The application period for the Vail Jazz Workshop has been extended to April 22. The Vail workshop boasts an amazing alumni roster over the past nearly 30 years, under the direction of John Clayton. The students who get chosen for the mid-August camp in the mountains will perform with the professionals at the Vail Jazz Party over Labor Day weekend. (SOURCE: Vail Jazz Workshop)

The National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Fellowships were distributed on Saturday night at the Kennedy Center, to Gary Bartz, Amina Claudine Myers, Terence Blanchard, and historian, radio host, and DC Jazz Festival producer Willard Jenkins.

Gary Bartz urged the NEA to stay connected to the community. “The African-American community knew who Louis Jordan, Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, they knew who Duke Ellington was before America knew, so they were the first gatekeepers. So you (the NEA) have a really serious, hard job to do. Just keep in contact with the African-American community, and you’ll know who the masters are.”

Terence Blanchard, coming off his second Grammy for an opera, put his musical work into perspective. “…how music can go beyond language – it can go beyond cultures. It can go beyond countries and touch people in ways that sometimes, you know, our debates can’t. Once Hurricane Katrina hit, it turned my life around in terms of why I create music. When I was a young kid (with Art Blakey), I was just trying to belong, and I was trying to prove I belonged and I was worthy of the accolades that were given to me when I was a young musician. But now it’s really about trying to help people heal.”

The entire two-hour program is posted on the NEA’s YouTube channel. (SOURCE: NEA 2024 Jazz Masters/YouTube/watch)

There at the Kennedy Center, Lakecia Benjamin was the music director for the event, where she counts Gary Bartz – also an alto saxophonist – Terence Blanchard, Amina Claudine Myers, and Willard Jenkins among her mentors.

Lakecia Benjamin is in a happy place these days. She’s just coming off a sold-out European tour with another one of her mentors, Dee Dee Bridgewater. (SOURCE: Lakecia Benjamin)

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