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Jazz Piano


June 22-23, 2018


2018 Competitors

Joshua Espinosa

Dave Meder

ArcoIris Sandoval

Oscar Rosignoli

Isaiah Thompson

Rina Yamazaki

Ben Paterson


2018 Side Personell

MiMi Jones (Bass)

Jerome Jennings (Drums)

Dezron Douglas (Bass)

Dayeon Seouk (Drums)


2018 Ellis Marsalis International

azz Piano Competition

Final Judges

Ellis Marsalis

Aturo O'Farrill

Branford Marsalis

Jon Batiste

2018 Ellis Marsalis International

azz Piano Competition

Preliminary  Judges

Christian Sands ♦Ted Rosenthal

Monika Herzig ♦ Aaron Diehl

Orrin Evans ♦ Zaccai Curtis

Fabian Almazan



To fully understand the quality of the competitors in the competition, you must first understand the structure of the competition itself. The Ellis Marsalis International Jazz Piano Competition was structured as (4) four individual competitive performance segments over a (2) two day period.  Covering multiple styles in the jazz idiom the competitors were required to perform pieces from the bebop, modern jazz, Latin jazz, standards, blues, and New Orleans lexicon over the solo piano, trio, and quartet formats.

As an additional layer of challenge in the quartet segment the competitors had the additional difficulty of not only accompanying an instrumentalist on one song and a vocalist on another song, but they were required to sight transpose for the vocalist on the spot. All of this was done without rehearsal and without knowing which songs were to be performed by them until they stepped on stage.

Below is a brief description of the (4) Segments:

Day One

Segment One - Ellis Marsalis & the New Orleans Jazz Masters

In Segment One competitors had to choose one song written by Ellis Marsalis and one song written by one of a select few of modern New Orleans Jazz Masters and perform them with a trio.

Segment Two – Plus One

In Segment Two competitors had to perform two songs which were randomly selected for each at the time of their performance with an instrumentalist & vocalist without any benefit of rehearsal while having to sight transpose for the vocalist to their key.

Day Two

Segment Three – Solo Piano

In Segment Three competitors had to perform a ballad and a latin jazz piece all in solo form.

Segment Four – The Trio

In Segment Four competitors had to perform three songs a Blues, Bebop, and an Original) to not only show how each competitor dealt with the basic language that is the foundation of the jazz idiom but how they could continue the idioms growth.


our sponsors

The Ellis Marsalis International Jazz Piano Competition could

not be carried out with support of the following key donors:

​Alan and Catherine Morrison

The Marshall University Research Corporation

Adam Rose

Drs. William and Mayola Boykin

Art and Rebecca Samberg

Betsy Cohn

Charles and Karen Phillips

Clarence Otis & Jacqueline Taylor

The Ford Foundation

George Wein

John and Jody & Arnhold

Melanie Shorin & Greg Feldman

Mica Ertegun

Quincy Jones

Paul Simon

Barbra Streisand

Ronald Williams

Diane Reeves

The Frank Sinatra Foundation

The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation

Robert Karchmar


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Media & Press Coverage



Created & Produced By :

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Jerald Miller (Executive Diredtoe; & Executive Producer); Ellis Marsalis; & Isaiah J. Thompson (2nd Place Winner)

The Ellis Marsalis  International Jazz Piano Competition was created by Jerald Miller of the Nu Jazz Agency for the purpose of re imagining what a jazz music competition could be. Since its launch it has redefined competitions as more than just shocases, but a true test of the competitors skills putting them in real life performance situations, and offering them career based prizes, rather than just cash awatrds.

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