NEA Announces 2018 Jazz Masters

Honorees include three musicians and one club owner/producer

JoAnne Brackeen (photo by Carol Friedman)
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JoAnne Brackeen (photo by Carol Friedman)
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Pat Metheny (photo by John Peden)
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Pat Metheny (photo by John Peden)
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Dianne Reeves (photo by Jerris Madison)
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Dianne Reeves (photo by Jerris Madison)
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Todd Barkan (photo by John Abbott)
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Todd Barkan (photo by John Abbott)
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On June 12, the National Endowment for the Arts announced the recipients of the 2018 NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship—the nation’s highest honor in jazz—during Pat Metheny’s performance with Antonio Sanchez, Linda May Han Oh and Gwilym Simcock at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as part of the DC Jazz Festival. This year’s honorees are guitarist and composer Metheny, pianist and composer JoAnne Brackeen, vocalist Dianne Reeves and club owner and producer Todd Barkan. Each receives a $25,000 award and will be honored at a tribute concert on April 16, 2018 in recognition of their lifetime achievements and contributions to jazz.

“The NEA Jazz Masters represent the very pinnacle of talent, creativity, innovation and vision,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu in a press release sent to JazzTimes. “We look forward to celebrating these four new Jazz Masters and their many contributions to jazz.”

For more information on the NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship visit www.arts.gov/honors/jazz.

Artist’s Statements

JoAnne Brackeen

“I am surprised to be honored with the NEA’s prestigious award and to be in such inspiring company. It feels marvelous and awesome, and it motivates and enables me to expand more in this intriguing and fascinating world of jazz. Thank you so much!”

Read our “Artist’s Choice” feature with Brackeen from 2015.

Pat Metheny

“It is a true honor to be selected as a recipient of the 2018 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Fellowship Award. I am grateful and truly humbled to be included among the many musicians here who have personally inspired me and whose creativity has brought so much beauty and wisdom to the world. It is a deep and singular privilege to be part of the ongoing legacy that this music represents.”

Read our interview with Metheny from 2016.

Dianne Reeves

“In the beginning of my career, I had the good fortune to attend ‘living’ schools of jazz; I was able to learn directly from, and be mentored by, the masters—the first being Clark Terry. It was the most fertile soil any young aspiring artist could hope for. That was 45 years ago, and the lessons I learned—which still resonate with me daily—made this day possible. I am humbled and honored to be a recipient of the NEA’s Jazz Master award, and to be seated in proximity to so many extraordinary, historic artists who have elevated the music to the station of greatness it now occupies … with untold greatness awaiting.”

Read our “Before and After” feature with Reeves from earlier this year.

Todd Barkan

“For me, the art of jazz is most supremely expressed in affording others the opportunity and space to create and swing together. I am deeply moved by this recognition from my peers, with whom it has been a lifelong blessing to work, to play, and hopefully touch a few hearts along the way. As Bobby Hutcherson told me quite a few times, and even wrote on the wall of the Keystone Korner, ‘True love asks nothing in return.’”

Read our interview with Barkan from 2011.