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 24th Anniversary Summer Showcase Concert on June 28 at Christ & St. Stephen’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 13th annual Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize, given to the writer of the best new work composed in the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop. Composer Matt Holman won the competition for his song “What Are You Thinking,” and received the $3,000 Manny Albam Commission – named in memory of the workshop’s co-founder and longtime musical director – to compose a new piece for the following year’s concert. Last year’s Manny Albam Commission winner, Jim Saltzman, premiered his commissioned work “Multiple Personality Disorder” during the evening.
This year’s judges included soprano saxophonist/composer Jane Ira Bloom; premier jazz bassist Rufus Reid; and jazz pianist, composer and author Lewis Porter.
The BMI Jazz Composers Workshop, led by internationally renowned composer Jim McNeely and pianist, composer, arranger Mike Holober, offers a unique collaborative environment for professional jazz musicians to compose for large jazz (big band) ensembles. McNeely has performed with and written for Chet Baker, Stan Getz, Joe Henderson and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, among others; The New York Times has called the six-time Grammy Award nominee’s writing “exhilarating.” McNeely is also Composer-in-Residence with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and Chief Conductor of the Frankfurt Radio Big Band. Holober, the Musical Director of the Westchester Jazz Orchestra and the Associate Conductor of the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, can be heard on over 50 recordings as a sideman. He is also the leader of the Gotham Jazz Orchestra.