The semifinalists were chosen on the basis of written applications and recordings; musicians under the age of 30 who have not led recordings were eligible to apply.
The semifinalists are Kyle Asche of Nebraska; Scott DuBois of Chicago; Torsten Goods of D‹sseldorf, Germany; Lage Lund of Skein, Norway; David Mooney of Louisiana; Miles Okazaki of Washington; Yotam Silberstein of Jersualem; Chuck Stevens of New Hampshire; John Storie of Oregon; and Paul Vinton of Pennsylvania.
The semifinals will take place on September 18 at the Smithsonian Institution's Baird Auditorium. The finals are at the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater on September 19.
Pianist Herbie Hancock and actor Billy Dee Williams will be the hosts of the finals concert. The competitors will perform with saxophonist Chris Potter, bassist James Genus, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, and pianist Bob James. Judges include guitarists Earl Klugh, Russell Malone, John Pizzarelli, Bill Frisell, and Pat Martino.
In addition to performances by the three musicians chosen as finalists, the September 19 concert will include a tribute to guitarist George Benson and appearances by the judges and by Hancock, drummer Thelonious Monk Jr., trumpeter Terence Blanchard, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, trumpeter Clark Terry, saxophonist Jimmy Heath, and others. It will be recorded for broadcast on the Black Entertainment Television network.
The Thelonious Monk Competition was founded in 1987; it focuses on a different instrument each year. Previous winners include pianist Marcus Roberts, trumpeter Ryan Kisor, saxophonist Joshua Redman, pianist Jacky Terrasson, and vocalist Jane Monheit.