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NEA Jazz Masters Honors Titans

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Monday April 23, 2018

From DownBeat

NEA Jazz Masters Concert Honors Titans
By: John Murph

The other 2018 Jazz Masters fellows are guitarist Pat Metheny, pianist Joanne Brackeen and vocalist Dianne Reeves. Each artist delivered passionate, thoughtful and eloquent statements that touched upon personal revelations, endurance and gratitude.

The NEA Jazz Masters fellowship is the highest honor in the United States given to individuals who have dedicated their lives to the art form. Each winner receives a one-time fellowship of $25,000. The NEA now has bestowed the “Master” award to 149 individuals.

In her acceptance speech, Reeves emphasized the importance of having a supportive family during her formative years in Denver. Like other inductees, she stressed the value of continued commitment to the art and how it will eventually reward you in return. “This music has always nourished my soul; it gave me a connection to endless possibilities,” she said. “When music first called to me, and I said ‘yes,’ the most incredible things started to happen. And the most incredible people started to show up.”

A cadre of top-notch musicians treated each honoree with a gripping performance tailored specifically to his or her individual aesthetic, with a medley of some of their compositions or some of their signature tunes.

Except for a performance by veteran pianist Eddie Palmieri—who opened the evening by leading a sextet through a sizzling rendition of his piece “Noble Cruise,” which was originally dedicated to Thelonious Monk and his brother Charlie Palmieri—the concert showcased an intergenerational sensibility, with younger musicians tipping their hats to their elders.

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