National Endowment for the Arts has announced Jazz Masters Class of 2022 — and it represents the broad swath of blues-based, boundary-pushing music that has been created over the past 50 years under the label of Jazz.
NEA said Tuesday that the new Jazz Masters are bassist Stanley Clark, drummer Billy Hart, vocalist Cassandra Wilson and saxophonist Donald Harrison Jr. He will be honored in April 2022 at a ceremony at the SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco. . The Jazz Masters Award is the highest national honor given to living American jazz musicians, and comes with a $25,000 cash prize.
Clark, 70, is best known as a founding member of the seminal jazz-rock fusion band Return to Forever, although he has also enjoyed a vibrant career as a solo artist. Hart, 80, can be heard on timeless recordings by Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and others. In recent decades, their quartet has often been hailed as one of the leading bands in jazz.
Wilson’s husky, vocal style and passion for scrambling styles made him one of the leading jazz singers of the 1990s. Both Wilson and Clark, now 65, are multi-Grammy winners.
Harrison grew up in New Orleans, steeped in the city’s Black musical heritage, and after gaining national recognition in the 1980s and 1990s, he recommended developing his hometown scene through activism and education work. . Harrison will be this year’s recipient of the Abby Spelman Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy, which the NEA typically gives to non-musicians.