National Endowment for the Arts Announces 50-State Tour of NEA Jazz Masters, Living Legends of American Music
NEA Jazz Master Herbie Hancock Performs Live at Wizards-Nets Basketball Game on March 31, the Eve of National Jazz Appreciation Month
March 30, 2004
Washington, D.C. - Half-time at the March 31 Wizards-Nets basketball game will come alive with the sounds of NEA Jazz Master Herbie Hancock, as the National Endowment for the Arts launches its NEA Jazz Masters On Tour program. The March 31 performance, with students of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, will take place at approximately 8:00 p.m. at the MCI Center in Washington, as the Arts Endowment marks the beginning of National Jazz Appreciation Month with its announcement of the tour.
Over the next two years, the NEA Jazz Masters, winners of the nation's highest honor in this uniquely American art form, will fan across the country, bringing their music to all 50 states with the Arts Endowment's support. Among the celebrated artists who have received NEA Jazz Master status are Ornette Coleman, Jim Hall, Abbey Lincoln, Nancy Wilson, Jimmy and Percy Heath, Dave Brubeck and Chico Hamilton. At the March 31 half-time show, NEA Chairman Dana Gioia will acknowledge private support for this program from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, which has generously committed $480,000 over a three-year period to help fund the first phase of NEA Jazz Masters On Tour.
The tour is a key component of an expanded NEA Jazz Masters program, as announced in November 2003 by Chairman Gioia. The Arts Endowment will provide funds to not-for-profit presenting organizations for booking NEA Jazz Masters, with educational activities (such as master classes or meet-the-artist sessions) included in each engagement. Established in 1982, the program has elevated 73 living legends of American music to the status of NEA Jazz Master.
"In a culture overwhelmed by innumerable forms of popular entertainment, we must not allow an art as important as jazz to become lost in the clutter," stated Chairman Gioia. "Our new touring program will help bring the wealth of jazz talent and experience of our NEA Jazz Masters to audiences and students across the country."
"Doris Duke was an active supporter of jazz during her lifetime and an avid pianist. Her love of this art form has led the Foundation to invest more than $22 million in the jazz field over the past six years," said Olga M. Garay, Program Director for the Arts of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. "Through our JazzNet program, we have been collaborating with the Arts Endowment to expand performing opportunities for jazz musicians and listening opportunities for audiences. What better way could there be to continue our investment, than to help bring the NEA Jazz Masters to people across America?"
Early dates on the tour have already given audiences on both the West and East Coasts new opportunities to appreciate the NEA Jazz Masters' distinctive contributions to American music. On March 17, citizens of Hartford, Connecticut, got caught up in the intricate, African-influenced rhythms of pianist Randy Weston, presented by Artists Collective; and on March 20, people in San Francisco plunged into the free, "harmolodic" jazz of alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman, under the auspices of SF Jazz.
Jazz Masters On Tour continues in April (National Jazz Appreciation Month) with saxophonist Wayne Shorter appearing at the Masonic Auditorium in San Francisco under the auspices of SF Jazz, and in May with concerts for Ron Carter and Jay McShann at the Gem Theater in Kansas City, MO, presented by the American Jazz Museum.
Sixteen presenters have been confirmed for the first phase of the tour. Applications materials for remaining engagements will be available on the NEA web site beginning early August.
Other organizations scheduled to present NEA Jazz Masters during the initial months of the tour include:
Please see more details on the NEA Jazz Masters Tour on our web site.
About the NEA Jazz Masters Program
Each year, on the basis of nominations submitted by the American public, the National Endowment for the Arts names a select number of living legends to be NEA Jazz Masters in recognition of their exceptional contributions to the advancement of jazz. Newly named NEA Jazz Masters are honored at an awards ceremony and concert and are provided with a one-time fellowship of $25,000. NEA Jazz Masters may be named in six categories: solo instrumentalist, rhythm instrumentalist, pianist, arranger-composer, vocalist, and jazz advocate.
To help the NEA Jazz Masters make further connections with the American people, the Arts Endowment has collaborated with the Verve Music Group on a commemorative two-CD set of recordings, released in January 2004, featuring two and a half hours of music. Among the 27 artists represented are Count Basie, Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, Roy Eldridge, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Anita O'Day, Sonny Rollins, Sarah Vaughan and Nancy Wilson. Liner notes are by 2004 NEA Jazz Master Nat Hentoff. The Arts Endowment has also collaborated with Verve and Apple Computers' iTunes Music Store to create special edition, digital-only compilations of the music of Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins and Sarah Vaughan for exclusive on-line release.
Other outreach initiatives are the production of audio profiles of the 2004 NEA Jazz Masters, for radio distribution, and broadcasts of the 2004 awards ceremony on BET Jazz Brunch (at 1:00 p.m. EST on April 4) and BET Jazz (April 4, 11, 20, and 25). The Endowment also has produced an illustrated publication with profiles of all the NEA Jazz Masters, 1982-2004, introduced by A.B. Spellman, author of Four Jazz Lives and Deputy Chairman for Guidelines and Panel Operations, National Endowment for the Arts.
The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, established in 1996, works to improve the quality of people's lives through grants supporting the performing arts, wildlife conservation, medical research and the prevention of child maltreatment, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke's properties.
Jazz Appreciation Month
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency