The BMI Jazz Composers Workshop, a noted creative forum for musical exploration and development, highlighted the best new jazz compositions created during the last year at its 21st Anniversary Summer Showcase Concert on June 26 at Christ and St. Stephens’s Church. The concert featured the BMI/New York Jazz Orchestra, a 17-piece modern repertory ensemble made up of leading New York musicians.
The evening also featured a competition to choose the winner of the BMI Foundation’s ninth annual Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize, given to the writer of the best new work composed in the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop. Composer Sara Jacovino won the competition for her composition “Mental Block,” and received a cash award along with a $3,000 commission to compose a new piece for the following year’s concert. Last year’s Manny Albam Commission winner, Jeff Fairbanks, premiered his commissioned work, “Mulberry Street.” The Commission is named in memory of the Workshop’s co-founder and longtime musical director.
This year’s judges include Secret Society bandleader and composer Darcy J. Argue; noted jazz drummer and composer Dennis Mackrel; and premiere jazz bassist Rufus Reid.
The BMI Jazz Composers Workshop is led by internationally renowned composer Jim McNeely and offers a unique collaborative environment for professional jazz musicians with an emphasis on composition for the large jazz (big band) ensemble. 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. McNeely has performed with and written for Chet Baker, Stan Getz, Joe Henderson and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, among others; is a six-time Grammy Award nominee; and The New York Times has called his writing “exhilarating”. Pianist, composer-arranger, and educator Mike Holober serves as Associate Musical Director of the Workshop.