Joanne Brackeen

Eric Lee / NPR

Last month, the National Endowment for the Arts crowned four new NEA Jazz Masters, including Todd Barkan, a jazz advocate whose early interest in Latin jazz piano turned into a successful five-decade career as a prominent impresario, club owner and record producer. Guitarist Pat Metheny continues to redefine the parameters of his instrument through innovative technique and signature sound. Pianist Joanne Brackeen's unique style commands attention, and Dianne Reeves has become one of the world's preeminent jazz vocalists, whose genius in retrospect seems ceaseless.

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The 2018 class of NEA Jazz Masters — pianist Joanne Brackeen, promoter Todd Barkan, singer Dianne Reeves and guitarist Pat Metheny — will be inducted in an all-star tribute concert at the Kennedy Center next Monday, April 16. Check back here for a free live stream of the event, which will feature performances by Angelique Kidjo, Eddie Palmieri, Cécile McLorin Salvant and many others. For now, we dedicate this installment of Take Five to the four honorees. 

Jati Lindsay / Courtesy of the Kennedy Center

What are the holidays without Charlie Brown? Nowadays, the quietly elegant and celebratory recordings by pianist Vince Guaraldi have become as much a part of the holidays as the sound of unwrapping presents. And every year we are treated to at least one interpretation of that classic Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack by one of the pianists on NPR's A Jazz Piano Christmas. This year is no exception.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Jazz Masters award, which comes with a $25,000 prize, is widely described as United States' highest honor for jazz. Today, the NEA announced its four newest recipients of the prize: pianist Joanne Brackeen, guitarist Pat Metheny, singer Dianne Reeves and producer Todd Barkan.