Talented Brooklynite Pete McGuinness was named “Best of the Best” jazz vocalist at the Jazzmobile Vocal Competition on Monday. Beating out a field of more than 80 registered contestants, McGuinness won the competition with a scat-filled rendition of “Smile” by Charlie Chaplain at Harlem hot spot the Uptown Grand. Jazzmobile Inc., which presents Summerfest , New York ’s oldest continuous summer jazz festival reaching approximately 100,000 annually, is the nation’s oldest nonprofit created just for jazz. Summerfest is made possible by major support from the New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and lead corporate sponsor JPMorgan Chase.
McGuiness bested eight other finalists to win a grand prize of $2,000, the coveted Jazzy Vocal Award and an opportunity to perform at an upcoming Jazzmobile event.
“As a jazz musician and now jazz singer, Pete’s wealth of experience really shines through in his performances,” said Jazzmobile President and CEO Robin Bell-Stevens. “We look forward to presenting him at a Jazzmobile concert.”
The artists were assessed on specific criteria—vocal sound and pitch, lyric phrasing, stage presence and overall musicality in the style of a jazz singer—by a panel of judges that include Jazzmobile founder Dr. Billy Taylor, jazz pianist and educator Barry Harris and jazz singer Queen Esther. Past judges have included T.S. Monk, Grady Tate and Gloria Lynne. The event was emceed by jazz vocalist Cynthia Holiday, who is cofounder and director of the competition. The 2009 Jazzmobile Vocal Competition winner Brianna Thomas performed.
Since 1987 McGuinness been performing in New York . Starting out as a jazz trombonist and composer-arranger, he added singing to his repertoire in the early 1990s. He joined jazz legend Jimmy Heath’s big band as both trombonist and a featured vocalist in 1996. He went on to serve as lead vocalist in The Manhattan Vocal Project vocal group and performed in such groups as the Woody Herman Big Band and the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra. A member of the jazz studies faculty at New Jersey City University and the Poysdorf Jazz Workshop in Poysdorf , Austria , he performs with his own big band, The Peter McGuinness Jazz Orchestra. He continues to perform every Thursday night as the featured vocalist/trombonist at New York City ’s Smoke jazz club with the Smoke Big Band.
Jazzmobile’s Summerfest 2010 continues through August 27. In addition to its Wednesday night Grant’s Tomb and Friday night Jackie Robinson Park concerts at 7 pm, Jazzmobile swings into neighborhoods across New York City throughout the week. For the full schedule, log onto www.jazzmobile.org.
Jazzmobile thanks New York State Governor David A. Paterson and the New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, NYC & Company Foundation, the Honorable Christine Quinn and the New York City Council, and its lead corporate sponsor JPMorgan Chase. Media partners include The Network Journal, Jazz Improv Magazine, Hot House Jazz Magazine, New York Amsterdam News, WBGO-FM – Jazz 88.3 ( Newark ), WKCR 89.9 FM, AM 1600 WWRL and WHCR 90.3 FM.