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The Pulse: DCJazzPrix is the Rare Jazz Competition Focused on Cohesion

Elijah Jamal Balbed, winner of the 2020 DCJazzPrix.
courtesy of the artist
Elijah Jamal Balbed, winner of the 2020 DCJazzPrix.

This year marks the 7th annual DCJazzPrix, an international band competition that draws some of the greatest talent from around the globe.

What makes this competition unique is that it focuses on band cohesion and natural interplay rather than individual talent. It thrusts contestants in front of major jazz industry professionals, granting the winner a grand prize of $15,000, career development and support, a yearlong association with the DC Jazz Festival, and a performance slot on the 18th annual festival.

“DCJazzPrix is unique in that it aims to identify and showcase emerging and exceptional jazz band talent from an international perspective,” says Sunny Sumter, Executive Director of DCJF. She adds that the competition “is designed to help launch and further promote the careers of emerging jazz ensembles who are committed to sustained and creative band development and performance opportunities.”

The Pulse featuring Elijah Jamal Balbed and the 2021 DCJazzPrix Finalits

On this episode of The Pulse, I chatted with the winner of the 2020 DCJazzPrix, Elijah Jamal Balbed, as well as the 2021 finalists: Giveton Gelin, Camilla George and Dayramir Gonzalez.

The competition will take place during the last day of the 17th annual DC Jazz Festival: 2 p.m. this Sunday, Sept. 5 at Union Stage.

Keanna Faircloth is a Washington, DC native and comes to WBGO getting her start on-air at WPFW 89.3 FM in 2003, most recently as the host of Late Night Jazz: The Continuum Experience. She is a graduate of Howard University having majored in Music History with a minor in Classical Piano. Keanna has written for NPR Music, and worked for Radio One as an on-air personality, producer and voice-over talent. She is also the creator and host of Artimacy Podcast, where she has interviewed artists like Wynton Marsalis, Matthew Whitaker, Jonathan Butler, and Dionne Warwick. As a result, she was recognized by Radio Ink Magazine as a 2019 African American leader in radio.