Ithaca College alumnus, trumpeter and philosophy major Bobby Spellman ’10 beat out 54 anonymous entrants (representing six countries and 15 states) to win the David P. ’60 and Susan W. Wohlhueter Jazz Composition Contest with his Ethiopian-infused, Duke Ellington-inspired entry, “The Kingdom of Aksum.” (Aksum is an ancient kingdom in northern Ethiopia.)
The piece will be performed by the IC Jazz Ensemble with special guest trombonist, Vincent Gardner, on Thursday, May 2, at 8:15 p.m. in Ford Hall, James J. Whalen Center for Music.
“Both Susan and I are thrilled to promote new talent in the realm of jazz,” said David Wohlhueter ’60, the alumnus who established the competition. “This contest is a win-win for both the aspiring writers and the young musicians in the IC jazz ensemble who not only get to play the entries, but actually pick the winner.”
Spellman started playing the trumpet in fourth grade and pursued it semi-professionally in high school before joining the IC Jazz Ensemble in college. He went on to perform and compose for jazz groups in Ithaca, Boston and Brooklyn, and said he saw the contest as another opportunity to navigate new stylistic avenues in jazz.