The National Endowment for the Arts recently announced the selection of four men as 2014 NEA Jazz Masters, the nation’s highest honor in the field of jazz. The Jazz Masters awards were established in 1982 and honor living musicians or advocates for jazz. To date, 131 Jazz Masters have been honored by the National Endowment for the Arts.
The four recipients will be honored at a ceremony and concert next January at Lincoln Center in New York City. Recipients receive a cash award of $25,000. Two of the four recipients are Black musicians with ties to the academic world.
Richard Davis is a professor of bass, jazz history, and combo improvisation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has served on the faculty at the university since 1977. A native of Chicago, he studied bass at the VanderCook College of Music before moving to New York City to pursue a career in music. He toured with Sarah Vaughan and was a member of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra.
Anthony Braxton is the John Spencer Camp Professor of Music at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. Professor Braxton is a composer, saxophonist, and educator. He won a MacArthur Foundation genius award in 1994. During his long career, he has released more than 100 albums.
Professor Braxton is also a Chicago native and attended the Chicago School of Music and went on to study philosophy and composition at Roosevelt University. Earlier this year, he received the $225,000 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award for his lifetime achievements in jazz.