"I'm honored to be chosen by the NEA to receive the Jazz Master Fellowship Award and join the illustrious alumni who have received this award."
Bobby Hutcherson's sound and innovative style on the vibraphone helped revitalize the instrument in the 1960s, adding an adventurous new voice to the free jazz and post bop eras.
As a child, Hutcherson studied piano with his aunt, but his interest in becoming a professional musician was sparked after hearing vibist Milt Jackson playing on a recording of the Thelonious Monk song "Bemsha Swing." Jackson's playing impressed him so much that he began working with his father (a brick mason) to save up money for a vibraphone. Studies under renowned vibraphonist Dave Pike followed, and soon Hutcherson played at local Los Angeles school dances in his friend Herbie Lewis' group.
In 1960, Hutcherson joined an ensemble co-led by Al Grey and Billy Mitchell. A year later, the group performed at New York's legendary Birdland club and the vibraphonist made his first live appearance opposite bassist Charles Mingus. Hutcherson soon relocated to New York City and signed with the Blue Note label. According to Hutcherson's own account, he made 45 records as a bandleader and appeared on more than 250 records as a sideman during his years with Blue Note -- working with jazz luminaries such as Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, Jackie McLean, and McCoy Tyner, among others. His work on Eric Dolphy's recording Out to Lunch is considered one of his most masterful sideman performances, providing a vibrant texture to the piano-less quintet. In 1965, Blue Note released his astounding debut record as a bandleader, Dialogue. Hutcherson was accompanied on the album by some of the biggest names emerging in jazz at the time: drummer Joe Chambers, bassist Richard Davis, pianist Andrew Hill, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, and saxophonist Sam Rivers.
In 1967, he returned to California and co-lead a quintet with saxophonist Harold Land for several years. Hutcherson eventually settled in Montara, a small coastal town south of San Francisco, where he continues to live. Hutcherson is a founding member of the SFJAZZ Collective, an all-star octet that debuted in 2004. In 2008, Hutcherson was the recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the Sedona Jazz on the Rocks festival in Arizona.
In addition to his own recordings and tours, Hutcherson also appears on other artists' records, including Tyner's Manhattan Moods (1993) and Hammond B-3 organist Joey DeFrancesco's Organic Vibes (2006). Hutcherson continues to perform at a masterful level on his instrument, playing with both his contemporaries and the new generation of jazz musicians.
"I am humbled to be included among the great musicians in our American history. I express my gratitude to these Jazz Giants, many of whom were close friends, who shaped this great American art form called Jazz and ultimately helped to shape my life as well. I thank the NEA committee for recognizing America’s Jazz Masters and the Art of Jazz itself and I am honored and privileged to be a part of this legacy."
The second of the illustrious Heath Brothers to receive an NEA Jazz Master Fellowship (bassist Percy received the award in 2002), Jimmy was the first Heath to choose music as a career path. Starting on alto saxophone (and acquiring the nickname "Little Bird" due to the influence Charlie "Yardbird" Parker had on his style), one of his first professional jobs came in 1945-46 in the Midwest territory band led by Nat Towles, out of Omaha, Nebraska. Returning to Philadelphia, he briefly led his own big band with a saxophone section that included John Coltrane and Benny Golson -- also products of the city's jazz scene. Gigs followed with Howard McGhee in 1948 and with Dizzy Gillespie's big band from 1949-50.
In the early 1950s, Heath switched to tenor sax and briefly occupied Coltrane's place in Miles Davis' band in 1959. In the 1960s, he began his own recordings as a leader, and frequently teamed up with Milt Jackson and Art Farmer. By that time he had honed his talent as a composer and arranger, creating such widely performed compositions as "Gingerbread Boy" and "C.T.A." By combining his versatile style of performing and his outstanding writing and arranging abilities, he has set a high standard of accomplishment in the jazz field. He has made more than 100 recordings and composed more than 100 original works.
As an educator, Heath has taught at Jazzmobile, Housatonic Community College, City College of New York, and Queens College, where he retired from full-time teaching in 1998. He holds honorary degrees from Sojourner-Douglass College and the Juilliard School, and has a chair endowed in his name at Queens College. Currently, he is serving on the board of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.
Since the mid-1970s, Jimmy had been teaming up with brothers Percy and Albert "Tootie" as the Heath Brothers, a band which also at times included contributions from Jimmy's son, the noted percussionist, composer, and rhythm-and-blues producer, Mtume. In addition, he has performed with other jazz greats, such as Slide Hampton and Wynton Marsalis, and indulged in his continuing interest in the dynamics of arranging for big band. He remains active as an educator, saxophonist, and composer.
"Thank goodness for the NEA for helping to keep jazz alive. A special thanks to Jimmy Heath and everyone."
Slide Hampton's distinguished career spans decades in the evolution of jazz. At the age of 12 he was already touring the Midwest with the Indianapolis-based Hampton Band, led by his father and comprising other members of his musical family. By 1952, at the age of 20, he was performing at Carnegie Hall with the Lionel Hampton Band. He then joined Maynard Ferguson's band, playing trombone and providing exciting charts on such popular tunes as "The Fugue," "Three Little Foxes," and "Slide's Derangement."
As his reputation grew, he soon began working with bands led by Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, Barry Harris, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, and Max Roach, again contributing both original compositions and arrangements. In 1962, he formed the Slide Hampton Octet, which included stellar horn players Booker Little, Freddie Hubbard, and George Coleman. The band toured the U.S. and Europe and recorded on several labels.
From 1964 to 1967, he served as music director for various orchestras and artists. Then, following a 1968 tour with Woody Herman, he elected to stay in Europe, performing with other expatriates such as Benny Bailey, Kenny Clarke, Kenny Drew, Art Farmer, and Dexter Gordon. Upon returning to the U.S. in 1977, he began a series of master classes at Harvard, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, De Paul University in Chicago, and Indiana University. During this period he formed the illustrious World of Trombones: an ensemble of nine trombones and a rhythm section.
In 1989, with Paquito D'Rivera, he was musical director of Dizzy's Diamond Jubilee, a year-long series of celebrations honoring Dizzy Gillespie's 75th birthday. Slide Hampton's countless collaborations with the most prominent musicians of jazz were acknowledged by the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Arrangement with a Vocalist. Most recently, he has served as musical advisor to the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band. A charismatic figure, master arranger, and formidable trombonist, Slide Hampton holds a place of distinction in the jazz tradition.
"I'm honored and grateful for being selected for this outstanding award. I consider it an outstanding pleasure, as well as being hopeful to live up to this the Jazz Master Fellowship Award."
One of the great hard bop pianists, Cedar Walton is also known for his compositions, some of which have become jazz standards, such as "Bolivia," "Clockwise," and "Firm Roots."
Cedar Walton was first taught piano by his mother, and, after high school, moved to Colorado to commence studies at the University of Denver. There, during after-hours jazz club gigs, he met musicians such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and John Coltrane, who would sit in with Walton's group as they traveled through town.
Eventually, Walton moved to New York. In 1955, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and sent to Germany where he performed in a military jazz ensemble. Upon his return to New York City two years later, he began playing and recording with Kenny Dorham, J. J. Johnson, and Gigi Gryce. In 1959, he recorded with Coltrane on his seminal album Giant Steps, but the recordings weren't included on the initial issue of the album; the alternate tracks were later issued on the CD version. From 1960-61, Walton worked with Art Farmer and Benny Golson's band Jazztet.
Walton's next significant musical association was with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. During his years with Blakey (1961-64), Walton stepped forward as composer, contributing originals such as "Mosaic," "Ugetsu," and "The Promised Land" to the group's repertoire. Walton left the Jazz Messengers to lead rhythm sections and trios featured in various New York clubs and work as a sideman for well-known artists such as Abbey Lincoln (1965-66) and Lee Morgan (1966-68).
In 1974, Walton formed the group Eastern Rebellion with bassist Sam Jones, drummer Billy Higgins, and saxophonist Clifford Jordan, which would perform and record sporadically over the subsequent two decades. Other musicians rotated in and out of the band, including George Coleman, Bob Berg, Ralph Moore, David Williams, Curtis Fuller, and Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros. Higgins became a regular accompanist for Walton throughout the 1980s -- along with other stellar musicians such as Ron Carter, Bobby Hutcherson, Harold Land, and Buster Williams. In addition, he continued to perform in rhythm sections for Milt Jackson, Frank Morgan, and Dexter Gordon and accompanied vocalists Ernestine Anderson and Freddy Cole. He also led the backup trio for the Trumpet Summit Band, which started as a project for the 1995 Jazz in Marciac festival in France. He continues to perform and record with his own groups all over the world.
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Added by Yoshis on February 13, 2010