BMI partnered with the National Endowment for the Arts and its Chairman Rocco Landesman to celebrate the 2011 Class of NEA Jazz Masters at a luncheon at Jazz at Lincoln Center on January 11. In addition to the Marsalis family, BMI composers Hubert Laws and Dave Liebman were honored along with legendary composer and producers Johnny Mandel and Orrin Keepnews.
“I am really pleased to continue the tradition we began three years ago in partnering with the National Endowment for the Arts to sponsor this luncheon celebrating the NEA Jazz Masters,” said Bryant at the ceremony. “It seems like such a natural partnership for BMI because jazz has been in our DNA since we opened our doors in 1940. We are proud that among the first writers and composers that BMI signed were Lester Young and Billie Holiday, followed quickly by a galaxy of immensely talented young composer/artists who would define this art form for the ages, including Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Max Roach, Miles, Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, among many others.
“This room is filled with two more generations of America’s most respected and admired jazz composers,” he continued, “and we are deeply honored to represent so many of you, including several who will be officially inducted today.”
The Jazz Master designation is the highest honor accorded by the United States for achievement in jazz. More than 40 Jazz Masters attended the reunion luncheon including legendary BMI composer/artists David Baker, Kenny Barron, Ron Carter, Jimmy Cobb, Curtis Fuller, Chico Hamilton, Jimmy Heath, Ahmad Jamal, Lee Konitz, Muhal Richard Abrams, Annie Ross, Gunther Schuller, Cedar Walton, Frank Wes, Gerald Wilson, and others.
For more on the 2011 NEA Jazz Masters, please visit www.nea.gov.