NEA Names 2017 Jazz Masters

Dee Dee Bridgewater. Photo by Mark Higashino/ Dr. Lonnie Smith. Photo by Mathieu Bitton/ Dick Hyman. Photo by Bob Haggart Jr./ David Holland. Photo by Ulli Gruber/ Ira Gitler. Photo by Frances McLaughlin-Gill/

Dee Dee Bridgewater. Photo by Mark Higashino/ Dr. Lonnie Smith. Photo by Mathieu Bitton/ Dick Hyman. Photo by Bob Haggart Jr./ David Holland. Photo by Ulli Gruber/ Ira Gitler. Photo by Frances McLaughlin-Gill/

There are still events that force me to check my cynicism at the door.

The annual NEA Jazz Masters Awards counts among them.

I may sometimes disagree with the choices of recipients, but never with the purpose: to honor individuals—musicians and advocates— for their lifetime achievements and exceptional contributions to the advancement of jazz.

Usually, the annual celebrations help me reflect on the range of personalities and personal interpretations that end up defining jazz and shaping both its legacy and forward flow. Here’s my coverage of the annual celebrations in 2013,  2014 and 2015.

Each 2017 NEA Jazz Master will receive a $25,000 award and be honored at a tribute concert on Monday, April 3, 2017, produced in collaboration with the Kennedy Center.

Here are the 2017 NEA Jazz Masters, with brief biographies provided by the NEA:

I’ve got no arguments against any of these selections, and I’m especially pleased to see singer/actress Dee Dee Bridgewater in there.

Dee Dee Bridgewater – Vocalist, Producer, Broadcaster

Bridgewater is a daring performer of great depth whose singing talents have earned her both a Tony and multiple Grammy Awards. In addition, her commanding personality made her a natural for hosting the award-winning National Public Radio syndicated radio show JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater from 2001 to 2014. 

Ira Gitler* – Author, Editor, Producer, Educator

Gitler is an American jazz historian, journalist, educator, and author who has written several books about jazz and hundreds of liner notes for jazz recordings. He has also written for many jazz publications, and served as associate editor of Downbeat during the 1960s. In the 1980s and ’90s he produced concerts for George Wein’s New York jazz festivals. Gitler also taught jazz history at several colleges and is considered one of the great historians and champions of the music.

Dave Holland – Bassist, Cellist, Composer, Bandleader

Holland is one of the most versatile bassists in jazz, working across different styles seamlessly, from traditional to avant-garde jazz to world and folk music. He is also an accomplished composer and bandleader, bringing together musicians of exceptional talent to perform his intricate compositions. In a career spanning five decades, he has continued to evolve musically with each new project while honing his instantly identifiable sound.

Dick Hyman – Keyboardist, Composer, Arranger

Hyman is a piano virtuoso who—Zelig-like—has been known for playing in any style he wants. A masterful improviser, he is also a composer of concerti and chamber music, and the soundtrack composer/arranger for more than a dozen Woody Allen films (including, appropriately, Zelig). In addition, he launched the acclaimed Jazz in July series at the 92nd Street Y in New York City and served as its artistic director for 20 years.

Dr. Lonnie Smith – Organist, Composer

Smith is a master Hammond B3 jazz organist and composer who, in a career spanning more than 50 years, has been featured on more than 70 jazz, blues, and rhythm-and-blues recordings. He is considered one of the premier purveyors of funk/soul jazz. 

* Ira Gitler is the recipient of the 2017 A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Award for Jazz Advocacy, which is bestowed upon an individual who has contributed significantly to the appreciation, knowledge, and advancement of the art form of jazz.

A free concert honoring the 2017 NEA Jazz Masters will be presented on Monday, April 3, 2017, at the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall and also available through a live web stream. This concert will be open to the public. More information about this concert and how to obtain tickets will be available in 2017. An archive of the 2016 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert, which also took place at the Kennedy Center, is available here.

 

 

http://online.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704548604575097493175501542

 

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

March 24, 2010

 

Dee Dee Plays Billie, In Her Own Voice

 

By Larry Blumenfeld

 

“Young people take note of this woman’s life, this woman’s bravery, so you can stand up and not be afraid to speak in your own voice. Children, stand tall and dare to be a Billie Holiday.”

 

So writes singer Dee Dee Bridgewater in a note to her latest CD, “Eleanora Fagan (1915-1959): To Billie With Love From Dee Dee” (DDB Records/Emarcy), a tribute whose title begins with Holiday’s given name.

 

NEA Chairman Jane Chu said, “For 35 years, the National Endowment for the Arts has celebrated jazz, one of our nation’s most important cultural contributions, by honoring those who have dedicated their lives to this music. I am pleased to welcome these five individuals with their artistry, energy, and commitment to jazz to the NEA Jazz Masters family.”

A free concert honoring the 2017 NEA Jazz Masters will be presented on Monday, April 3, 2017, at the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall and also available through a live web stream. This concert will be open to the public. More information about this concert and how to obtain tickets will be available in 2017. An archive of the 2016 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert, which also took place at the Kennedy Center, is available here.

Views expressed on this blog, which is hosted on BlouinArtinfo.com but produced independently of it, do not necessarily reflect the views of BlouinArtinfo.com.