In a concert and ceremony at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, the National Endowment for the Arts recognized its 2014 class of Jazz Masters.
The honor is the highest federally supported award for jazz artistry; those recognized receive a $25,000 grant and a tribute performance. The event was webcast live on the NEA's website, XM Satellite Radio and WBGO.org, as well as on NPR Music.
The NEA honors four individuals in 2014. Jamey Aebersold is best known as an educator, whether in person, through his camps and clinics, or with his popular Play-A-Long recordings series. Anthony Braxton explodes idiom through compositions with unique fundamental structures, with virtuosic saxophone playing to match. Richard Davis is, simply, one of the greatest bassists in the music's history (and is, like Braxton, a long-time educator). And Keith Jarrett is well known for his influential brand of pianism, whether he's playing standards, exploring classical repertoire or improvising freely.
Journalist Soledad O'Brien hosted the event, which featured performances by NEA Jazz Masters and guest artists, including a number of up-and-coming musicians.
Since 1982, the NEA has recognized 132 Jazz Masters (or group awards), all of whom were living at the time of their selection. In addition to the one-time grant, recipients are also invited to participate in NEA-sponsored live performances and education programs across the country.