The semifinals will take place on September 18 at the Smithsonian Institution's Baird Auditorium at the Smithsonian Institution. The finals are at the Eisenhower Theater at the Kennedy Center on September 19.
Pianist Herbie Hancock and actor Billy Dee Williams will be the hosts of the finals concert, joined by composer and arranger Quincy Jones. 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 finalists, the concert will include 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; pianist Marcus Roberts was the first winner. Subsequent winners include trumpeter Ryan Kisor, saxophonist Joshua Redman, pianist Jacky Terrasson, and vocalist Jane Monheit.