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NEA Jazz Masters Honored in NYC

Class of 2011 includes Hubert Laws, David Liebman, Johnny Mandel, the Marsalis family and Orrin Keepnews

2011 NEA Jazz Master David Liebman
2011 NEA Jazz Master Hubert Laws
2011 NEA Jazz Master Hubert Laws
2011 NEA Jazz Master Johnny Mandel
2011 NEA Jazz Masters panel: A.B Spellman; Orrin Keepnews; Hubert Laws; David Liebman; Johnny Mandel; Ellis Marsalis
Wynton, Branford and Jason Marsalis at panel for 2011 NEA Jazz Masters
2011 NEA Jazz Masters, along with Rocco Landesman and Wayne Brown from NEA and Adrian Ellis from Jazz at Lincoln Center
Jimmy Heath and Roberta Gambarini performing at NEA Jazz Masters ceremony
2011 NEA Jazz Master Ellis Marsalis
2011 NEA Jazz Masters Delfeayo, Branford, Wynton and Ellis Marsalis

At the annual NEA Jazz Masters awards ceremony held on Tuesday evening at Rose Hall at Jazz at Lincoln Center, the themes of community and family kept surfacing and not just because, for the first time in its history, the organization included a family-the Marsalis family-in its slate of honorees. Besides the Marsalis family-father Ellis, along with sons Wynton, Branford, Delfeayo and Jason-this year’s NEA Jazz Masters were Hubert Laws, David Liebman, Johnny Mandel and Orrin Keepnews. Ranging in age from 64 (Liebman) to 87 (Keepnews), this year’s class of Jazz Masters came from very different backgrounds but all shared a lifelong love and commitment to the music.

At a panel held early on Monday afternoon, the day before the ceremony, writer and arts advocate A.B. Spellman moderated a discussion with the new class of Jazz Masters (with Ellis representing the Marsalis family). Although Spellman kept asking about the effect of jazz moving away from the private sector of nightclubs to the highly subsidized world of performing arts, the panelists instead preferred to talk about the sense of community in jazz, in the past, present and future. Marsalis voiced concern that the feeling of community with jazz musicians is getting harder in modern times, though Mandel said that jazz musicians will always be like a family. Laws said that for him, “People are more important than things, and family members give us more than anything we can get.” He added, “I miss the old days, when we were like family.”

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