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Tue, 02.04.1986

The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Opens

*The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz is celebrated on this date in 1986.  They are a non-profit music education organization.  

The institute was started by T. S. Monk, the son of the late American jazz musician Thelonious Monk, opera singer Maria Fisher and jazz musician Clark Terry.  The institute has held the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition annually since 1987, offered its full scholarship to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance graduate-level college program since 1995, and organized jazz education programs in public schools throughout the United States and the world.  One of the institute's earliest goals was to create a unique college-level jazz program where the Master of Jazz could pass on their expertise to the next generation of jazz musicians the way Thelonious Monk had done in his Manhattan apartment throughout the '50s and '60s.

In September 1995, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance was launched, and the first class of seven students began their intensive training with some of the world's greatest musicians.  Now known as the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance, the two-year, tuition-free program accepts one ensemble of musicians for each class. All of the students receive full scholarships, as well as stipends to cover their monthly living expenses. The students study individually and as a small groups, receiving personal mentoring, ensemble coaching, and lectures on the jazz tradition. They are also encouraged to experiment with expanding jazz in new directions through their compositions and performances.

The institute is currently located at the Herb Alpert School of Music at the University of California, Los Angeles.  Since 1987, the institute has presented an annual international competition. More than $100,000 in scholarships and prizes are awarded yearly to musicians and composers. The competition focuses on a different instrument every year and features a panel of judges. Branford Marsalis, Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock, Clark Terry, Marian McPartland, Quincy Jones, and Diana Krall have all served as judges at past competitions.  The competition participants and winners include Joshua Redman, Marcus Roberts, Ryan Kisor, Joey DeFrancesco, Teri Thornton, Tierney Sutton, Roberta Gambarini, Aaron Parks, and others. Since 2008, the first-place winner has received a guaranteed recording contract with Concord Music Group. Dozens of other semifinalists have forged successful careers as jazz performers and educators.  

Originally known as the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, in 2019, it was renamed after its longtime Board Chairman, Herbie Hancock.  

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