National Endowment for the Arts Names New Class of Jazz Masters


The National Endowment for the Arts has announced its 2019 Jazz Masters, and it’s a diverse group.

The honorees are the composer and bandleader Maria Schneider, the South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, the pianist and vocalist Bob Dorough and the critic Stanley Crouch.

Last year, the Jazz Masters program appeared imperiled, as the Trump administration proposed eliminating the N.E.A. entirely. But the equilibrium has been restored, at least for now: The winners will each receive a $25,000 prize, as usual, and they will be celebrated according to custom in a ceremony at the Kennedy Center on April 15.

Ms. Schneider, 57, is the youngest woman ever to be selected for the award, and the rare recipient who’s still in the prime of her career. Known for her ambitious compositions and dazzling orchestral work, Ms. Schneider, a Minnesota native, is a five-time Grammy Award winner and a perennial presence atop the DownBeat critics poll.

Mr. Ibrahim is the first African-born musician to be chosen for the award; he moved to the United States in the 1960s, eventually becoming an American citizen. Since then, he has drawn from the musical mélange of his hometown, Cape Town; the influence of earlier pianists like Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington; and the avant-garde innovations that greeted him when he first arrived in New York City.

Mr. Dorough, whose career in jazz spanned more than 60 years, will become the rare posthumous recipient of the award. He was best known for the music to “Schoolhouse Rock,” but his compositions also appeared on recordings by the likes of Miles Davis and Blossom Dearie. Mr. Dorough was notified earlier this year that he had been selected to receive the award, but he died soon after. (Jazz Masters must be living at the time of their nomination.)

Mr. Crouch, 72, is this year’s recipient of the A. B. Spellman N.E.A. Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy. He began his career as an avant-garde drummer and poet before embracing a neoclassical ideology and establishing himself as one of the most provocative and influential writers on jazz. A friend and mentor of Wynton Marsalis, he played a central role in the founding of Jazz at Lincoln Center in the late 1980s. Mr. Crouch’s books include the essay collection “Considering Genius,” the novel “Don’t the Moon Look Lonesome?” and “Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker.”



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