NEA chairman Dana Gioia and jazz author, critic, and former NEA deputy chairman A. B. Spellman will host the ceremony, which will include musical tributes by the Clayton Brothers, the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, 2004 NEA Jazz Master Nancy Wilson, trumpet player Roy Hargrove and vocalist Roberta Gambarini, as well as a jam session with the honorees.
The NEA Jazz Masters, Class of 2007, are Toshiko Akiyoshi (bandleader), Curtis Fuller (solo instrumentalist, trombone), Ramsey Lewis (pianist), Jimmy Scott (vocalist), Frank Wess (solo instrumentalist, flute), and Phil Woods (composer-arranger). In addition, the A. B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Award for Jazz Advocacy will be presented to Dan Morgenstern.
Each year since 1982, the NEA Jazz Masters Award has been given to (living) jazz musicians who have made major contributions to the genre. To date the honor has been given to 87 prominent musicians. Each 2007 winner will be awarded $25,000.
Upon announcing the winners last October, Gioia said, "The jazz world has come to regard the NEA Jazz Masters Award as its equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize. We are immensely proud that the Arts Endowment can not only honor these American artists but also help them to forge new connections with the public, thanks to the outreach and education programs of the NEA Jazz Masters program."
Each member of the NEA Jazz Masters Class of 2007 has made a distinctive contribution to jazz. Bandleader Toshiko Akiyoshi helped re-make the big-band tradition for contemporary audiences; trombonist Curtis Fuller (a performer and teacher) is a mainstay of the hard-bop era; pianist Ramsey Lewis spans the influences of gospel music, classical music and mainstream jazz; while Jimmy Scott sings everything from ballads to rhythm 'n' blues.
Multi-instrumentalist Frank Wess is being honored as one of the most influential and innovative flutists in jazz history. Master alto saxophonist Phil Woods has been named an NEA Jazz Master in the composer-arranger category, in recognition of his contributions to the modern jazz repertoire. Dan Morgenstern, director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University, has devoted himself to jazz advocacy as an historian, archivist, author, editor, and educator.
NEA Jazz Masters are awarded based on nominations submitted by the public.