Kids for Coltrane

NEA JAZZ MASTERS EVENT at JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER

Posted on: February 2, 2010

I had the extreme pleasure of being invited to the NEA Jazz Masters Awards Ceremony and Concert by Joann Stevens who is the program manager for Jazz Appreciation Month at the Smithsonian Institute. The awards ceremony honors the great jazz masters. I was breathing rarefied air! Give yourself a gift and research the lives and music of these outstanding artists, and you will never be the same. I know jazz music and my journey understanding its impact on the United States and the rest of the world certainly brought me enlightenment and enrichment. On this evening in January, I watched as brilliant artists were given respect and praise in the beautiful Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center. The 2010 NEA Jazz Masters are Muhal Richard Abrams, Kenny Barron, Bill Holman, Bobby Hutcherson, Yusef Lateef, Annie Ross, and Cedar Walton. George Avakian received the A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Award for Jazz Advocacy. This event was heard worldwide. Jimmy Heath (2003) and Jimmy Cobb (2009) both past recipients of the award were presenters this year. It was especially thrilling to see them because of their connection to John Coltrane. I would also like to note that another one of my favorite people, writer Nat Hentoff, also received a Jazz Masters Award in 2004. Rocco Landesman, NEA Chairman wrote, “Jazz is the field that probably best exemplifies the fact that art works. Since its creation on American soil some hundred or so years ago, jazz has brought joy to millions of people around the world, created a new lexicon for performing and listening to music and presented a new canon of American songs performed by musicians all over the world over.” Jazz certainly has influenced all genres of music since its inception. Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. said it is triumphant music, and I couldn’t agree more. Congratulations to this year’s recipients for receiving the highest honor in jazz, and a heartfelt thank you to blues and jazz musicians throughout the world.

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