The New NEA Jazz Masters

The National Endowment for the Arts today named the 2012 NEA Jazz Masters. As announced in the NEA’s news release, the winners are:

Jack DeJohnette, Drummer, Keyboardist, Composer
(born in Chicago, IL; lives in Willow, NY)

Von Freeman, Saxophonist
(born in Chicago, IL; lives in Chicago, IL)

Charlie Haden, Bassist, Composer, Educator
(born in Shenandoah, IA; lives in Agoura Hills, CA)

Sheila Jordan, Vocalist, Educator
(born in Detroit, MI; lives in Middleburgh, NY and New York, NY)

*Jimmy Owens, Educator, Trumpeter, Flugelhorn Player, Composer, Arranger
(born in Bronx, NY; lives in New York, NY)

*Jimmy Owens is the recipient of the 2012 A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Award for Jazz Advocacy.

Each recipient will receive a one-time award of $25,000 and be publicly honored next January at the annual awards ceremony and concert, produced by Jazz at Lincoln Center at its home, Frederick P. Rose Hall in New York City. This class of NEA Jazz Masters brings to 124 the number of musicians who have received the honor.

Full profiles and photographs of the 2012 NEA Jazz Masters are on the NEA’s website.

Congratulations to all.

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  1. says

    I am especially happy for Sheila Jordan, (and, of course, the four other grantees).

    I was her accompanist from 1958 through 1969. In 1968, she was the principle soloist in my JAZZ REQUIEM MASS. The irony for me was that I composed it at her NYC 18th Street Greenwich Village apartmentt only because I had no piano of my own. I was paying some heavy NYC “jazz dues” in those years and she was gracious enough to give me the keys and allow me the freedom to stay all day. She had her full time day gig. Besides it was convenient to rehearse her part!

    We performed the premiere at Jazz Vespers with the Reverend John Garcia Gensel officiating. Sheila was outstanding and added her singular talent and improvisational acumen to the written score. My wife, Carol Lian conducted the choir; the late Joe Cocuzzo was on drums, Jack Six on bass, Norman Marnell and Lew DelGatto on tenor sax; I played the piano and we had a 20 voice choir. It has yet to be released on CD.

    Later in 1974-76 I composed an Oratorio, THE LIGHT OF THE SOUL for mixed chorus, narrator, and jazz tentette; a commission from the NEA and Sheila again sang in the premiere at JAZZ VESPERS with Rev. Gensel officiating and lending us the Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church. John Gensel was instrumental in getting me that grant. I am grateful for Sheila’s being part of my creative life.

    In 1961 I introduced Sheila to George Russell at the Page Three, a NY cafe where we were giging together. At the time, I was studying Russell’s The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization with George. The next year, they recorded their famous version of “You Are My Sunshine.” A few years later, I was at Lincoln Center when they reprised the piece as part of a memorable George Russell concert.

    What amazing graces. We are all connected.

  2. Jim Brown says

    Count me among those who are pleased with these selections, especially Von Freeman. Vonsky, as he is affectionately known in Chicago, is of those great players you immediately recognize in only a few bars, and has mentored and shared his stage with many young musicians who were coming up in Chicago. He’s a real American treasure.