Big band leader and composer Jamie Begian has been named the winner of the second annual BMI Foundation/Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize for his piece, “Fuzzy Math.” 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 19. Begian’s prize also includes a commission to write another piece to be premiered at next year’s concert.
Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize winner Jamie Begian (center) shows off his BMI Crystal after the presentation to workshop members Scott Reeves, Anita Brown and Rufus Reid, winner of last year's first Charlie Parker Composition Prize; judges Dan Morgenstern and Phil Schaap; workshop member Rob Middleton, winner of the 1999 Jerry Harrington Composition Award; workshop members J.C. Sanford, Rex Cadwallader, Laura Andel, winner of the 1997 Jerry Harrington Composition Award, and Joe Phillips; workshop director Burt Korall; workshop members Ed Xiques and Debra Weisz; workshop co-musical director Jim McNeely; judge Bill Kirchner; and (kneeling) BMI's Charlie Feldman. photo: Gary Gershoff
His winning piece was selected from among three compositions by a panel of jazz experts including Dan Morgenstern, jazz historian and Director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University; WKCR-FM’s Phil Schaap, New York radio’s legendary voice of jazz; and Bill Kirchner, award-winning composer, educator and instrumentalist.
Workshop Co-Musical Director Jim McNeely, Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize winner Jamie Begian, Workshop Director Burt Korall and BMI's Charlie Feldman
“The three pieces were all excellent, but our decision was unanimous,” said Morgenstern, speaking on behalf of all the judges. “‘Fuzzy Math’ is an impressive work, and reflects the high standards of the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop. Congratulations to all involved.”
Workshop Director Burt Korall, Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize winner Jamie Begian, BMI Foundation President Thea Zavin and Workshop Co-Musical Director Jim McNeely
A member of the Workshop for the past eight years, Jamie Begian began composing for large ensemble in 1990 while still a graduate student at the Manhattan School of Music. He founded the Jamie Begian Big Band in 1998 and it has since earned the reputation of being one of the most original big bands in New York City. The band performs regularly at local clubs like the Knitting Factory and the Cutting Room, and has just finished recording a CD of 11 compositions including the Charlie Parker Prize-winning work, “Fuzzy Math.” In addition to his work as a composer and a band leader, Begian teaches various guitar and jazz courses at Western Connecticut State University and New York University. He most recently studied composition privately with trombone virtuoso Bob Brookmeyer, the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop’s very first musical director.
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.