The Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Series for Artistic Excellence
Jazz in Our Time All-Star Opening Night Concert and Award Ceremony

Mar 3, 2007 at 7:00 PM
Concert Hall
Stage Director: John Vreeke

For the 2006–2007 season, the Kennedy Center will host a spectacular salute to a generation of extraordinary artists who have helped make jazz "America's greatest music." Over eight days in March, Jazz in Our Time will bring together an unprecedented number of jazz icons all under one roof. The celebration will begin with a special concert, hosted by James Earl Jones, to honor these Living Jazz Legends with a Kennedy Center award for their lifetime of contributions to the art form. Performances by some of these jazz stars will follow during the celebration, along with many other exciting events.
The festivities kick off with this once-in-a-lifetime all-star event hosted by Tony winner and Kennedy Center Honoree James Earl Jones. During the concert, more than 25 jazz luminaries will be honored with the Kennedy Center "Living Jazz Legend Award" (see below for recipients). Performers will include vocalist Nancy Wilson with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, the Clayton Brothers Quintet, drummer T.S. Monk, violinist Regina Carter, and many others. Part of Jazz in Our Time.

Award recipients include:

Toshiko Akiyoshi, David Baker, Louie Bellson, Dave Brubeck, Donald Byrd, Ornette Coleman,
Paquito D'Rivera, Sir John Dankworth, Buddy DeFranco, Frank Foster, Curtis Fuller, Benny Golson,
Chico Hamilton, Barry Harris, Jimmy Heath, Jon Hendricks, Freddie Hubbard, Ahmad Jamal,
Al Jarreau, Hank Jones, Dame Cleo Laine, Michel Legrand, Abbey Lincoln, Wynton Marsalis,
Marian McPartland, James Moody, George Russell, Jimmy Scott, Dr. Billy Taylor, Cecil Taylor, 
Clark Terry, Frank Wess, Gerald Wilson, Nancy Wilson, and Phil Woods.

Music That Gets Better With Time

Kennedy Center Spotlights Jazz Luminaries, Alive and Well

By Matt Schudel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 3, 2007; Page C01

In August 1958, photographer Art Kane asked dozens of jazz musicians to meet on 126th Street in Harlem at, for them, the unholy hour of 10 a.m. "I didn't know there were two 10 o'clocks in the same day," one musician joked.

After the picture Kane took was printed in Esquire in 1959, it was all but forgotten until 1994, when it was revived in Jean Bach's Oscar-nominated documentary, "A Great Day in Harlem." Today just seven of the 57 musicians in the photograph are still alive, and three of them -- saxophonist Benny Golson and pianists Marian McPartland and Hank Jones -- will be in Washington for an eight-day celebration, Jazz in Our Time, that begins tonight at the Kennedy Center.

Marian McPartland with the 1958 photo that she calls "the greatest jazz photograph ever." Two other surviving musicians from the group, Hank Jones, top right, and Benny Golson, are featured in a Kennedy Center jazz festival. (By R.j. Capak)

It will stand as one of the city's most ambitious and illustrious jazz events ever. Golson, McPartland and Jones are scheduled to perform in the coming week and are among among 35 musicians who will receive Living Jazz Legend Awards at the kickoff gala. On March 10, Bach will present a special screening of her film about Kane's photograph, which has become a touchstone of music and memory.

"In retrospect," McPartland says, "that was the greatest jazz photograph ever."

By 1958, when such giants as Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Mary Lou Williams, Charles Mingus, Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young gathered on that Harlem street, jazz was already being replaced in the public imagination by the loud, rebellious sounds of rock-and-roll. Yet in spite of its shrinking slice of the market, jazz continues to endure, seemingly of its own will. One secret of its survival may be that jazz is an exception to our culture's obsession with youth. It is an art form in which age brings mastery.

That's why pianist Billy Taylor, artistic adviser to the Kennedy Center, and Michael Kaiser, the center's president, decided to honor some notable creators of the music while they're still with us. Among the legends being feted are saxophonists Ornette Coleman and James Moody; trumpeters Freddie Hubbard and Clark Terry; pianists Dave Brubeck, Barry Harris and Ahmad Jamal; and singers Jon Hendricks, Cleo Laine, Abbey Lincoln and Nancy Wilson.

"The Kennedy Center has never had anything of this scope for this length of time," says Kevin A. Struthers, the center's manager of jazz programming. "This is a one-time-only celebration."

When the honorees were young, jazz was almost an outlaw music, scorned by adults and academics. It took an act of rebellion, or at least a blind leap of faith, for Golson, McPartland and Jones to pursue the jazz life. If they followed different paths, there is one thing on which they all agree: They didn't choose jazz -- jazz chose them.