This may come a tad late as news but not too late—I trust—for enjoyment. Last spring, Sullivan Fortner won the Cole Porter Fellow In Jazz award of the American Pianists Association. Fortner is a 28-year-old New Orleanian who attracted favorable notice as the pianist in trumpeter Roy Hargrove’s quintet and for his work with other jazz artists including Christian Scott and Stefon Harris. The award and its $100,000 prize came in competition with four other rising pianists, Christian Sands, Zach Lapidus, Emmet Cohen and Kris Bowers. The judges were pianists Bill Charlap, Billy Childs, Amina Figarova and Edward Simon. Executive Al Pryor of Mack Avenue Records was also on the panel.
Video from the March competition in Indianapolis, Indiana, shows us the skill and adaptability that the judges saw and heard in Fortner’s round of the finals. First, he accompanied singer Dianne Reeves. Then, backed by the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra, he played Thelonious Monk’s “I Mean You.”
At last report, Sullivan Fortner was back on the road, touring with Roy Hargrove.