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NEA’s Jazz Masters Mistake

Wynton Marsalis performing with Dave Brubeck at CareFusion Newport Jazz Festival 2010
Ellis Marsalis Barbados

It has been hailed, justifiably, as the nation’s highest honor for jazz. Its membership roll includes many of the pioneers and stewards of our music, from Kenny Clarke to Annie Ross. I’m referring of course to the NEA Jazz Masters Awards, administered since 1982 by the National Endowment for the Arts. Every year the program recognizes artists from across the stylistic spectrum, each nominated by the public, selected by a jury of peers and given a fellowship of $25,000. The Jazz Masters class of 2011-scheduled to be inducted during a concert and ceremony on Jan. 11 at Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center-includes flutist Hubert Laws, saxophonist-flutist David Liebman and composer Johnny Mandel. The A.B. Spellman Award for Jazz Advocacy will go to producer and writer Orrin Keepnews.

And in an NEA Jazz Masters first, a group award has been set aside for the Marsalis Family: pianist and patriarch Ellis Marsalis Jr., now 75; tenor and soprano saxophonist Branford Marsalis, 50; trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, 48; trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis, 45; and percussionist Jason Marsalis, 33.

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