Tuesday, September 13, 2005

National Endowment For The Arts Honors Seven Jazz Greats

National Endowment For The ArtsSeven jazz legends are being recognized by the U.S. government for their achievements.

Singer Tony Bennett, keyboardist Chick Corea and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard are among those named Jazz Masters by the National Endowment for the Arts and awarded $25,000 fellowships.

The other recipients are percussionist Ray Barretto, composer Bob Brookmeyer, clarinetist Buddy DeFranco and New Orleans-born manager John Levy, honoured as a jazz advocate.

"Jazz is one of the great, truly native American art forms," said the endowment's head, Dana Gioia. "Along with the movies, it's probably the art that the rest of the world associates most deeply with America."

"It's important that America recognizes its own great artists while they're still alive" Gioia said in a telephone interview Monday. He noted the poignancy of naming the honourees after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the "cradle of Jazz," New Orleans.

The NEA has named 87 Jazz Masters since the program began in 1982. Artists and advocates are nominated by the public. The program is sponsored by Verizon Communications Inc., which has given about $300,000 US, the agency said.

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