The National Endowment for the Arts has announced its selections for 2016 NEA Jazz Masters, the highest honor that our nation bestows on a jazz musician, which includes a cash award of $25,000 and an award ceremony and celebratory concert.
The NEA also announced a change in venue for its celebratory events, which had previously been staged at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center. This year, As part of the National Endowment for the Arts’ 50th anniversary events, the annual NEA Jazz Masters celebration will take place in April 2016 in the nation’s capital, in collaboration with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
A free concert honoring the 2016 NEA Jazz Masters will be presented at 8:00pm on Monday, April 4, 2016, at the Kennedy Center’s ConcertHall and also available in a live video stream at arts.gov, Kennedy-Center.org, and NPR.org/Music. In addition, as a way of expanding opportunities for the public to engage with the artists and their music, the celebration will include other activities April 2-5, such as moderated panel discussions and listening parties at NPR headquarters in Washington, DC, and educational opportunities for local DC students, which will feature some of the 2016 NEA Jazz Masters. More details on these events, including how to obtain tickets for the April 4 concert, will be announced in early 2016. (More information is available here.)
The 2016 NEA Jazz Masters are:
- Pharoah Sanders—Saxophonist, Composer
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.” Emerging from John Coltrane’s groups of the mid-1960s, Sanders is known for his distinctive sound marked by overblowing, harmonic, and multiphonic techniques.
- Archie Shepp—Saxophonist, Composer, Educator
Shepp is best known for his Afrocentric music of the late 1960s, a unique style of free-form avant-garde jazz blended with African rhythms, and his collaborations with John Coltrane, Horace Parlan, Cecil Taylor, and the New York Contemporary Five ensemble. His long career as an educator has focused on ethnomusicology, looking at the history of African-American music from its origins in Africa to its current state.
- Gary Burton—Vibraphonist, Bandleader, Educator
Burton’s four-mallet technique on the vibraphone gave the instrument a new musical vocabulary in jazz and a fuller, more piano-like sound than the traditional two-mallet approach. He was one of the progenitors of jazz fusion in the late 1960s, and had a decades-long educational career at Berklee College of Music.
- Wendy Oxenhorn*—Musician’s Advocate/the 2016 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.
Oxenhorn is the executive director and vice chairman of the Jazz Foundation of America, an organization headquartered in New York, New York, 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.”