Nathan Smith Wins 2010 BMI Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize

Nathan Smith upon receiving the $3,000 BMI Foundation annual Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize and Manny Albam Commission at the BMI Jazz Composer Workshop Showcase Concert. Pictured are (from left to right) trombonist John Fedchock, jazz authority Dan Morgenstern;, BMI VP, Corporate Communications Robbin Ahrold, showcase winner Nathan Smith, saxophonist Steve Wilson;, Workshop Associate Musical Director Mike Holober, and Workshop Music Director Jim McNeely. Photo by Jamil Walker, courtesy BMI. Photo by Jamil Walker, courtesy BMI.

Nathan Smith has been awarded the BMI Foundation’s 2010 Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize for his big band work Now What? during the 22st Anniversary Summer Showcase Concert of the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop, which was held on Friday, July 1, 2010 at Christ and St. Stephen’s Church in New York City. The concert featured the BMI/New York Jazz Orchestra, a 17-piece modern repertory ensemble made up of leading New York musicians. Smith received a cash award along with a $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 next year’s concert. The prize was adjudicated during the concert by trombonist John Fedchock, jazz journalist Dan Morgenstern, and saxophonist Steve Wilson.

Middleground, the 2009 Manny Alban commission from 2009 Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize winner Sara Jacovino, was also performed on the summer showcase concert along with exciting new big band compositions from seven other composers who participated in the 2009-10 workshop: Michele Caniato, Tom Goehring, Nick Grondin, Jaunty Hackers, Steve Lindeman (who has commuted to New York from Utah in order to participate in the workshop), Jim Saltzman, and Chris Zuar.

Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize winner Nathan Smith conducting the BMI/New York Jazz Orchestra. Photo by Jamil Walker, courtesy BMI.

The BMI Jazz Composers Workshop is administered by BMI Vice President Robbin Ahrold, and led by composer Jim McNeely. The initiative began 22 years ago when composer/arrangers Bob Brookmeyer and the late Manny Albam (1922-2001), together with BMI jazz expert Burt Korall approached Robbin Ahrold, BMI’s vice president for corporate relations, with the idea of creating a program where jazz professionals could further hone their skills in composing for big band. The workshop offers a unique collaborative environment for professional jazz musicians with an emphasis on composition for the large jazz (big band) ensemble. It provides an environment where composers are free to explore new avenues in the creative process, while at the same time honing their skills. Pianist, composer-arranger, and educator Mike Holober serves as Associate Musical Director of the Workshop.