First Filipino: Getting Down With Thelonious Monk

Monday, November 10, 2008

This news is a couple weeks old, but still definitely worth mentioning that I caught over at Asians In America Magazine about Filipino American Jon Irabagon who won the Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition:

Historic First: A Filipino-American Wins Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition. The Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition is the most prestigious jazz competition in the world. It has launched the careers of a number of major jazz greats including Joshua Redman, Jane Monheit, and Joey DeFrancesco. This year, a Filipino-American, Jon Irabagon, won the competition.

In addition to a $20,000 scholarship, Irabagon was also awarded a recording contract with Concord Music Group. The label plans to release Jon's album in mid-2009.
Here's another snippet from an article down at Good News Pilipinas:

Jon is the first Filipino to win this competition that is ranked no. 1 in the world in terms of prestige. Along with the top prize, he also took home a $20,000 scholarship and a record contract with Concord Music Group, one of the leading jazz labels in the US. Raised in Chicago, Jon has been playing the saxophone since he was eight years old, and has one album out as a leader, “Outright!” (Innova). He can also be heard on the new release by the pugnacious post-bop group Mostly Other People Do the Killing. If you would like to watch the newest Fil-Am pride — he will perform at the 4th Annual Filipino-American Jazz Festival at the Catalina Bar & Grill, also in Hollywood, on December 27.
And a little bit more about Jon from the bio on his blog:

Jon picked up the alto saxophone in 4th grade and piano shortly thereafter, but didn't become serious about music until high school. At this time Jon began playing gigs in suburban Chicago, where he grew up, and quickly found himself playing different kinds of music. He then attended DePaul University in the heart of the city to continue his music education, obtaining a Music Business degree with a minor in Journalism in 2000. During these formative years, Jon performed with notable jazz musicians John Abercrombie and Tom Harrell, pop superstars Richard Marx and the Pointer Sisters, and up-and-coming crooner Michael Buble. Jon recorded many albums as a sideman during this developmental time in his musical growth. These recordings span the gamut as far as musical styles go, and include everything from traditional big band recordings to orchestral settings, Brazilian dance music to avant-garde jazz, and backing up singers to backing up hard rock bands.

In the fall of 2001, Jon moved to New York City to attend the Manhattan School of Music and study with one of his idols, Dick Oatts. After receiving his Master's Degree there in 2003, Jon was invited to play lead alto for the recently-formed jazz program at the Juilliard school, and received an Artist Diploma there in 2005. Since that time, Jon has been performing in and around New York City, and has toured through the continental United States, Europe, Costa Rica, Japan, and Taiwan.