BMI composers George Benson (guitarist), Jimmy Cobb (drummer), Lee Konitz (saxophonist) and Toots Thielemans (multi-instrumentalist) have been named recipients of the 2009 NEA Jazz Masters Award by the National Endowment for the Arts. The honorees will each receive a $25,000 grant award and will be honored in an awards ceremony and concert on October 17.
Additional honorees include recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder and trumpeter Snooky Young. This year’s honorees join jazz legends such as Count Basie, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Herbie Hancock.
The October ceremony and concert, sponsored by the NEA and Jazz at Lincoln Center, will be held at Frederick P. Rose Hall in New York, and will feature the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.
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 event engagements in selected communities, featuring NEA Jazz Masters; radio programming featuring NEA Jazz Masters; a compilation CD produced by Verve Music Group; educational resources through the NEA Jazz in the Schools program produced by Jazz at Lincoln Center; and publications and reports.