NEA Arts Magazine

7 Jazz Greats are Named NEA Jazz Masters

DeeDee.jpg

Dee Dee Bridgewater belts it out

Dee Dee Bridgewater hits a high note. Photo: Vance Jacobs

The 2005 NEA Jazz Masters were celebrated in style on January 7th. Master of Ceremonies Ramsey Lewis and co-host Nancy Wilson took to the stage of the Terrace Theater in Long Beach, California, to present the awards, NEA Jazz Master Gerald Wilson cut loose with his orchestra, the Geri Allen Trio jammed with NEA Jazz Masters James Moody and Chico Hamilton, and Dee Dee Bridgewater stopped the show with her magnificent presence and powerful voice. The award ceremony was presented as part of the annual conference of the International Association for Jazz Education.

This dazzling array of talent was on hand to honor the seven new NEA Jazz Masters: Kenny Burrell (guitarist), Paquito D'Rivera (clarinetist-saxophonist), Slide Hampton (arranger-composer), Shirley Horn (vocalist), the late Artie Shaw (big band leader), the late Jimmy Smith (organist) and George Wein (jazz advocate). (Sadly, Artie Shaw died just two weeks before he was to accept his award. Jimmy Smith passed away shortly after attending the ceremony.)

Each year since 1982, the Arts Endowment has awarded this title to living artists in recognition of their exceptional contributions to jazz. The title of NEA Jazz Master is the nation's highest honor in jazz. Newly named NEA Jazz Masters are provided with a one-time fellowship of $25,000. "When I was a kid, my father... introduced me to the music of Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Benny Carter, and Teddy Wilson," Paquito D'Rivera said. "Later on, I grew up listening to the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Golson, Max Roach, Ella, Sara, Carmen, Dave Brubeck, the Heath Brothers, Gil Evans, Clark Terry, and Jackie McLean. Now, 50 years after my first public performance, it feels like an incredible dream to share the NEA Jazz Masters distinction with these giants who gave my life meaning."

2005 NEA Jazz Masters George Wein, Slide Hampton, Jimmy Smith, Kenny Burrell, Paquito D’Rivera, and NEA Chairman Dana Gioia

2005 NEA Jazz Masters George Wein, Slide Hampton, Jimmy Smith, Kenny Burrell, Paquito D’Rivera, and NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. Photos: Vance Jacobs