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National Endowment for the Arts Announces 2008 NEA Jazz Masters

The National Endowment for the Arts announced the recipients of its 2008 NEA Jazz Masters Award on Tuesday night at a press conference held at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in Lincoln Center in New York City. The award is considered the nation’s highest honor in jazz. The recipients will each receive a $25,000 fellowship, will appear at an award ceremony and concert next January 12 and have the opportunity to participate in other NEA-sponsored promotional and performance activities. The announcement was made by Arts Chairman Dana Gioia.

One winner of this year’s award was pianist and composer Andrew Hill (pictured), who died in April. Hill was notified of his receipt of the award shortly before his death. His wife, Joanne Robinson Hill, acknowledged the honor on his behalf.

In addition to Hill, this year’s recipients are Candido Camero (rhythm instrumentalist), Quincy Jones (bandleader), Tom McIntosh (composer-arranger) and Joe Wilder (solo instrumentalist/trumpet). This year’s recipient of the A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Master Award for Jazz Advocacy is Gunther Schuller.

In a departure from tradition, the newly named NEA Jazz Masters were in attendance at the announcement ceremony. They will receive their plaques at the NEA Jazz Masters Awards concert at the annual International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) conference in January.

In addition to celebrating the new honorees, the crowd at the club also enjoyed a set by 2005 NEA Jazz Master George Wein and the Newport All Stars in celebration of the concert promoter’s 82nd birthday.

Each master artist in the 2008 class has made a unique contribution to jazz:

* Candido Camero is credited with being the first percussionist to bring conga drumming to jazz.

* Andrew Hill spent 40 years composing, performing, recording, and mentoring young musicians. He earned acclaim for his innovative performances and compositions beginning in the 1960s.

* Quincy Jones is an impresario, conductor, record producer, musical arranger, film composer and trumpeter.

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