About Us - Board of Trustees
Herbie Hancock, Institute Chairman
In addition to being recognized as a legendary pianist and composer, Herbie Hancock has been an integral part of every jazz movement since the 1960s. As a member of the Miles Davis Quintet, he became one of the pioneers of the avant garde sound. His recordings during the '70s combined electric jazz with funk and rock sounds in an innovative style that influenced a whole decade of music. Rockit and Future Shock marked Hancock's foray into electric dance music and included several chart-topping hits. During the same period he continued to work in an acoustic setting with V.S.O.P., which included ex-Miles Davis bandmates Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams. Hancock has received an Academy Award for his Round Midnight film score and numerous GRAMMY Awards. Many of his compositions, including "Canteloupe Island," "Maiden Voyage," "Watermelon Man," and "Chameleon," are modern standards that have had a profound effect on all styles of modern music.
Bill Cosby, Honorary Co-Chairman
Bill Cosby has been the Honorary Chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute since 1986. He made his television debut in "I Spy," which was the first in a string of successes that have marked Cosby's career in television. He has since recorded 21 chart-topping comedy albums, written two best-selling books, and appeared in dozens of films and television shows. "The Cosby Show," which ran from 1984 to 1992, is considered one of the most influential hit prime-time sitcoms. Cosby went on to produce the spin-off, "A Different World," which ran for seven successful seasons.
Billy Dee Williams, Honorary Co-Chairman
Billy Dee Williams grew up in Harlem and attended the High School of Music and Art. He received the Hallgarten Award Scholarship to the National Academy of Fine Arts and Design, where he studied portrait painting. Shortly afterward, Williams attended actors workshops and studied with Paul Mann and Sidney Poitier. In 1971 he established himself as a major television star in the ABC Emmy Award-winning production of Brian's Song. In the mid 1970s, Williams starred opposite Diana Ross in Lady Sings the Blues. He returned to the big screen in the 1980s as Lando Calrission in the blockbusters Return of the Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back. More recently, he has appeared in the box-office hit Batman. Since 1990, Williams has generously contributed the artwork for the cover of the Institute's competition souvenir program.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Thelonious S. Monk, Jr., Chairman
Drummer Thelonious S. Monk, Jr. is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Thelonious Monk Institute and the son of legendary pianist and composer Thelonious Monk. He grew up in a house that was a gathering place for many of the architects of early jazz. Monk was given his first set of drum sticks by Max Roach and his first drum set by Art Blakey. He played in his father's band in the 1970s and with the fusion band Natural Essence. In the 1980s, he formed T.S. Monk, an R&B group that included his sister Barbara. In 1986, he helped to found the Institute in the hopes that he could recreate the kind of learning environment that existed in his childhood home. Monk has since gone on to record numerous successful straight-ahead jazz albums.
Paxton K. Baker
Paxton K. Baker is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of BET J and BET International. An entertainment industry veteran, he is also the President of BET Event Productions. Baker began his association with BET in 1992 when the company sponsored the first St. Lucia Jazz Festival. He began consulting with BET in 1993 and helped to launch the Jazz Channel in 1996. Prior to joining BET, Baker was president and founder of PKB, which he began in 1988. From 1990 to 1993, PKB produced and purchased talent for the Aruba Jazz and Latin Music Festival, the Amsterdam Drum Jazz Festival, and the Trinidad Pan Jazz Festival. During that time, PKB also toured such acts as Gloria Estefan, Herbie Hancock, and Wynton Marsalis throughout the Caribbean and South America. Baker is also artistic director of the Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival.
James E. Farmer
James E. Farmer is the President of James E. Farmer Consulting, Inc. In 2004, he retired as Vice President, General Motors Acceptance Corp. (GMAC), completing a 38-year career in the auto industry. Farmer is a member of numerous educational, automotive and professional organizations, including the Executive Leadership Council, Arthur W. Page Society, Public Relations Society of America, National Association of Black Journalists, and National Press Club in Washington, D.C. A founding member of the Washington Automotive Press Association, he serves as President of the Presidential Scholars Foundation in Washington, DC, and a trustee of Central State University Foundation. Farmer has received numerous awards and commendations, including appointment by President George W. Bush to the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the Presidential Medallion from the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars for his outstanding support of the scholars programs, and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Award for his significant contributions to the White House Commission on Arts and Humanities. In 2005, Farmer was elected to the board of trustees of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts.
In his more than 60 years on the jazz scene, saxophonist Jimmy Heath has done it all. Having appeared on more than 125 records both as a soloist and a composer, Heath embodies the history of jazz, known for always making his musical statements with style. Heath grew up in Philadelphia alongside brothers Percy and Tootie, both renowned jazz musicians in their own right. His saxophone style, so reminiscent of Charlie Parker that it earned him the nickname "Little Bird," landed him gigs with Dizzy Gillespie, Cannonball Adderley, James Moody and others. Heath's compositions such as "CTA" and "Gingerbread Boy" have become jazz standards and have been recorded by Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, and Chick Corea. As a member of the Heath Brothers, he was nominated for a GRAMMY Award in 1980. His teaching experience includes a 10-year association with Queens College, where he was a professor in the music department and director of jazz studies. In 1994, Heath was the recipient of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Maria Fisher Founder's Award.
Sonya Y. Jackson
Sonya Y. Jackson is a leader in corporate social responsibility and reputation management. Most recently, she was Managing Director of Corporate and Community Affairs for United Airlines and President of the United Airlines Foundation, where she was responsible for guiding the mission, vision and strategy for social investments that drive the company’s image and reputation in corporate responsibility. Jackson previously held the post of President, BP Foundation and Senior Global Business Adviser for BP’s Global Social Investment Business Unit. She has also served as Executive Director of The Sears-Roebuck Foundation and Assistant Director of the Sara Lee Foundation.
Carolyn Powers combines her lifelong passions for the visual and performing arts by guiding and supporting leading institutions across the United States and internationally. Her love of music and music education was instilled at birth: her ancestral home, Dockery Farms in the Mississippi Delta, is recognized by the National Register of Historic Places for its role in the creation of blues music. Powers helped establish the Dockery Farms Foundation and serves as the Co-Chair of its Board of Directors. Alongside preserving this indelible piece of American history, she works with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and initiated the music education program “The Blues and Jazz: Two American Classics.” This innovative program provides assembly programs, master classes, instruments and daily music instruction for students in Chicago, Los Angeles, Memphis, New Orleans, Washington, D.C. and across the Mississippi Delta. Powers is the past Chair of the National Committee for the Performing Arts at the Kennedy Center, a Trustee of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, a Board member of the Grammy Museum, and a supporter of Americans for the Arts.
Saxophonist Wayne Shorter is the most significant jazz composer since the '60s. Dozens of his more than 200 compositions are considered modern standards and are performed by young artists around the world. In 1964, the same year Shorter recorded Speak No Evil, his first record as a leader for Blue Note, Miles Davis invited him to join a quartet that included Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams. Shorter was the composer who provided much of the material for the group's musical explorations, which would become an inspiration for many jazz artists that followed. He recorded 12 albums with Miles Davis, including Bitches Brew, which sparked the fusion movement of the next decade. In 1970, Shorter joined keyboardist Joe Zawinul to form Weather Report, which combined jazz harmonies with rock and funk rhythms. The group became one of the most influential musical forces of the post-jazz era. Shorter has continued to be a leading figure in the evolution of the music. In 2003, he won two GRAMMY Awards, taking his total to eight over the past 25 years. Today, his quartet with Brian Blade, John Patitucci, and Danilo Perez is recognized as the most groundbreaking jazz group of the 21st century.
Stuart Subotnick is President and Chief Executive Officer of Metromedia Company, a public media, entertainment, and communications company. Since 1981, Subotnick has negotiated all the major transactions entered into by Metromedia, including the sale of its television, radio, outdoor advertising, paging, cellular, and entertainment divisions. He has initiated and operated investments in such organizations as long distance telephone providers, motion picture companies, restaurant chains, hotels, diesel pump manufacturers, medical equipment and research groups, software developers, internet providers, DVD distributors, and marketers of energy supplies and services. Subotnick is a member of the Boards of Directors of several companies and nonprofit organizations including Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc., the New World Symphony, and the Central Park Conservancy. He also serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Brooklyn Law School.
Clark Terry's most memorable feature, beyond his superlative skill on the trumpet and greater than his tremendous tone on the flugelhorn, is his warm-hearted spirit. Terry began his career fresh out of the Navy, performing in bands led by such musicians as Charlie Barnet, Eddie Vinson, and Count Basie. His playing from this period had a profound effect on the musical development of both Miles Davis and Quincy Jones. In 1951, Terry joined the Duke Ellington Orchestra, where he remained for eight years and shined as a soloist both on recordings and in live performance. After leaving Ellington, Clark was invited by NBC to join the "Tonight Show" band, making him the first African-American musician to be employed by the network. His character "Mumbles" became a hit during his association with the show. Throughout the 1960s and '70s, Terry worked with a wide range of musicians, including J.J. Johnson and Oscar Peterson. He is a member of the faculty at the University of New Hampshire and conducts clinics at the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Chicago, New York University, and many other colleges and universities. Terry's work as a musician and teacher has earned him honorary doctorates, hundreds of awards, and a permanent place in the hearts of jazz fans.