Two winners were selected to share the top honors at BMI’s 32nd annual Jazz Composers Workshop held in New York City and featuring the best new big band and jazz orchestra compositions created in the workshop during the 2020-2021 session. Composers Chuck Iwanusa and Tracy Yang shared the prestigious Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize and split the award money.
Composer, arranger and educator Chuck Iwanusa was born in Canton, Ohio and resides in the Greater New York City Metropolitan area. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Theory/Composition from The Ohio State University and completed his Masters of Music Degree at Bowling Green State University in Composition. Chuck began a 37-year career in jazz education that included serving as the Director of Jazz & Theory/Composition at CS Mott Community College (Flint, MI), Associate Dean/Director of The New School Jazz & Contemporary Music Program (New York City), President of the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE), and President of the Jazz Alliance International. Chuck also produced two CD samplers for Jazz Alliance International, “Jazz Hear & Now” and “Smooth Jazz Hear & Now”, which were released nationwide in 2004. These two CDs included 14 Grammy Award winners from the 45th Annual Grammy Awards.
New York-based composer and pianist, Tracy Yang was born and raised in Taiwan. She has earned several composition awards and worked with many different jazz ensembles, including bands such as The Army Jazz Ambassadors, Seattle Women Jazz Orchestra, and Taipei Jazz Orchestra. Additionally, Tracy has been awarded several grants from institutions such as The Queens Council on the Arts, Passim Iguana Music Fund, and Taiwan National Culture and Arts Foundation. After graduating from Berklee College of Music in 2015, Tracy has been leading her band and performed her original music in several renowned venues such as Minton's Playhouse, Bar Lunatico, and Shapeshifter Lab. She later received her Master's Degree from Queens College in Jazz Studies. Aside from her performing and composing duties, Yang is also serving as a dance accompanist in the school program of Mark Morris Dance Group and has performed at Carnegie Hall as an instrumental accompanist. She released her first EP “The 217 Diaries” in early 2021 and is hard at work on her upcoming jazz orchestra album.