Kansas City earns another cultural feather in our collective hat this weekend when a young jazz musician gets elevated to a national stage.
Hermon Mehari, a trumpeter and highly creative composer and arranger of musical crossover projects, is a semifinalist in the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Trumpet Competition in Los Angeles. Mehari on Saturday goes up against a dozen other musicians in front of a judging panel of top jazz players at Schoenberg Hall at UCLA. Three finalists move on to a runoff on Sunday, which is followed by a gala concert at the Dolby Theatre. The concert is one of those star-studded affairs featuring appearances by the likes of Herbie Hancock, Pharrell Williams and former President Bill Clinton.
Mehari is a product of the jazz program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance. He has honed his chops in travels to Europe, and he is well-known around jazz circles in Kansas City, where he plays in various groups, including his long time band Diverse.
His fellow competitors this weekend are truly international, as players hail from Venezuela and Japan along with all across the U.S.
First place winner receives a $25,000 scholarship and a guaranteed recording contract with the Concord label. And all participants have the opportunities to present their talent before numerous luminaries in the music world.
A tip of the cap to a deserving horn player, who’s carrying the best wishes of Kansas City along with his horn.