USC’s first-rate program in jazz studies just got hotter – or cooler, depending on your preferred jazz idiom. This fall, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance took up residence at the USC Thornton School of Music.
One of the most intensive college-level programs in jazz studies, the Monk Institute first opened its doors in 1995 at Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music. The institute’s presence at USC means an all-star cast of artists-in-residence will complement the Thornton School’s permanent jazz faculty. In past years, musicians teaching Monk Institute master classes have included Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, Pat Metheny and Ron Carter. Grammy-nominated songwriter, pianist, producer and bandleader Patrice Rushen ’76 is the institute’s artistic director; Thelonious Monk Jr. is its chairman.
Monk fellows are selected from around the world to participate in the two-year program. These promising jazz artists – who receive full scholarship, room and board and a stipend – get formal music instruction, personal mentoring, ensemble coaching and lectures on the jazz tradition. They also travel widely to perform concerts.
At the Thornton School, they enroll like other USC jazz students, and work toward a certificate diploma or academic degree.
“As these fine young musicians tour worldwide, they’ll be associated not only with Monk but also with USC,” says Thornton School jazz studies chair Shelly Berg. “When they start their solo careers, they’ll always carry that USC connection with them.”
They’ll be in good company. Other USC jazz studies alumni include Herb Alpert, Lionel Hampton, Patrice Rushen, Lee Ritenour, Tom Scott, Billy Childs, Charles Owens, Bruce Eskovitz, Larry Koonse, Tim Emmons, Donald Vega and John Thomas.



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