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NEA Jazz Masters Announces a Date For Its 2021 Ceremony

The 2021 NEA Jazz Masters class: Terri Lyne Carrington, Albert "Tootie" Heath, Henry Threadgill and Phil Schaap
National Endowment For the Arts
The 2021 NEA Jazz Masters class: Terri Lyne Carrington, Albert "Tootie" Heath, Henry Threadgill and Phil Schaap

The 2021 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert — honoring Albert “Tootie” Heath, Henry Threadgill, Terri Lyne Carrington and Phil Schaap — will take place on Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 8 p.m. EDT.

Presented by the National Endowment for the Arts in collaboration with SFJAZZ, this virtual event will feature prerecorded performances and tributes by an array of prominent jazz artists. The event's hosts are Dee Dee Bridgewater, 2017 NEA Jazz Master, and Delroy Lindo, an actor critically acclaimed for his role in Da 5 Bloods.

Carrington served as musical director of the 2020 NEA Jazz Masters ceremony and concert, but as an inductee this year she is naturally free of that responsibility; it falls instead to alto saxophonist and composer Miguel Zenón, a longtime member of the SFJAZZ Collective. The concert will be available to watch online, at WBGO and elsewhere, free of charge.

“As part of our efforts to give all Americans access to the arts we are proud to partner with SFJAZZ on this virtual concert,” NEA Acting Chairman Ann Eilers notes in a press statement. “It is an opportunity for audiences around the world to tune in and explore the honorees’ many contributions to jazz while also experiencing an evening of performances by an incredible line-up of jazz musicians.”

Among the confirmed performers are several past NEA Jazz Masters: singer Dianne Reeves, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and drummer and vibraphonist Jason Marsalis. Other performers include singer Lizz Wright, saxophonist Joe Lovano, pianists Danilo Pérez and David Virelles, percussionist Pedrito Martínez, and bassist Linda May Han Oh. The ceremony will also include video testimonials by NEA Jazz Masters Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Charles Lloyd, among others.

The virtual presentation — a byproduct of pandemic realities — echoes a model from last year, when the honorees included WBGO's own Dorthaan Kirk, Bobby McFerrin, Reggie Workman and Roscoe Mitchell.

2020 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert

And as he did last year, SFJAZZ founder and executive artistic director Randall Kline will host a "Meet the Jazz Masters" discussion following the ceremony.

For more information about the 2021 NEA Jazz Masters, read our nominee announcement, and visit the NEA online.

Nate Chinen