Initiated in 1982, the NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship is the nation’s highest honor given to those who have devoted their lives and careers to jazz, an art form uniquely rooted in American history and culture. Described by The New York Times as a “rare public accolade for jazz”, the recipients represent a wide variety of musical distinction, from singers and percussionists, to vibraphonists and saxophonists—all of whom have shaped and advanced the jazz art form through their lifelong commitment.
With the announcement of the 2015 class, the NEA has awarded 136 Jazz Masters Fellowships to living legends who have made major contributions to jazz, including Art Blakey
, Dave Brubeck
, Ornette Coleman
, Chick Corea
, Miles Davis
, Pacquito D'Rivera
, Ella Fitzgerald
, Dizzy Gillespie
, Lionel Hampton
, Herbie Hancock
, Sheila Jordan
, Abbey Lincoln
, Eddie Palmieri
, Max Roach
, Sonny Rollins
, Cecil Taylor
, Sarah Vaughan
, John Levy
; and recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder.
The NEA recognizes up to four artists each year, with each receiving a one ‐ time fellowship award of $25,000, and being honored at a public awards ceremony and concert. Fellowships are awarded to living individuals on the basis of nominations from the public including the jazz community. The NEA encourages nominations of a broad range of men and women who have been significant to the field of jazz, through vocals, instrumental performance, creative leadership, and education.
he 2015 NEA Jazz Masters are recognized for their lifetime achievements and exceptional contributions to the advancement of jazz.Carla Bley
(Willow, New York)—keyboardist, composer, arranger, bandleader George Coleman
(Jersey City, New Jersey)—saxophonist, composer, educator Charles Lloyd
(Santa Barbara, California)—saxophonist, flutist, composer Joe Segal* (Chicago, Illinois)—jazz presenter and club owner
* Joe Segal is the recipient of the 2015 A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Award for Jazz Advocacy, which is bestowed upon an individual who has contributed significantly to the appreciation, knowledge, and advancement of the art form of jazz.
The NEA will honor the 2015 Jazz Masters at an awards ceremony and concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center on Monday, April 20, 2015. Please note the concert will take place in April to coincide with Jazz Appreciation Month. The concert will be streamed live on arts.gov and jalc.org/live. More information about the awards ceremony and concert will be released closer to the concert date.