Art Works Blog

Meet the 2016 NEA Jazz Masters

Get to know the 2016 NEA Jazz Masters—Archie Shepp, Gary Burton, Pharoah Sanders, and Wendy Oxenhorn who we will honor at the 2016 NEA Jazz Masters tribute concert this Monday.  Join us in-person or via live webcast on, and Click on the name of each Jazz Master to read their full bio!

Archie Shepp

Archie Shepp playing the trumpet with quote: “Music has always been a balm to my soul.”

Archie Shepp is a jazz saxophonist best known for his Afrocentric music of the late 1960s, a unique style of free-form avant-garde jazz blended with African rhythms, and for his collaborations with John Coltrane, Horace Parlan, Cecil Taylor, and the New York Contemporary Five ensemble. 

Gary Burton

Standing photo of Gary Burton with the quote: “I had the idea to somehow combine rock and jazz.”

Gary Burton is a vibraphonist, bandleader, and educator who is known for his four-mallet technique on the vibraphone, giving the instrument a new musical vocabulary in jazz. 

Pharoah Sanders

Pharoah Sanders sitting and holding a trumpet with the quote: “I never look at the word jazz—I just play.”

Ferrell “Pharoah” Sanders is a Grammy Award-winning jazz saxophonist who has shown a remarkable facility performing in a variety of styles, from free to mainstream, displaying what has been called “hard-edged lyricism.” 

Wendy Oxenhorn

Wendy Oxenhorn looking down and smiling with quote: “You think everything’s over [and instead&#93 it just leads you to what you do next.”

Wendy Oxenhorn is the executive director and vice chairman of the Jazz Foundation of America (JFA) is committed to “providing jazz and blues musicians with financial, medical, housing, and legal assistance as well as performance opportunities, with a special focus on the elderly and veterans who have paid their dues and find themselves in crisis due to illness, age, and/or circumstance.”  

Also mark your calendars for NPR’s Listening Party with the 2016 Jazz Masters, which will take place on April 3, 2016. The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. For more information, click here. An edited audio version of this event will be available at on April 4, 2016 in case you miss it! Finally, be sure to join the conversation on Twitter using #NEAJazz16.

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