The National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Fellowship, which comes with $25,000, is possibly the highest honor for jazz musicians given in the country that cultivated them. Over 30 years 124 of those fellowships have been given out.
And so the annual concert and celebration at Rose Hall in Jazz at Lincoln Center to honor the new fellowsthis year they were the drummer Jack DeJohnette; the saxophonist Von Freeman; the bassist Charlie Haden; the vocalist Sheila Jordan; and the trumpeter and educator Jimmy Owensalso serves as a reunion for the growing crowd of old ones.
Mr. DeJohnette, Ms. Jordan and Mr. Owens were present on Tuesday night, speaking and performing. Mr. Haden and Mr. Freeman couldn't attend, for health reasons; what they presumably saw on the live Webstream will be archived and available shortly on the Jazz at Lincoln Center Web site, jalc.org.
Let's hope the cameras lingered over the audience and backstage rooms. The music was shaky or strong; the speeches were sentimental or pointed; but that's secondary. Here is a gathering at which you can encounter in one spot, as was the case on Tuesday night, Ornette Coleman, Candido Camero, Jon Hendricks, Ahmad Jamal, Joe Wilder, Bobby Hutcherson, Ron Carter, Muhal Richard Abrams, Lee Konitz, Randy Weston and on and on, down to younger musicians, including Kris Bowers, Ethan Iverson, Grace Kelly and Ambrose Akinmusireand, obviously, Wynton Marsalis, the Jazz at Lincoln Center artistic director.
Jazz, the music, is best understood as an idea of continuity. This event was the reality of continuity.
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