Seven Living Legends Of American Music Are Named As New National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters
October 6, 2006 at 9:00 PM EDT
Standing before an audience of jazz fans at Washington's Lincoln Theater, National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Dana Gioia tonight revealed the names of the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters, Class of 2007.
Chairman Gioia made the announcement at a concert of the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival featuring two previously named NEA Jazz Masters, Paquito D'Rivera (Class of 2005) and Roy Haynes (Class of 1995). This announcement of the Class of 2007, delivered as part of the first concert of the Washington Performing Arts Society's season, marked the 25th anniversary of the NEA Jazz Masters program.
Each year since 1982, the Arts Endowment has conferred the NEA Jazz Masters Award on a handful of living legends who have made major contributions to this distinctively American art form. Recognized as the nation's highest honor in the art of jazz, the award to date has been given to 87 great figures in American music. With Chairman Gioia's announcement, another seven may now call themselves NEA Jazz Masters.
The seven new NEA Jazz Masters are Toshiko Akiyoshi (bandleader), Curtis Fuller (solo instrumentalist, trombone), Ramsey Lewis (pianist), Jimmy Scott (vocalist), Frank Wess (solo instrumentalist, flute), and Phil Woods (composer-arranger). In addition, the A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Award for Jazz Advocacy is being given to Dan Morgenstern.
"The jazz world has come to regard the NEA Jazz Masters Award as its equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize," Chairman Gioia stated. "We are immensely proud that the Arts Endowment can not only honor these American artists but also help them to forge new connections with the public, thanks to the outreach and education programs of the NEA Jazz Masters program."
Each member of the NEA Jazz Masters Class of 2007 has made a distinctive, lifelong contribution to jazz. Bandleader Toshiko Akiyoshi helped re-make the big-band tradition for contemporary audiences, with a vibrant new sound and new international influences. Trombonist Curtis Fuller, an omnipresent mainstay of the hard-bop era, continues to flourish today in varied settings as a performer and teacher. Pianist Ramsey Lewis spans the influences of gospel music, classical music, and mainstream jazz; while Jimmy Scott has brought his deeply affecting voice and style to everything from ballads to rhythm 'n' blues.
Multi-instrumentalist Frank Wess is being honored as one of the most influential and innovative flutists in jazz history. Master alto saxophonist Phil Woods has been named an NEA Jazz Master in the composer-arranger category, in recognition of his contributions to the modern jazz repertoire. As for Dan Morgenstern, director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University, he has devoted himself to jazz advocacy as an historian, archivist, author, editor, and educator.
Profiles of the 2007 NEA Jazz Masters are available on the web site.
The seven new NEA Jazz Masters will officially receive their awards at a ceremony and concert held in New York City on January 12, 2007, as a highlight of the annual conference of the International Association for Jazz Education.
About NEA Jazz Masters: From 1982 through 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has designated 87 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. The initiative encompasses the award program itself; NEA Jazz Masters On Tour, sponsored by Verizon, 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 generously supported by the Verizon Foundation; and radio and TV broadcast projects featuring NEA Jazz Masters. The Arts Endowment also collaborated with the Verve Music Group on CD and digital compilations and 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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