American Jazz Museum Supports Local Jazz Community Through Honoring KC’s Greatest Musician

For Immediate Release 

April 10, 2020

Marissa Baum


Kansas City, MO The American Jazz Museum and The Blue Room may be temporarily closed in effort to comply with the City’s “Stay at Home” Order, but the Museum has designed a contest to support local artists and pay homage to one of the world’s greatest musicians (and Kansas City native), Charlie Parker.

Rashida Phillips, Executive Director of the American Jazz Museum looks to the light that art and music can bring during difficult times:

"At a time when we need music for inspiration and salve, Charlie Parker reminds us of healing and vitality from his horn, and we are delighted to celebrate him and our own musicians by presenting the AJM Charlie Parker Song Contest winners. Thank you to these wonderful musicians for sharing their talent in honoring the legacy of Parker, and thank you to our wider musician community for keeping us whole."

World-class judges for the competition included Bobby Watson, Pamela Baskin-Watson, Charles D. Williams, Clarence Smith, and Stan Kessler. Recently retired from academia (after a 20 year tenure as the Director of Jazz Studies at University of Missouri, Kansas City) Bobby Watson draws attention to plethora of local talent:


"Kansas City has so many world- class artists who reside here, that it’s great to be able to provide an opportunity during these difficult times, for them to be able to exercise and showcase their creative gifts by way of the Charlie Parker Song Contest. I want to thank the American Jazz Museum and the Metheny Foundation for their financial support that allowed the judges to choose three winners in both categories. It is our hope that this can become an annual event.

Artists submitted an entry to one of two categories: Original Bebop composition or arrangement of a Charlie Parker song. Winners in the original composition category are: Roger Wilder (first), Max Levy (second), and Sean Murdy (third). Winners in the arrangement of a Charlie Parker song category are: Andrew Ouellette (first), Paul Roberts (second), and Matt Villinger (third). Videos of the winning entries (and honorable mentions) are available on The Blue Room at the American Jazz Museum’s Facebook page: and upon request.


Roger Wilder, First Place, Original Bebop Composition


Andrew Ouellette, First Place, Arrangement of a Charlie Parker Song

Thanks to generous support from The Metheny Foundation, stipends for the top three winners in each category were made available. Based in the hometown of Grammy-winning guitarist Pat Metheny and his brother, trumpeter Mike Metheny, the Metheny Music Foundation of Lee's Summit, MO preserves, promotes and perpetuates an informed appreciation for all styles of music.
As Kansas City remains under a “Stay at Home” Order, The American Jazz Museum will continue to work towards creating new opportunities that support the artist economy and invest in the creativity and talent of Kansas City’s local musicians.


About the American Jazz Museum
The mission of the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City is to celebrate and exhibit the experience of jazz as an original American art form through performance, exhibition, education, and research at one of the country’s jazz crossroads – 18th & Vine. As the only museum in the world solely focused on the preservation, exhibition and advancement of jazz music, the American Jazz Museum is dedicated to public service and collaborative efforts to expand the influence, awareness and appreciation of jazz among the widest demographic of people across the Kansas City region, as well as among those based in various locations worldwide. For a complete list of upcoming programs and performances, visit