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Quick licks: 2019 Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz finalists

In December, the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz named the winners of its International Guitar Competition. From the 12 semifinalists, the three finalists were Evgeny Pobozhiy of Russia (first prize), Max Light of Maryland (second prize) and Cecil Alexander of Michigan (third prize.)

Photo of finalists

We thought these winners would make nice subjects for our “Quick licks” transcription series. In addition to transcribing some of their playing, we followed up with them to find out what’s on the horizon for their individual careers.

First place: Evgeny Pobozhiy

This snippet comes from the beginning of Evgeny’s solo on his original tune “Calumet.” He’s currently in writing mode for an upcoming album to be released with Concord Records.

Second place: Max Light

This recording of Max is from his entry in the semifinals. We love the playful half-step intervals that ring into each other — it makes you think of Monk. Max is releasing a self-titled trio album on February 14 through Red Piano Records. And if you’re in NYC, you can see him play on February 14 and 15 at the Jazz Gallery with John Ellis and Gretchen Parlato.

Third place: Cecil Alexander

Here’s bop master Cecil Alexander working on some unaccompanied lines over “My Shining Hour.” Since the competition, Cecil’s been recording his debut album to be released this fall, as well as a record with a band led by him and his wife, Visen. This summer, Cecil is launching his own guitar academy through his website.

Congratulations to the winners!


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