For 40 years, nearly100 jazz artists and educators have been honored with the title “Jazz Master” — a stellar group of talented men and women chosen by the National Endowment for the Arts [NEA].
This year’s recently announced NEA Jazz Masters Class of 2022 includes; Stanley Clarke, Billy Hart, Cassandra Wilson and Donald Harrison, Jr., recipient of the 2022 A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy.
“Jazz continues to play a significant role in American culture thanks to the dedication and artistry of individuals such as these,” said Ann Eilers, NEA acting chairman. “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to celebrate the 40th anniversary of honoring exceptional individuals in jazz with the NEA Jazz Masters class of 2022.”
One of the honorees counts as a native Washingtonian — Billy Hart. The drummer and educator bears the distinct privilege of being mentored by and performing with previous NEA Jazz Masters including Pharoah Sanders, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Smith and Shirley Horn, another Washingtonian.
“I am surprised and delighted to become an NEA Jazz Master,” Hart said. “Many of my most beloved peers and some of my favorite musicians of all time have already been given this award and I am honored to be included in this family.”
Cultural activist, saxophonist, composer and educator Donald Harrison, Jr. will receive the 2022 A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy. Many jazz fans appreciate Harrison’s contributions to the genre because of his hard-swinging improvisational style and creation of “Nouveau Swing,” a blend of jazz with R&B, hip-hop, rock and soul.
Stanley Clarke, a bassist, composer, arranger and producer serves as a popular musician across several musical genres. As an original member of the legendary jazz-rock fusion band Return to Forever, he and his fellow band members helped to redefine the sound of jazz over the last 50 years. Return to Forever’s founder, pianist/composer Chick Corea, was a 2006 NEA Jazz Master.
Cassandra Wilson, another honoree in the 2022 NEA Jazz Masters class, has been praised for her distinctive voice and fascinating arrangements of standards. Wilson, also a composer and guitarist, has made her mark not only in jazz but in blues, country and folk. Her body of work has expanded the definition of jazz.
A 40th anniversary Jazz Masters concert honoring the Class of 2022 has been scheduled for Thursday, March 31, 2022 and will be held in collaboration with and produced by SFJAZZ.
For a history about the NEA Jazz Masters and background on the 2022 honorees, visit the website https://www.arts.gov/honors/jazz.

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Brenda Siler is an award-winning journalist and public relations strategist. Her communications career began in college as an advertising copywriter, a news reporter, public affairs producer/host and a...

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