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 Tuesday, 01 December 2015
2011 NEA Jazz Masters: Hubert Laws, David Liebman, Johnny Mandel, Marsalis Family & Orrin Keepnews PDF Print
Written by Ronaldo Oregano   
Sunday, 27 June 2010
Wynton Marsalis &Copy; Andrea Canter
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced the recipients of the 2011 NEA Jazz Masters Award—the nation’s highest honor in this distinctly American music. For the first time in the program’s 29-year history, in addition to four individual awards, the NEA will present a group award to the Marsalis family, New Orleans’ venerable first family of jazz. All of the 2011 recipients will be publicly honored at the annual awards ceremony and concert on January 11, 2011 at Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, and receive a $25,000 fellowship award.

The 2011 NEA Jazz Masters are: flutist Hubert Laws; saxophonist, glutist, and composer David Liebman; composer, arranger, trumpeter, and trombonist Johnny Mandel; and the Marsalis Family: pianist and  educator Ellis Marsalis, Jr.; saxophonist, composer, and bandleader Branford Marsalis trumpeter, composer, educator and bandleader Wynton Marsalis; trombonist and producer Delfeayo Marsalis; and percussionist and vibraphonist Jason Marsalis. Orrin Keepnews, a jazz producer and author from El Cerrito, California, will receive the 2011 A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Award for Jazz Advocacy.

David Liebman Jean Rader.

Chairman Landesman said, “On behalf of the NEA, I extend my heartfelt congratulations to this group of stellar artists and thank them for all they have accomplished and shared with us in the course of their careers. Their works of art have delighted and challenged us, illuminated our sense of the world, and refreshed our understanding of what is possible.”

“The contributions the 2011 NEA Jazz Masters have made to jazz are innumerable and as diverse as the art form itself,” said Wayne S. Brown, NEA director of Music and Opera. “But in addition to the impact of their music, these masters also have played invaluable roles as educators and founders of jazz education programs.”

For the January awards ceremony and concert, the Arts Endowment will continue to partner with Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City to produce the event. The awards ceremony and concert will feature the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in a program dedicated to the honorees’ lives and works. Past collaborations between the NEA and Jazz at Lincoln Center include the Verizon Foundation-supported NEA Jazz in the Schools multi-media jazz education curriculum—available free of charge to high school teachers nationwide and used by nearly 8.4 million students since its inception in 2006.

Each member of the 2011 NEA Jazz Masters class is a distinguished artist whose significant lifetime contributions have helped to enrich jazz and further the growth of the art form.

Hubert Laws
One of the few to specialize in the flute, Hubert Laws is the premier musician on the instrument in jazz. In three decades of playing, he has also mastered pop, rhythm-and-blues, and classical genres.

David Liebman’s curiosity and innovation allow him to play in any style, especially on his favorite instrument, the soprano sax. His interest in education led him to found the International Association of Schools of Jazz.

Johnny Mandel is considered one of the nation’s top composer/arrangers in jazz, pop, and film music. The breadth and quality of his work made it possible to be recorded by a wide variety of jazz musicians and singers.

The Marsalis family, together and individually, has been enormously influential in the world of jazz as performers, composers, conductors, educators, and advocates.
The patriarch of the family, Ellis Marsalis, Jr. is a noted pianist, director-emeritus of Jazz Studies at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, and former head of the Jazz Studies Program at the University of New Orleans.

Delfeayo Marsalis Andrea Canter
Ellis’s oldest son, Branford Marsalis, is one of the most sought-after saxophonists in jazz, pop, and classical, in addition to leading his own renowned quartet. He has developed a learning approach for student musicians in colleges and high schools in which leading jazz ensembles present concert/jam sessions in mini-residencies.

By creating and performing an expansive range of brilliant new music for quartets to big bands, chamber music ensembles to symphony orchestras, tap dance to ballet, Wynton Marsalis has expanded the vocabulary for jazz and created a vital body of work that places him among the world’s finest musicians and composers. As a devoted advocate for arts education, he has developed curriculums, initiated programs, and given countless master classes and speeches around the world. He has won nine Grammy Awards, the Pulitzer Prize for Music, and has been awarded the National Medal of Arts.  Wynton presently serves as Artistic Director for Jazz at Lincoln Center and Music Director for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.  

Delfeayo Marsalis is one of the most in-demand jazz producers and has toured internationally as a trombonist with artists such as Abdullah Ibrahim, Slide Hampton, and Max Roach, as well as with his own ensemble. In 2009, he implemented Uptown Music Theatre’s Kidstown AfterSchool in three New Orleans grammar schools.

The youngest son, Jason Marsalis, took up drumming at age six and began sitting in with his father’s band at age seven. His interest in Latin music—in particular Brazilian—has permeated his recordings. After studying the vibraphone for almost a decade he now increasingly includes the instrument in his performances and recordings.

Considered one of the great jazz producers in the business, Orrin Keepnews co-founded Riverside Records in the 1950s, recording some of the biggest names in jazz, such as Thelonious Monk and promising new artists such as Bill Evans. He has been at the forefront of producing reissues of the sessions on which he originally worked, and is known for his Grammy award-winning liner notes.

Full profiles of the 2011 NEA Jazz Masters are located on the NEA’s website.
Each year since 1982, the Arts Endowment has conferred the NEA Jazz Masters Award to living legends who have made major contributions to jazz. With this new class, 119 awards have been given to great figures of jazz in America, including Count Basie, George Benson, Art Blakey, Dave Brubeck, Betty Carter, Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis, Roy Eldridge, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Herbie Hancock, Elvin Jones, John Levy, Abbey Lincoln, Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, Cecil Taylor, Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson, and Teddy Wilson.
About NEA Jazz Masters: NEA Jazz Masters are selected from nominations submitted by the public and receive a one-time fellowship award of $25,000, are honored at a public awards ceremony, and may participate in NEA-sponsored promotional, performance, and educational activities. Only living musicians or jazz advocates may be nominated for the NEA Jazz Masters honor.

The National Endowment for the Arts has supported jazz artists and organizations since 1969, providing millions of dollars in grants and awards. In 2004, the NEA significantly expanded its NEA Jazz Masters program and in 2005 created the NEA Jazz Masters Initiative, a comprehensive program of jazz support that includes the NEA Jazz Masters Award; NEA Jazz Masters Live, a series of multiple performance and educational engagements in selected communities, featuring NEA Jazz Masters; radio programming featuring NEA Jazz Masters; educational resources through the NEA Jazz in the Schools program produced by the Arts Endowment in partnership with Jazz at Lincoln Center; and publications and reports. For more information on NEA Jazz Masters, the public is invited to visit the website, at

Jazz at Lincoln Center is dedicated to inspiring and growing audiences for jazz. With the world-renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and a comprehensive array of guest artists, Jazz at Lincoln Center advances a unique vision for the continued development of the art of jazz by producing a year-round schedule of performance, education and broadcast events for audiences of all ages. These productions include concerts, national and international tours, residencies, yearly hall of fame inductions, weekly national radio and television programs, recordings, publications, an annual high school jazz band competition and festival, a band director academy, jazz appreciation curriculum for students, music publishing, children’s concerts, lectures, adult education courses, student and educator workshops and interactive websites. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis, Chairman Lisa Schiff and Executive Director, Adrian Ellis, Jazz at Lincoln Center produces thousands of events each season in its home in New York City, Frederick P. Rose Hall, and around the world. For more information visit

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