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NEA and Verve Release Master Takes

There is something about our government and Tuesdays. This past Tuesday, the president gave his State of the Union Address. Next Tuesday, the Hew Hampshire Democratic Primaries will take place. And last Tuesday, Jan. 13th, the National Endowment for the Arts (in cooperation with Verve) released NEA Jazz Masters, a two-disc compilation featuring the music of those artists who have been given the NEA’s highest honor for accomplishments in jazz. Of course this brewing conspiracy theory is likely bunk-all albums are released on Tuesdays.

Annually since 1982 the NEA has declared several major players Jazz Masters. NEA Jazz Masters features music from 23 of the 73 Jazz Masters, including Count Basie (pictured), Ella Fitzgerald, Ahmad Jamal, Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie and Joe Henderson. The players chosen for the award this year-Jim Hall, Chico Hamilton, Herbie Hancock, Luther Henderson and Nancy Wilson-are all on the CD as well. Even writer Nat Hentoff, who is the first non-musician Jazz Master, has his say. Nat wrote the CD’s liner notes.

The NEA and Verve also released five NEA Jazz Masters CDs online this past Tuesday (the news was just barely eclipsed by Bush’s speech). These include greatest hits albums for Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Sonny Rollins and Dizzy Gillespie, and are available only in digital form at Apple’s iTunes Music Store.

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