When the National Endowment for the Arts announced its 2020 Jazz Masters Fellowship honorees last year, the Bay Area’s music community geared up to honor them at SFJAZZ with a concert and ceremony. Because of the pandemic, that celebration now taking place online.
Two of the four recipients of the prestigious honor and $25,000 grant made a deep impact on the Bay Area’s jazz scene. Saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell was a key figure in Chicago’s avant-garde jazz circles in the ’60s with the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and taught at Mills College’s until he retired in 2018. Bobby McFerrin, best known for the pop hit “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” is a 10-time Grammy-winning jazz vocalist who started his career in San Francisco. The other 2020 honorees are bassist Reggie Workman, best known for his work with John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk, and Dorthaan Kirk from Newark Public Radio.
Tonight at 5pm PDT, the celebration of the 2020 NEA Jazz Masters will stream on YouTube as a one-time-only concert hosted by the NEA and SFJAZZ. In addition to the honorees, acclaimed jazz musicians Christian McBride, Lisa Fischer, Ambrose Akinmusire, James Carter, Gerald Clayton, Vincent Davis, Oliver Lake, Taylor McFerrin and others will perform. 2017 NEA Jazz Master Dee Dee Bridgewater will host the event, which was coordinated by music director, drummer and composer Terri Lyne Carrington. A Q&A with SFJAZZ founder and executive artistic director Randall Kline will follow.
Watch the concert below or on the NEA’s YouTube channel.