NEA Jazz Masters to Begin U.S. Tour in May

Classic Arts News   NEA Jazz Masters to Begin U.S. Tour in May
The winners of this year's National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Awards will begin a tour of the United States in late May, the NEA announced.

The 2005 Jazz Masters, announced last November, are guitarist Kenny Burrell, clarinetist/saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera, arranger/composer Slide Hampton, vocalist Shirley Horn, and jazz impresario George Wein. Two of the musicians honored last fall have since died: big-band leader Artie Shaw died at the end of December 2004, and organist Jimmy Smith died in February 2005.

The Jazz Masters will make a tour of the country that includes all 50 states, with funds for the concerts provided by the NEA to local nonprofit presenting organizations.

Curriculum materials for educational activities at each concert engagement are provided by the NEA Jazz in the Schools initiative.

Dana Gioia, NEA chairman, said, "The NEA is proud to announce the biggest jazz program in its history. We are not only sponsoring a 50-state tour by many of America's greatest living jazz musicians. We also are providing high-school teachers a free, multimedia jazz curriculum to introduce a new generation to this distinctly American art form."

The Jazz Masters on Tour program was launched last year with artists Ornette Coleman, Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Heath, and Randy Weston.

The Jazz Masters Award, inaugurated in 1982, is the nation's highest jazz honor. Previous winners include Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Miles Davis, Sarah Vaughan, and Art Blakey.

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