Joshua White, a jazz piano phenom from El Cajon, played in the Thelonious Monk International Competition in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, and won second place, the Union-Tribune’s George Varga has been reporting this week.

And, Varga noted, White got a wee-hours text message yesterday, inviting him to meet the country’s jazz-appreciator-in-chief, President Obama.

It’s not all hometown hype.

New York Times critic Ben Ratliff called White one of the contest’s “most memorable musicians.” He raved about White’s performance:

Mr. White used a lot of dissonance and clutter, but it was provocative, chord-related clutter, not the brilliant-soloist kind made mostly with the right hand. It was a sound worth returning to, one that had more to do with Monk than that of the rest of the pianists — although emulating Monk per se is not a competition requirement.

Have you seen White play?

Looks like his next local appearance will be at the annual Bass Summit early next month at Dizzy’s downtown with a jam-packed list of a bunch of the best bassists in town. White will be playing piano that night.

Or you can catch him in a free concert at the Athenaeum in La Jolla at noon on Nov. 7, or at the Lyceum downtown Nov. 14 at noon.

I’m Kelly Bennett, the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach me directly at or 619.325.0531.

And follow Behind the Scene on Facebook.

Kelly Bennett

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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