BMI jazz composer/guitarist Jim Robitaille has been named the winner of the 9th Annual BMI/Thelonious Monk Jazz Composers Competition for his work, "Arthur C." The $10,000 award was presented during the Thelonious Monk Institute's annual International Jazz Competition in Washington, DC in February. The award is given annually to the young, aspiring composer who best demonstrates originality, creativity and excellence in jazz composition.
BMI/Thelonious Monk Composer Competition winner Jim Robitaille (right) is congratulated by Secretary of State Colin Powell
Robitaille began composing at age 13 and has played professionally since 1980. He has appeared with many renowned artists, including Bob Moses, Dave Liebman, and John Lockwood. He has appeared at The Knitting Factory and Smoke in New York City, the Ryles Jazz Club in Boston, and the Providence Waterfront Festival in Providence, Rhode Island. As a clinician and private instructor, Robitaille has co-led jazz workshops at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth College, and Brandeis University. He has also received five grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
Previous winners of the BMI/Thelonious Monk Composers Competition have greatly benefited from the publicity surrounding this event, including 1996 winner Michiel Borstlap, whose composition "Memory of Enchantment" was included on Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock's Verve release, 1 + 1.
Another highlight of the evening was the announcement of the winners of the 2002 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition that included BMI composer/saxophonist Seamus Blake, who took home the First Place award of $20,000. Born in England and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Blake received a Bachelor's degree from the Berklee College of Music. While still a student at Berklee, he recorded with drummer Victor Lewis. He has since toured as a member of John Scofield's Quartet and has performed and recorded with the Mingus Big Band. In 1997, he was included in Down Beat magazine's critics poll as an artist "deserving wider recognition." Blake is also a member of the alternative jazz grunge band Bloomdaddies.
Blake (left) is seen here performing with jazz stars Wayne Shorter and Terence Blanchard.