It is a springtime rite of passage eagerly awaited by jazz enthusiasts. The 2019 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has announced four greats who will join an esteemed group of jazz giants.
This year’s honoree are:
• Stanley Crouch — jazz historian, author, critic, co-founder of Jazz at Lincoln Center (2019 A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy)
• Bob Dorough — vocalist, composer, arranger, pianist
• Abdullah Ibrahim (also known as Dollar Brand) — pianist, composer
• Maria Schneider — composer, arranger, bandleader
“These four new NEA Jazz Masters have been key players in jazz throughout their lives and careers, ensuring that the music will continue to grow and reach new audiences,” said Mary Anne Carter, NEA acting chairman.
NEA Jazz Masters are living legends who have made major contributions to jazz. Since 1982, 153 fellowships have been awarded by NEA with each recipient receiving a one-time fellowship of $25,000. Past honorees have included Carla Bley, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, Paquito D’Rivera, Ella Fitzgerald, Abbey Lincoln, Pat Metheny, Eddie Palmieri, Sonny Rollins, Cecil Taylor and Nancy Wilson.
This year, Dorough, Ibrahim and Schneider will receive this recognition. Patrick C. Dorian, distinguished professor emeritus of music at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania will represent Dorough, who died in 2018 shortly after being notified of the honor.
In 2004, the NEA inaugurated the A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy, given to an individual whose passion for jazz has been demonstrated through major contributions to the music. Recipients have included critic Nat Hentoff, jazz club owner Lorraine Gordon, musicians’ advocate Wendy Oxenhorn, recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder and producer and pianist George Wein.
Crouch receives the honor this year for the A.B. Spellman Award. Loren Schoenberg¸ senior scholar with the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, will represent Crouch, who is recovering from an illness and will be unable to participate.
A gala tribute Jazz Masters concert is scheduled for 8 p.m. April 15 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, hosted by Jason Moran, pianist and Kennedy Center artistic director for jazz. Starting Thursday, March 7, at 10 a.m., up to four tickets per household may be reserved for this free concert in person at the Kennedy Center box office, at kennedy-center.org, or by calling 202-467-4600 or 800-444-1324.
In addition to the tribute concert, other activities open to the public are scheduled to honor the 2019 Jazz Masters. On Sunday, April 14 a listening party will take place at NPR headquarters. On Tuesday, April 16, Ibrahim will lead a student jazz master class at Howard University.
“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to celebrate jazz, an art form born in the United States that has since been embraced worldwide,” Carter said.
For more information, go to the 2019 NEA Jazz Masters website.