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The Thelonious Monk International Competition, one of the most prestigious jazz contests in the world, has an uncanny track record of not only picking future stars as its winners (Marcus Roberts, Joshua Redman, Gretchen Parlato), but also as its finalists (Joey DeFrancesco, Jane Monheit, Marcus Strickland). Each year, the competition focuses on a different instrument—this year’s event has two separate competitions: one for bassists and one for composers. The composers don’t compete publicly, though the winning composition will be performed during the bassists’ final round; the bass competition will have two public events, the semifinal (at the Museum of Natural History) and final (at the Kennedy Center). With the contest’s proven eye for talent, seeing either portion gives local jazz fans great odds for walking away with a story that begins, “I was there when he/she got started.”

The Thelonious Monk Bass Competition Semifinal begins at noon on Saturday, Oct. 10, at the Smithsonian Institution’s Baird Auditorium, 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. The Final takes place at 7:30 P.M. on Sunday, Oct. 11, at the Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW. $35–$75. (202)467-4600.