UNO Grad Student Wins Thelonious Monk Competition

Jamison RossJamison Ross, Photography by Scott Myers

University of New Orleans graduate jazz studies student Jamison Ross took first prize in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Drums Competition, awarded Sunday night at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. As a winner of the competition, Ross will receive a $25,000 scholarship and a guaranteed recording contract with the Concord Music Group.

The competition is open to musicians under age 30 from across the globe. Ross beat out 11 other semifinalists to take top honors. The panel of judges included elite drummers Jimmy Cobb, Ben Riley, Peter Erskine, Carl Allen, Terri Lyne Carrington and Brian Blade. Ross was one of three finalists who performed on Sunday night as part of a star-studded gala honoring former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Ross, a 24-year-old native of Jacksonville, Fla., can be heard on tour with jazz singer Carmen Lundy, and he plays regularly with saxophonist Wess Anderson.

The Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, often compared in stature to classical music's International Tchaikovsky Competition and Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, is widely regarded as the most prestigious jazz competition in the world. Each year, the competition features a different musical instrument, and major scholarships and prizes are awarded to talented young musicians.