Seven Jazz Greats Are Named NEA Jazz Masters, The Nation's Highest Honor In This Distinctively American Art Form
September 13, 2005
National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Dana Gioia today announced that seven living legends of American music will join the ranks of the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters.
Initiated in 1982, the NEA Jazz Master title is the nation's highest honor in this distinctively American art form. In addition to the coveted designation, each member of the Class of 2006 will receive a fellowship award of $25,000 and be invited to participate in outreach efforts, including broadcasts and NEA Jazz Masters On Tour.
The NEA Jazz Master Award is part of the NEA Jazz Masters Initiative and is sponsored by Verizon. Through its support of this initiative, Verizon continues its tradition of supporting quality musical entertainment and education across the country.
"Jazz began, developed and flourished in the United States," said Chairman Gioia. "It is a vital part of our nation's history and cultural heritage. I am immensely proud that the NEA Jazz Masters Award honors these artists who have helped expand the possibility of American music. This class of NEA Jazz Masters demonstrates an exciting breadth of styles that speaks to the richness of the jazz tradition."
The 2006 NEA Jazz Masters include two musicians with deep roots in Latin music: the brilliant percussionist Ray Barretto, the most widely recorded conguero in jazz history, and keyboardist Chick Corea, who has dazzled audiences in every idiom from acoustic avant-garde to samba-tinged fusion. Clarinet virtuoso Buddy DeFranco triumphantly spans the swing and bebop eras; blazing trumpeter Freddie Hubbard is one of the defining voices of hard bop; arranger-composer Bob Brookmeyer is the master orchestrator of modern jazz ensembles, small and large; and Tony Bennett, vocalist extraordinaire, infuses a love of jazz into his every phrase.
In addition, the A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Award for Jazz Advocacy, named in honor of the noted jazz critic, historian, and poet who served for many years as a Deputy Chairman of the Arts Endowment, is given this year to John Levy. A talented bassist, Levy in 1951 became the first African-American to work as a personal manager in the music industry - a career that he has now pursued successfully for half a century.
Profiles of the 2006 NEA Jazz Masters are available on the web site.
About NEA Jazz Masters: From 1982 through 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has designated eighty-seven great figures in American music as NEA Jazz Masters, based on nominations submitted by the public. Newly named NEA Jazz Masters are honored at an awards ceremony and concert and are provided with a one-time fellowship of $25,000. Only living musicians or jazz advocates may be honored as NEA Jazz Masters.
To help these musicians make further connections with the American people, the Arts Endowment significantly expanded the program in 2004 and in 2005 established the NEA Jazz Masters Initiative, sponsored by Verizon. The initiative encompasses the award program itself; NEA Jazz Masters On Tour, which is creating performance opportunities in all 50 states for NEA Jazz Masters, coordinated by Arts Midwest and supported in part by Chamber Music America through a generous grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; NEA Jazz in the Schools, developed in partnership with Jazz at Lincoln Center; and radio and TV broadcast projects featuring NEA Jazz Masters, such as the PBS program Legends of Jazz: The Jazz Masters with host Ramsey Lewis and a 14-part series on National Public Radio's Jazz Profiles.
The Arts Endowment also has collaborated with the Verve Music Group on CD and digital compilations and has produced illustrated publications with profiles of all the NEA Jazz Masters.
For more information on NEA Jazz Masters, the public is invited to visit the web site, at www.neajazzmasters.org.
High resolution photos are available for download for media use.
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