For the 4th year, I have been fortunate enough to be the photographer for The National Endowment for the Arts’ annual Jazz Masters awards at Jazz at Lincoln Center, in New York City. While the weather conspired against me ( turning the usual less than 4 hour drive from D.C. into a 6 1/2 hour battle against torrential rains ), the event itself was, as always, a unique opportunity to meet and work with some of the most innovative luminaries of the jazz world, America’s special contribution to musical culture. This year’s class of Masters included pianist, composer & bandleader Carla Bley, saxophonists George Coleman and Charles Lloyd, and Chicago jazz entrepreneur Joe Segal. The award presentation, held in the Rose Theater, was an evening filled with fabulous music, entertaining stories and the warmth that comes with the companionship of old friends. The NEA, and its new Chairwoman Jane Chu, should be commended for helping to keep this most American of art forms alive and relevant, and affording its original innovators the recognition they so richly deserve.
George Coleman – from B.B. King to Miles Davis & beyond
Ira Sullivan performed with Jimmy Heath
Thelonious Monk Award winner Cecile McLorin Salvant performed “Motherless Child” in honor of the Jazz Masters who left us in 2014
Charles Lloyd and company
OK, OK- I admit that I may be biased, but I just wanted to give a great big shout out to some fabulous people that get very little recognition for the very hard work that they do in support of the arts, and artists of America! The National Endowment for the Arts does tremendous work to keep ALL the arts alive and vibrant in this great country of ours and the staff people in the trenches put in long and difficult hours to be sure that our society’s greatest creative gifts and treasures are not forgotten! These are just a very few of my friends and colleagues who made my job so much easier at the Jazz Masters ( not to mention the Heritage Fellows ), and I just wanted to say thanks again!
(apologies to everyone behind the scenes that I’ve left out-)
For many years now, I have been fortunate to work with the wonderful folks at the National Endowment for the Arts here in Washington, D.C., creating images of the many artists and events they so generously help to support, despite the ongoing crisis in arts funding. A more dedicated, professional and hardworking group of people you are unlikely to meet anywhere and I consider myself lucky to work with the likes of Victoria Hutter, Liz Auclair, Wayne Brown, Barry Bergey, Katja von Schuttenbach, Chairman Rocco Landesman and all the rest.
This week I journeyed up to New York City, to document the presentation of the 2012 NEA Jazz Masters Awards at Jazz at Lincoln Center. As many of my friends know, I am a longtime lover of jazz, since, as a child, my father would tune the radio to WMAL and Felix Grant’s show, sending the sounds of bebop and bossa nova through the night time ether. The NEA has graciously hired me to be their photographer on many folk, traditional, opera and related arts events before, each one a world class experience, but this was the holy grail. This was JAZZ!
True, this was no tiny smoke filled club, no jams crystallizing the cool night air as the sun rose over Harlem, and many of these lions of the music world are in the autumn of their days, but the sounds of saxophones and pianos filled the air, and each waking moment was filled with the voices of the hippest generation’s reminiscences. What could be cooler than meeting and listening to the stories of Jimmy Heath, Ahmad Jamal, Paquito D’Rivera, Yusef Lateef, Annie Ross?
This 30th Anniversary was a celebration to remember, and I was honored and proud to be a small part of the festivities welcoming Jack DeJohnette, Von Freeman, Charlie Haden, Sheila Jordan and Jimmy Owens into such a firmament of musical stars. Thanks for the Music!
Jack DeJohnette Sheila Jordan Jimmy Owens