NEA Jazz Masters: Carla Bley


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The National Endowment for the Arts has announced next year’s NEA Jazz Masters. They are composer, pianist,arranger and bandleader Carla Bley (pictured); saxophonists George Coleman and Charles Lloyd; and—for jazz advocacy—Joe Segal, whose Jazz Showcase in Chicago has presented the music for more than 60 years. They will receive their awards at Lincoln Center in New York City on April 20, 2015, during Jazz Appreciation Month.How better to recognize them now than to share memorable performances? Over the next few days, Rifftides will bring you videos of the honorees, beginning with Carla Bley.

Immersed in jazz since her teens, Ms. Bley quickly developed into a composer and arranger of striking originality, boldness and humor. She continues to write for groups ranging from duos to big bands. As leader, arranger, composer and pianist she has collaborated with or written for, among others, Paul Bley, Gary Burton, Art Farmer, George Russell, Tony Williams and, in dozens of projects over the years, electric bassist Steve Swallow. Here she is with Swallow and saxophonist Andy Sheppard at the 2012 Cully Jazz Festival in the Normandy region of France, playing “Útviklingsaang,” first recorded on her 1977 Social Studies album.

For a biography of Carla Bley, go here. Since the program began in 1982, there have been 140 NEA Jazz Masters. The first three were Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie and Sun Ra. To see the complete list, go here.

Next time: George Coleman

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