Heath, Carrington, Threadgill, Schaap Announced As 2021 NEA Jazz Masters


Drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath is among the 2021 NEA Jazz Masters.

(Photo: Ghylian Bell & Mychal Watts)

The National Endowment for the Arts recently announced the 2021 class of Jazz Masters, which includes drummers Albert “Tootie” Heath and Terri Lyne Carrington, and reedist Henry Threadgill. Radio host Phil Schaap was announced as the next recipient of the A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship for Jazz Advocacy.

“Following up on 2020’s joyful and inspiring virtual concert, we look forward to working with SFJAZZ to celebrate these honorees next April in an evening that will showcase their incredible contributions to jazz,” said Mary Anne Carter, chairperson of the National Endowment for the Arts, in a press release.

Heath—whose brothers were the late saxophonist Jimmy Heath and the late bassist Percy Heath—performed alongside giants of the genre, including John Coltrane, Nina Simone and Dexter Gordon. Carrington, a bandleader, educator and activist, this year topped the DownBeat Critics Poll in the category Jazz Artist; her ensemble Social Science was voted the Jazz Group of the year, and the group’s debut album, Waiting Game, won honors as Jazz Album of the Year in the poll. Threadgill continues to premiere demanding work deep into his 70s and in 2016 was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his album In For A Penny, In For Pound (Pi). Grammy-winner Schaap, for his part, has hosted a jazz show on WKCR for 50 years and founded the educational Swing University initiative at Jazz At Lincoln Center.

A ceremony to celebrate the 2021 nominees is set for April 21, 2021.

The 2020 honorees, who were acknowledged during an online bash, included vocalist Bobby McFerrin, saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell and bassist Reggie Workman, as well as curator/producer Dorthaan Kirk. DB

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