Last week the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) celebrated the accomplishments of its 2014 class of Jazz Masters. The event, held in the Allen Room of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, featured performances of the honorees’ work done by a mix of former Jazz Masters, today’s stars, and up and coming talent. Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Artistic Director and NEA Jazz Master Wynton Marsalis co-hosted the event with CNN correspondent Soledad O’Brien.
Notoriously temperamental yet undeniably virtuosic pianist Keith Jarrett was a recipient of the highest honor awarded to jazz musicians by the NEA along with educator Jamey Aebersold, avant-garde composer/educator/saxophonist Anthony Braxton, and bassist/educator Richard Davis. The awardees also received a $25,000 fellowship. Each man gave an impassioned speech, though different considering their varied perspectives, about their commitments to the creation of music. Though some speeches were longer than others, the commitment to creating for themselves and inspiring creativity in others was the tie that binded.
The event also included a touching tribute performance to those Jazz Masters who passed away in 2013: Pianist Marian McPartland, saxophonist Frank Wess, drummer Chico Hamilton, saxophonist/flutist Yusef Lateef, pianist Cedar Walton, and guitarist Jim Hall.
For additional information on the 2014 event and the voting process, go to http://www.arts.gov.