Divergent (and Rambling) Thoughts About Jazz Mastery at NEA Celebration

Melissa Aldana and Jimmy Heath performing at the NEA Jazz Masters celebration/ Photo by Michael G. Stewart, courtesy of NEA

It was long. It was rambling. And, especially when a photographer jockeying for position blocked Wynton Marsalis’s view of the teleprompter, making him stop midsentence, it had awkward moments.

The National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Awards ceremony at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Allen Room earlier this month, hosted by Marsalis and CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, nevertheless reinforced some qualities that seem essential to jazz mastery, especially a searching spirit and a need for self-expression. Here‘s my story.

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