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A.B. Spellman: A Life in the Bebop Biz

A.B. Spellman

I know that it’s a violation to treat music as background, as wallpaper, but I do like working to classical music,” A.B. Spellman says. It’s 10 a.m. on a Monday morning, and he’s trying to explain the sounds booming in his sun-filled, fifth-floor office at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), where he’s been since 1975. “With jazz, I can’t do anything but listen.”

Spellman will have plenty of time to listen after May 2, when he retires from the arts organization. In honor of his service, the NEA Jazz Masters program renamed one of its honors the A.B. Spellman Award for Jazz Advocacy.

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