Asuka Kakitani Wins BMI Foundation’s Charlie Parker Jazz Prize

Posted in News on July 6, 2006
Jazz composer Asuka Kakitani has been named the winner of the BMI Foundation's 7th Annual Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize for her piece, "Dance 1." Presented on July 6 during the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop's annual showcase concert at New York's Merkin Hall, the prize includes the Manny Albam Commission, a $3,000 award given to the writer of the best new work composed in the Workshop. The commission, named in memory of the late Manny Albam, the Workshop's longtime musical director, calls for Kakitani to write another piece to be premiered at next year's concert. Last year's winner, Sherisse Rogers, premiered her commissioned work, "I Stand Corrected."

Workshop Associate Musical Director Michael Abene, saxophone legend Joe Lovano, slide trombone master Robin Eubanks, Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize winner Asuka Kakitani, jazz authority Dan Morgenstern and Workshop Musical Director Jim McNeely

"Dance 1" was chosen from among five outstanding works nominated by the Workshop's musical directors. The prestigious judging panel, made up of three leading members of the jazz community, included jury foreman Dan Morgenstern, a celebrated jazz critic and writer, and Director of the Institute for Jazz Studies at Rutgers University; Grammy Award-winning saxophone legend Joe Lovano, winner of the Berklee School of Music's first endowed chair, the Gary Burton Chair for Jazz Performance; and slide trombone master Robin Eubanks, a member of both Dave Holland's quintet and big band, who teaches jazz trombone at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize winner Asuka Kakitani conducts her winning piece, "Dance 1"

The BMI Jazz Composers Workshop is led by internationally renowned composers Jim McNeely and Michael Abene, and offers a unique collaborative environment for professional jazz musicians with an emphasis on composition for the large jazz (big band) ensemble. McNeely has performed with and written for Chet Baker, Stan Getz, Joe Henderson and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, among others, and is a six-time Grammy Award nominee. Abene is the Dean of the Manhattan School of Music, and has composed and arranged for Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Rich, Chick Corea and others; he is also a well-known record producer.

From Left to Right: Robbin Ahrold, Michael Abene, Asuka Kakitani, and Jim McNeely. Photo by Frank J. Oteri

The Workshop, a well-known forum for creative excellence, provides an environment where composers are free to explore new avenues in the creative process, while at the same time honing their skills. The annual summer concert features the BMI/New York Jazz Orchestra, a 16-piece modern repertory ensemble made up of leading Workshop members.

photos by Robbin Ahrold


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