National Endowment for the Arts Expands the
NEA Jazz Masters Program
Chairman Dana Gioia Reveals Names of the 2004 Winners and
Announces New Award Categories, Tour, Broadcast and CD Release
November 19, 2003
Victoria Hutter (NEA)
The Kreisberg Group, Ltd.
New York, NY - Dana Gioia, Chairman of the National Endowment for
the Arts, today announced a major expansion of the NEA Jazz Masters program,
intended to help forge new connections between the American people and one of
their greatest artistic traditions.
Established in 1982, the NEA Jazz Masters program each year elevates a select
number of living figures to its ranks, conferring on them the nation's highest
honor for this uniquely American art form. At a joyous ceremony held today at
New York City's La Guardia High School for Music and Art and the Performing
Arts, Chairman Gioia revealed the names of the 2004 winners and outlined the
Endowment's plan to increase public appreciation for jazz through a new touring
program, broadcast, compact disc release, and expanded NEA Jazz Master award
NEA Jazz Master and jazz ambassador extraordinaire Billy Taylor performs with his trio. Photo by Steven Swerling
The title of NEA Jazz Master will now be conferred in as many as five musical
categories: solo instrumentalist, rhythm instrumentalist, pianist,
arranger-composer, and vocalist. In addition, a sixth NEA Jazz Master award may
now be given to a jazz advocate who has made major contributions to the field.
Chairman Gioia announced that the six 2004 NEA Jazz Masters are guitarist Jim
Hall, drummer Chico Hamilton, pianist Herbie Hancock, arranger-composer Luther
Henderson (1919-2003), singer Nancy Wilson, and music critic Nat Hentoff. This
is the first time a jazz critic has been honored.
The winners will be honored at a gala awards ceremony and concert, to be held in
New York City on January 23, 2004, and televised nationwide. Each new NEA Jazz
Master will receive a one-time fellowship award of $25,000.
"This year's new NEA Jazz Masters reflect the great variety and vitality of the
field," Chairman Gioia stated. "We have enormously expanded our jazz program
for two reasons. First, we want to honor this great American art form. Second,
we want to bring jazz to new audiences across the country."
Chairman Gioia announces the recipients of the 2004 NEA Jazz Master Award. Photo by Steven Swerling
The Endowment is collaborating with the Verve Music Group on a commemorative
two-CD set of recordings, to be released by Verve Records on January 13, 2004.
The deluxe-package set will contain two and a half hours of music by 28 NEA Jazz
Masters, including Count Basie, Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, Roy Eldridge, Ella
Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Anita O'Day, Sonny Rollins, Sarah Vaughan and Nancy
Wilson, and will include liner notes by 2004 NEA Jazz Master Nat Hentoff.
The new touring component of the NEA Jazz Masters program is intended to bring
NEA Jazz Masters to all 50 states. The Endowment has already secured the
co-operation of venues in more than a dozen states and the District of Columbia:
American Jazz Museum, Kansas City, MO; Artists Collective, Inc., Hartford, CT;
Cityfolk, Dayton, OH; Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA; Cuyahoga
Community College Foundation (Tri-C JazzFest), Cleveland, OH; Earshot Jazz
Society of Seattle, Seattle, WA; Flynn Center for the Performing Arts,
Burlington, VT; Manchester Craftsmen's Guild, Pittsburgh, PA; Miami-Dade
College, Miami, FL; National Black Arts Festival, Atlanta, GA; Newark Public
Radio, Inc./WBGO-FM, Newark, NJ; New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Society, New
Orleans, LA; Outpost Productions, Inc., Albuquerque, NM; SFJAZZ, San Francisco, CA; Thelonious Monk
Institute of Jazz, Washington, DC; and University Musical Society, Ann Arbor,
The LaGuardia High School Jazz Band gives a rousing finale to the press conference. Photo by Steven Swerling
To help the NEA Jazz Masters make further connections with the American people,
the Endowment is producing hour-long audio profiles of the six 2004 NEA Jazz
Masters for radio distribution. Each profile mixes musical performances with
interviews conducted with a variety of subjects, to give a sound portrait of the
Jazz Master's life and achievements.
To honor this year's winners, all of the living NEA Jazz Masters have been
invited to attend this year's gala ceremony and concert on January 23, 2004.
Among the notable invitees are Dave Brubeck, Ron Carter, Ornette Coleman,
Roy Haynes, Jimmy Heath, Percy Heath, Elvin Jones, Hank Jones, Abbey
Lincoln, Jackie McLean, Marian McPartland, Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, Wayne
Shorter, Dr. Billy Taylor, Cecil Taylor, Clark Terry, and McCoy Tyner. The
ceremony is held at the annual conference of the International Association for
Jazz Education (IAJE).
On behalf of the Board of Directors of IAJE, President David N. Baker welcomed
the news of the expansion of the NEA Jazz Masters program. Baker, who is
himself an NEA Jazz Master (named in 2000), stated, "The vision of the Chairman
of the Endowment and its leadership in this new enhancement initiative is truly
brilliant and I believe will impact the jazz field in a major way. The decision
to place the NEA Jazz Masters award on a par with the Pulitzer Prize as the
highest award our nation can bestow in the jazz field is a courageous act and an
NEA Jazz Masters are chosen through nominations submitted by the American
public. Nominations are reviewed by a distinguished panel of jazz experts, who
make their recommendations to the National Council on the Arts and the Chairman
of the National Endowment for the Arts for final approval. Only living figures
may be chosen. (Luther Henderson, one of the 2004 NEA Jazz Masters, was elected
to the program shortly before his death.) To date, 73 legends of American music
have been elevated to the status of NEA Jazz Master.
The 2004 NEA Jazz Masters are:
Solo Instrumentalist (Guitar): Jim Hall
Known for the warmth, expressiveness, and responsiveness of his music, guitarist
Jim Hall turned professional at age 13, playing with an ensemble in Cleveland.
After graduating from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he majored in
theory, and beginning his work on a master's degree, he left graduate school to
pursue his dream of a career as a guitarist. He went to Los Angeles, where in
1955 he immediately attracted attention as a member of the original Chico
Hamilton Quintet. In 1957, he joined saxophonist Jimmy Giuffre's new trio, in
an innovative line-up that had Bob Brookmeyer as the third member, on trombone.
By 1960, Jim Hall was in New York City, playing regularly with musicians
including Sonny Rollins, Art Farmer, Bill Evans, and Paul Desmond. Still
prolifically active, he has released nine new CDs over the past decade and has
won critical acclaim as a composer-arranger for his recent pieces for strings,
brass and vocal ensemble. He continues to inspire younger musicians such as Pat
Metheny, Bill Frisell, Greg Osby and Chris Potter.
Rhythm Instrumentalist: Chico Hamilton
Born in Los Angeles in 1921, where as a teenager he played with schoolmates
including Charles Mingus, Buddy Collette, and Dexter Gordon, Foreststorn "Chico"
Hamilton began his professional career as a teenaged sideman with Lionel
Hampton, Duke Ellington, Slim Gaillard, Ella Fitzgerald, Lester Young and Lena
Horne. As the house drummer at Billy Berg's Los Angeles night club, he became a
mainstay of the burgeoning West Coast jazz scene. He first received national
recognition in 1952 as the drummer with Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker's
"pianoless" quartet. Then, in 1955, Hamilton stepped out as a bandleader,
forming the Chico Hamilton Quintet. A pioneer for its chamber-jazz style - the
instruments were drums, bass, cello, flute, and guitar - the Quintet became a hit
on recordings and was featured in the 1957 film Sweet Smell of Success.
Hamilton's ensembles have launched the careers of many artists, including Eric
Dolphy, Ron Carter, Charles Lloyd, Gabor Szabo, Larry Coryell, Richard Davis,
Arthur Blythe, and Eric Person, testifying to Hamilton's talent as one of the
great bandleader-educators in jazz. In 1987, he helped found the jazz program
at New York City's New School University.
Pianist: Herbie Hancock
Born in Chicago in 1940, pianist and composer Herbie Hancock performed as a
soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at age 11 and began playing jazz in
high school. At age 20, he joined Donald Byrd's group and came to the attention
of Alfred Lion of Blue Note Records, who hired him as a session player.
Hancock's debut album as a leader, Takin' Off (1963), included "Watermelon Man,"
which became an instant hit as a single on jazz and R&B radio. Also in 1963,
Hancock was invited to join the Miles Davis Quintet. The classic recordings he
made with that ensemble over the next five years were enough in themselves to
secure his place in jazz history. His work for film and television began in
1966, when he composed the score for Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up. Moving
full-time into the electronic jazz-funk he had begun to explore with Miles
Davis, Hancock released Headhunters in 1973, the first platinum album in jazz
history, which produced the hit single "Chameleon." Since then, his continuing
explorations of both acoustic jazz and electronic funk have won Hancock popular
claim and critical accolades, including three Grammy Awards for his 1998
recording Gershwin's World.
Arranger-Composer: Luther Henderson (1919-2003)
Educated at the College of the City of New York, The Juilliard School and New
York University, Luther Henderson was for five decades the jazz world's great
ambassador to the Broadway stage. Arranger for Duke Ellington (most notably for
the composition Les Trois Rois Noirs, created for Dance Theatre of Harlem),
leader of the Luther Henderson Orchestra (with which he recorded six albums),
and composer for film and television, Henderson achieved his greatest success on
the stage, through his involvement with more than two dozen Broadway
productions, beginning in 1946 with Beggar's Holiday. He was the musical
supervisor, orchestrator and original pianist for Ain't Misbehavin'; musical
consultant and arranger for Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music; orchestrator and
co-composer for Jelly's Last Jam (for which he was nominated for a Tony Award
for Best Score); and brought his talents as an arranger and orchestrator to
celebrated shows including Flower Drum Song, Funny Girl, and the revival of No,
No, Nanette. His composition "Ten Good Years" (with lyricist Martin Charnin)
was recorded by 2003 NEA Jazz Master Nancy Wilson.
Vocalist: Nancy Wilson
Singer Nancy Wilson began her career at age 15, winning her own twice-a-week
television show in Columbus, Ohio, through a talent contest and singing in local
clubs, where she impressed visiting musicians such as Cannonball Adderley. An
early single, the 1961 "Guess Who I Saw Today," and a 1962 album with Adderley
propelled her to national prominence. She attained stardom with a pair of 1963
albums, Broadway My Way and Hollywood My Way. After many guest appearances on
television, she became host of her own network program, The Nancy Wilson Show,
for which she won an Emmy award for the 1967-68 season. In more recent years,
she has recorded an album of lyrics by Johnny Mercer (With My Love Beside Me),
which were set to music for the first time by singer-arranger Barry Manilow, and
has served as the host of the National Public Radio program Jazz Profiles.
Still active in the recording studio, she released The Essence of Nancy Wilson:
Four Decades of Music and Ramsey Lewis and Nancy Wilson: Meant To Be in 2002.
Jazz Advocate: Nat Hentoff
No writer has been a greater friend to jazz than critic, historian, biographer
and anecdotist Nat Hentoff. Educated at Northeastern University and Harvard in
his native Boston, where he became involved in the local jazz scene and hosted a
radio show on WMEX, and at the Sorbonne on a Fulbright fellowship, Hentoff began
his distinguished career in journalism as associate editor of Down Beat magazine
(1953-57). He went on to become co-editor of Jazz Review from 1958 to 1961 and
was then A&R director of the Candid label in 1960 to 1961, during which time he
produced important sessions by musicians Charles Mingus, Phil Woods, Benny
Bailey, Otis Spann, Cecil Taylor, Abbey Lincoln and other jazz giants. Among
his many books, which address subjects as diverse as education and
constitutional law, are The Jazz Life, The Jazz Makers, Hear Me Talkin' to Ya,
Listen to the Stories: Nat Hentoff on Jazz and Country Music and Jazz. He
continues to write on jazz and other subjects for publications including The
Village Voice, JazzTimes, The New York Times, The New Yorker (for which he was a
staff writer for many years) and The Wall Street Journal.
High resolution photos suitable for print publication are available on the web site.
For more information on the NEA Jazz Masters, please see our Lifetime Honors section.
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