Arts + Culture

Herbie Hancock to be new namesake for Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA

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Hancock Institute 2020 class
Reed Hutchinson/UCLA

Students in what will be the 2020 graduating class of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA.

The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA will be known as the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA effective Jan. 1, 2019. The change is in line with a decision by the Washington, D.C.-based Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz to change its name to the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, following a request by the Monk Estate regarding the continued use of Thelonious Monk’s name.

Hancock, along with fellow jazz legends Herb Alpert and Wayne Shorter, was instrumental in establishing the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA in 2011.

“I am so happy that the transition from the Monk Institute will be in the hands of one of the most respected musicians I know,” Alpert said. “Herbie Hancock is in a class by himself as one of the most gifted jazz artists in the world today. How lucky we are to have the Herbie Hancock Institute at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.”

In partnership with the school’s department of music, the institute will continue to provide full two-year scholarships for six to eight international musicians to participate in a prestigious master’s degree program. The program’s small size gives the graduate students significant opportunities to develop their own artistic voices under renowned jazz musicians, composers and educators; to perform together around the world; and to work across genres with fellow musicians throughout the school.

Chip Latshaw
Herbie Hancock with students in 2014.

Students in the program also share what they learn, including through private music lessons for Los Angeles schoolchildren, as part of a formal outreach initiative.

“I am excited to continue my work as a teacher and mentor to the incredible young musicians who attend this unique program,” said Hancock, a UCLA professor since 2013. “It is my pleasure to guide them, encourage their creative thinking and see them become important contributors to the global jazz community.”

A 14-time Grammy Award winner and an internationally renowned pianist and composer, 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 modern jazz improvisation and one of the most influential voices on the piano in the history of jazz. His recordings in the ’70s combined electric jazz with funk and rock, influencing decades of music. His 1983 hit song “Rockit” established Hancock as an innovator in electronic music and inspired a generation of hip-hop artists. 

“It is wonderful that the institute chose to name the organization and its UCLA-affiliated program to honor Herbie Hancock,” said Judith Smith, dean of the school of music, which houses the jazz performance institute. “Herbie is a longtime supporter of jazz at UCLA, and he has a history of nurturing and launching the careers of emerging jazz artists. I look forward to working with him to expand opportunities for our students.”

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