The National Endowment for the Arts on Monday announced its class of 2018 Jazz Masters, awarding the annual fellowship to a broad range of honorees at various stages of their careers.
The winners are the vocalist Dianne Reeves; the guitarist Pat Metheny; the pianist and educator Joanne Brackeen; and the former club owner and record producer Todd Barkan, who will receive the A. B. Spellman N.E.A. Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy. Each awardee will receive a $25,000 prize, and will be honored at the Kennedy Center on April 16.
The announcement betokens the generational turnover afoot in jazz: Ms. Reeves and Mr. Metheny, both in their early 60s and just stepping into their role as elders, hit the national spotlight in the late 1970s and early ’80s as part of jazz’s fusion generation. (The award is available only to living musicians and advocates.)
The news also serves as a reminder that the federal agency is conducting business as usual, at least until further notice — despite the Trump administration’s threats to defund it.
Through a spokesman, Ms. Reeves said: “It is profoundly humbling to be a recipient of the N.E.A.’s Jazz Masters Fellowship and be seated in proximity to so many extraordinary, creative musical artists.”
Ms. Reeves first achieved renown in the early 1980s, when her full-throated vocal style earned immediate comparisons to Sarah Vaughan. She was a protégé of Harry Belafonte, and often mixed influences from around the globe with American gospel and jazz. She has since become more identified with straight-ahead jazz, thanks largely to a string of Grammy-winning albums from the 2000s, including “A Little Moonlight” and “Good Night, and Good Luck,” the soundtrack to the film of the same name.
Mr. Metheny established his reputation as a guitar virtuoso early on, and started teaching at the Berklee College of Music before his 20th birthday. He’s known for his bubbling, effortless attack and his fondness for rare iterations of the guitar — including a 15-string harp guitar and a guitar synthesizer.
Ms. Brackeen, 78, played in ensembles led by Joe Henderson and Stan Getz; as a leader of her own bands, she embraced the percussive style of McCoy Tyner, as well as the expressionism of pianists on the far fringes of the avant-garde. She has served as a professor at Berklee and the New School.
Mr. Barkan, 70, ran San Francisco’s Keystone Korner from 1972 to 1983, earning praise for the club’s diverse bookings. After it closed, he became a record producer and eventually moved to New York. In recent years he has worked at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, part of Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the Iridium. Like many promoters, he has a catch phrase, one he dispenses at almost every opportunity: “Take care of the music and the music will take care of you.”
Continue reading the main story