Jon Irabagon, an alto saxophonist based in Astoria, Queens, won the 21st annual Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in Los Angeles on Sunday, securing the most prestigious honor available to a young jazz musician.
The panel of judges for the competition, which focuses on a different instrument each year, consisted of heavyweight saxophonists like Jimmy Heath, Wayne Shorter and Jane Ira Bloom. They selected the three winners from a pool of a dozen semifinalists. All three finalists performed alongside the jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater on Sunday night at the Kodak Theater, in a concert that doubled as a salute to the blues legend B.B. King.
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