. (2014, February 19). AllAbout Jazz. Cecile Mclorin Salvant: Womanchild. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/cecile-mclorin-salvant-womanchild-by-phil-barnes.php
Leonardi, Angelo. (2018, March 12). AllAboutJazz. Cecile Mclorin Salvant: Dreams And Daggers. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/dreams-and-daggers-cecile-mclorin-salvant-mack-avenue-records-review-by-angelo-leonardi.php
Mosey, Chris. (2018, September 21). AllAboutJazz. Cecile Mclorin Salvant: The Window.
Chinen, Nate. 2015, June 10. New York Times. Aaron Diehl “Space Time Continuum” (Mack Avenue). https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/11/arts/music/review-aaron-diehls-space-time-continuum-is-a-jubilant-new-album.html
Nadal, James. (2015, June 14). Charenee Wade: Offering – The Music Of Gil Scott-Heron And Brian Jackson. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/offering-the-music-of-gil-scott-heron-and-brian-jackson-charenee-wade-motema-music-review-by-james-nadal.php
Nadal, James. (2017, May 25). AllAboutJazz. Jazzmeia Horn: A Social Call. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/a-social-call-jazzmeia-horn-prestige-records-review-by-james-nadal.php
Patterson, Ian. (2019, September 13). AllAboutJazz. Jazzmeia Horn: Love & Liberation. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/love-and-liberation-jazzmeia-horn-concord-jazz-review-by-ian-patterson.php
Mosey, Chris. (2019, August 7). AllAboutJazz. Veronica Swift: Confessions. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/confessions-veronica-swift-mack-avenue-records-review-by-chris-mosey.php
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