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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.
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Carla Bley
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Steve Swallow photo a blog jazz7.jpg
George Coleman – from B.B. King to Miles Davis & beyond
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Charles Lloyd photo a blog jazz1.jpg
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Ira Sullivan performed with Jimmy Heath photo ablog jazz5.jpg
Thelonious Monk Award winner Cecile McLorin Salvant performed “Motherless Child” in honor of the Jazz Masters who left us in 2014 photo ablog jazz6.jpg
Charles Lloyd and company



Since 1982, the NEA has presented the Jazz Masters Fellowships, our nation’s highest honor to those individuals whose contributions to this uniquely American art form have made them worthy of special recognition. The ceremony and concert was held at the intimate Dizzy’s Club, in the Jazz at Lincoln Center complex, and honored the life’s work of Eddie Palmieri, Mose Allison, Lou Donaldson and Lorraine Gordon. Sharing the stage with these legendary jazz luminaries was the all star rhythm section of Kenny Barron on piano, Ron Carter on bass and Jimmy Cobb on drums. In addition, the crowd was treated to performances by special guests ( and past Jazz Masters Fellows ) Randy Weston, Jimmy Heath, Sheila Jordan, David Liebman and Paquito D’Rivera. It is an honor and a great privilege for me to be part of this summit of such stellar jazz luminaries, and as always, I applaud the National Endowment for the Arts in their tireless efforts in keeping the arts alive and vibrant in these difficult financial times. I hope my meager contribution of creating these ( and many more) images of the event helps to keep jazz, and all American art in the public eye. If these photos are not enough, be sure to track down the music of these gifted musicians, and the thousands of others, past and present, who create that fabulous American art form we know as JAZZ!
Top to bottom- Kenny Barron & Jimmy Heath, Sheila Jordan, Lou Donaldson & Kenny Barron, Eddie Palmieri, Dave Liebman, Ron Carter, Paquito D’Rivera