Ben Paterson (left) of Philadelphia was awarded top prize at the inaugural Ellis Marsalis International Jazz Piano Competition Saturday at Pullman Square in Huntington. The event was hosted by Marshall University in partnership with Nu Jazz Agency of New York City.
As winner, Paterson receives a $25,000 cash prize; a record contract with ELM Records; and management, marketing, booking, and promotions assistance from Nu Jazz Agency in . First prize also includes guaranteed performance opportunities at venues and festivals around the world, including a night at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in New, York; SOUTH Jazz Bistro in Philadelphia; the San Jose Jazz Festival in California; Le Duc des Lombards in Paris; and the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music in New Orleans.
Second-place winner Rina Yamazaki of Saitama, Japan (left), and third-place winner Isaiah Thompson of West Orange, New Jersey, receive $10,000 and $5,000 respectively, as well as their own series of national and international performance opportunities.
They were among seven finalists for the competition, chosen from 160 musicians from around the world. The finalists performed Friday and Saturday evenings at Missio Dei Church on the upper level of Pullman Square.
The competition was part of a weeklong series of events celebrating jazz, the Huntington International Jazz Festival. The event included free photo exhibits, lectures, concerts and a street festival, and is planned as an annual event in Huntington. The Ellis Marsalis International Jazz Piano Competition is expected to be a triennial event.
Photos: Ellis Marsalis and the Marsalis Family Quintet performed at the inaugural Huntington International Jazz Festival last weekend.