Wednesday, October 16, 2013

National Endowment for the Arts 2014 Jazz Masters

National Endowment for the Arts 2014 Jazz Masters

NEA Jazz MastersEvery year the National Endowment for the Arts honors a select group of living jazz musicians who have made significant contributions to the art form by awarding them an NEA Jazz Fellowship. The title of NEA Jazz Master is the nation’s highest honor in jazz, and total of 128 artists have been chosen to receive the award since 1982, including Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Herbie Hancock, Kenny Burrell, and Nancy Wilson. 

The 2014 NEA Jazz Masters are pianist Keith Jarrett, bassist Richard Davis, saxophonist and composer Anthony Braxton, and educator Jamey Abersold. This year’s recipients will be honored at an awards ceremony and concert on January 14, 2014 at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. 

The celebration will be webcast live on Jazz at Lincoln Center’s website. You can read more about the music and careers of past and present NEA Jazz Masters by visiting the National Endowment for the Arts website.

Before They Were Jazz Stars
Many jazz artists have focused on the genre their whole lives, but here are a few who worked in other fields before diving into the wonderful world of jazz.
Louis Armstrong
Daniel Louis Armstrong was born in 1900 in a two-room shack that was rented for 50 cents a month in New Orleans. His grandmother was a first-generation free African American and clearly remembered the days when her parents were slaves on southern plantations. He ended up in a Waif’s Home in 1913 for a year of discipline after firing a pistol into the air to celebrate New Year’s, and that’s where the home’s drill instructor taught him how to play the bugle. Between the time of his release and the time his career began to soar in the 1920’s, young Louis delivered coal and milk, served beer, sold newspapers and bananas, and even moonlighted as a garbage picker. He became known as one of the greatest jazz legends even during his lifetime and can be heard on our Classic Jazz channel.
Louis Armstrong

Molly Ringwald
It surprises some that actress Molly Ringwald’s first forays into performing were as a singer in her dad’s jazz band when she was just three years old. But her debut album, Except Sometimes, shows that Ringwald isn’t just an actress who wants to sing — she’s an actress who can sing. She knows her way around the American Songbook with renditions of “The Very Thought of You” and “I Get Along Without You Very Well.” Add the sassy assurance she displays on “Sooner or Later” and you’ll love her even more than you did when you watched The Breakfast Club. For fans of ‘80’s nostalgia, she includes a version of “Don’t You Forget About Me.” You can hear Molly on our Contemporary Vocals channel.

Hugh Laurie
You might know actor Hugh Laurie as the title character on the medical drama House. Before that, he was famous as a funnyman as part of Fry & Laurie and the BBC’s Black Adder. However, his times as a bluesman should be taken more seriously. On his album Let Them Talk, his English accent disappears in hard-swinging renditions of “Buddy Bolden’s Blues" and “Battle of Jericho.” 

He’s a lifelong fan of New Orleans blues and it shows in his track selections and guest collaborators (including one of Laurie’s favorites, Dr. John). The album is a perfect companion to a wooden stool at the bar and a cold drink in your hand. A few of Hugh’s tracks can be found on our Blues channel.

andre previn
André Previn
Many classical conductors play piano, but how many can swing a jazzy rendition of “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered?” André Previn has led the world’s most prestigious orchestras and is well-versed in the classical canon, even contributing some of his own works as a composer. 

At the same time, he’s just as comfortable with the intimacy of sitting alone in a studio with a piano and his favorite jazz tunes. He cites Bill Evans and Count Basie as favorite musicians, and according to a questionnaire on his website, says his favorite bird is Charlier Parker. Hear André Previn’s work on our Straight-Ahead and Piano Jazz channels.

Montreal International Jazz Festival

Montreal SkylineGuinness World Records ranked the Montréal International Jazz Festival as the largest in the world, with an estimated 2 million attendees in 2013! This year’s festival was from June 27 to July 6, offering 10 days of jazz-centric celebrations for fans of all types of jazz music, whether casual listeners or committed aficionados of the genre. 

The Festival attracts a global crowd including fans from some 30 countries, 3,000 musicians and public entertainers, 1,000 concerts and activities—two-thirds of them free – in 15 concert halls and on 8 outdoor stages, from noon to midnight! This year, partnered with hotels throughout Montréal to offer listeners special rates on their stay. To learn more about the festival and related events that continue throughout the year, visit the Montreal International Jazz Festival website.

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