Today, the National Endowment for the Arts announced the 2014 NEA Jazz Masters, all unique in their approaches to jazz. Whether it's Richard Davis and Keith Jarrett bringing their jazz background into other musical genres such as classical music and rock and roll, Anthony Braxton's avant-garde creations which defy categorization, or Jamey Aebersold's development of an interactive jazz education tool that can be used anywhere, these artists all show how the art form is evolving and growing in our country. These musicians and educators, now awarded the nation's highest honor in the field, are recognized for their lifetime achievements and exceptional contributions to the advancement of jazz. They will each receive a one-time award of $25,000.NEA Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa said, "On behalf of the National Endowment for the Arts, I am proud to announce the newest class of NEA Jazz Masters. The NEA is committed to supporting this uniquely American art form, whether it's through educational materials such as NEA Jazz in the Schools, supporting performance and educational activities by the Jazz Masters through Jazz Masters Live, or in this case, honoring the individuals who have devoted their lives and careers to mastering, sharing, and expanding this music."
2014 NEA Jazz Masters
- Educator, Saxophonist, Pianist, Bassist, Banjo player
- Born in and currently resides in New Albany, Indiana
Jamey Aebersold is the recipient of the 2014 A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Award for Jazz Advocacy, which is bestowed upon an individual who has contributed significantly to the appreciation, knowledge, and advancement of the art form of jazz.
"Jamey Aebersold has made enormous contributions to the jazz world through his tireless efforts as a performer, educator, and publisher," said 2000 NEA Jazz Master David Baker who is also on the faculty of the Summer Jazz Workshops, directed by Aebersold. "As the creator of the innovative and groundbreaking Jamey Aebersold Jazz Play-A-Long recordings series, as the longtime director of the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops, as an exceptional clinician and performer, and as the publisher of an extensive catalogue of jazz materials, Jamey has revolutionized the way people practice, teach, create, and perform their music. Jamey has carried his message that 'anyone can improvise' and that 'creativity is part of the nature of every person' throughout the world to great success, impacting generations of both aspiring and established jazz performers and teachers."
- Composer, Saxophonist, Clarinetist, Flutist, Pianist, Educator
- Born in Chicago, Illinois. Currently resides in Middletown, Connecticut
Anthony Braxton's compositions almost defy categorization through his use of the improvised and rhythmic nature of jazz but moving it in a more avant-garde direction, such as in his Ghost Trance Music compositions. Jason Moran, jazz pianist, composer, and artistic advisor for jazz at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, noted, "Anthony Braxton's expansive catalog has always been an inspiration. [He is] a beautiful artist in every sense of the word: performer, composer, educator, co-conspirator. Braxton is a supreme improviser and composer who searches with sounds."
- Bassist, Educator
- Born in Chicago, Illinois. Currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin
One of the premier jazz bassists in history, Richard Davis is widely recorded, not only in jazz settings but also in the pop, rock, and classical genres. Bassist and composer Linda Oh commented, "Richard Davis, with his wide palette of skill sets, has been an inspiration for me and many bassists. To me, he shows strength and versatility within his musicianship—a versatility that seems to not compromise integrity and individuality, something many bassists can only dream to achieve." In addition to his prowess on bass, Davis is a noted educator, having been a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 1977.
- Pianist, Composer
- Born in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Currently resides in Oxford, New Jersey
Keith Jarrett's talent for playing both abstractly and lyrically, sometimes during the same musical work, continues to astound and delight audiences around the world. His ability to work in both the jazz and classical fields as performer and composer demonstrate the breadth of his creativity. 2012 NEA Jazz Master Charlie Haden, who has performed and recorded alongside Jarrett, commented, “Along with Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett is perhaps the most influential pianist in the history of improvised music because of his mastery of the instrument, his creativity and deep harmonic knowledge. His playing transcends category.”
Awards Ceremony and Concert The NEA will again partner with Jazz at Lincoln Center to produce an awards ceremony and concert in honor of the 2014 NEA Jazz Masters, that will be webcast live on Monday, Monday, January 13, 2014 on arts.gov and jalc.org/live. More information about the awards ceremony and concert will be released in December.
Nominations for the 2015 NEA Jazz Masters The NEA is currently accepting nominations for the 2015 class of NEA Jazz Masters. The deadline is October 1, 2013. Fellowships are awarded to living individuals on the basis of nominations from the public including the music community. Nominees must demonstrate a significant contribution to the art form through their publicly recognized and accessible body of work in the field of jazz. Visit the NEA's website for more information and to submit a nomination.
About NEA Jazz Masters Each year since 1982, the Arts Endowment has conferred the NEA Jazz Masters Award to living legends who have made major contributions to jazz. With this new class, 132 awards have been given to great figures of jazz in America, including Count Basie, George Benson, Art Blakey, Dave Brubeck, Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Herbie Hancock, John Levy, Abbey Lincoln, Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, Cecil Taylor, Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson, and the Marsalis Family.
NEA Jazz Masters are selected from nominations submitted by the public and receive a one-time fellowship award of $25,000, are honored at a public awards ceremony, and may participate in NEA-sponsored promotional, performance, and educational activities. Only living musicians or jazz advocates may be nominated for the NEA Jazz Masters honor. For the 2014 NEA Jazz Masters, the panel considered 144 nominations.
In addition to NEA Jazz in the Schools, a partnership with Jazz at Lincoln Center, the NEA's jazz programs include NEA Jazz Masters Live, a series of performance and educational engagements in selected communities, featuring NEA Jazz Masters; radio programming featuring NEA Jazz Masters; and publications and reports. For more information on the NEA Jazz Masters, visit arts.gov.
About the National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector.
About Jazz at Lincoln Center
The mission of Jazz at Lincoln Center is to entertain, enrich and expand a global community for Jazz through performance, education and advocacy.
With the world-renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and guest artists spanning genres and generations, Jazz at Lincoln Center produces thousands of performance, education, and broadcast events each season in its home in New York City (Frederick P. Rose Hall, “The House of Swing”) and around the world, for people of all ages. Jazz at Lincoln Center is led by Chairman Robert J. Appel, Managing and Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis, and Executive Director Greg Scholl.