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Jazz Bassist Rufus Reid Wins 1st Annual BMI Foundation/Charlie Parker Jazz Composition

Posted in News on July 31, 2000
Jazz bassist Rufus Reid has been named the winner of the first annual BMI Foundation/Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize for his piece, "Skies Over Emilia." The $3000 award, given to the writer of the best new work composed in the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop, was presented during the Workshop's annual Showcase Concert at Merkin Hall on July 20. Reid has also been commissioned to write another piece to be premiered at next year's concert.
Rufus Reid

His winning piece was selected from among three compositions by a panel of jazz experts including Dan Morgenstern, Director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University, composer/arranger/trombonist/band leader Slide Hampton and jazz alto saxophonist Lee Konitz.

"The three pieces were all excellent, but our decision was unanimous," said Morgenstern, speaking on behalf of all the judges. "'Skies Over Emilia' is an impressive work, and reflects the high standards of the Jazz Composers Workshop. Congratulations to all involved."


Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize winner Rufus Reid (2nd from left), who won for his piece "Skies Over Emilia," shows off his BMI Crystal to BMI Jazz Composers Workshop Director Burt Korall, and Co-Musical Directors Manny Albam and Jim McNeely.

With over 250 recordings to his credit, Reid is no stranger to the international jazz scene. He has performed and recorded with such jazz luminaries as Joe Lovano, Lalo Schifrin, Dizzy Gilespie, Michael Brecker, Stan Getz, Jimmy Heath, Joe Henderson, Thad Jones, among others. Born in Atlanta and raised in Sacramento, his musical background began on the trumpet but diverged to the bass during his service in the Air Force. Since then, Reid has established himself as a premier jazz bassist, as well as a respected author and educator. His book, The Evolving Bassist, first published in 1974, continues to be recognized as the definitive source on bass method. In 1997, he was honored by the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE) with their Humanitarian Award. His 30 year career on the jazz music scene was profiled in the March 1999 issue of DownBeat magazine.


Winner Rufus Reid (2nd from left) is congratulated by BMI's Robbin Ahrold and judges Dan Morgenstern, Slide Hampton and Lee Konitz.

The BMI Jazz Composers Workshop is directed by noted jazz authority and author Burt Korall, with co-musical directors Manny Albam, Jim McNeely and Michael Abene. It offers an environment where composers have the freedom to explore all avenues in the creative process with a focus on innovative large ensemble compositions in a collaborative environment. The BMI/New York Jazz Orchestra, an adjunct of the Workshop, is a 16 piece modern repertory ensemble featuring leading New York musicians who showcase new works regularly in concert and nightclub appearances. Applications for next year's Workshop are now being accepted.


Workshop Director Burt Korall (left) and Co-Musical Director Manny Albam (right, front) pose with members of the Workshop who presented new works at the annual showcase concert. Seen here after the concert are (l-r): Korall, Jamie Begian, Anita Brown, Rob Middleton, Kurt Weiss, Tim Newman, Noriko Ueda, Co-Musical Director Jim McNeely, Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize winner Rufus Reid, Joseph Phillips, Jr., Jim Marentic and Albam.

Photos: Gary Gershoff

Founded in 1985 by BMI Senior Vice President Theodora Zavin, the BMI Foundation, Inc. offers grants which make possible the continuation and development of creative programs for the composition of new music and the performance of these new compositions.

BMI, founded in 1939, is an American performing rights organization that represents more than 250,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers in all genres of music. Through its music performance and reciprocal agreements with sister organizations around the world, it grants businesses and media access to its repertoire of more than 4.5 million songs and compositions.