Every year since 1982, the National Endowment For the Arts has inducted a new class of NEA Jazz Masters, honoring lifetime achievement across a broad range of personalities and backgrounds. The 2018 class is no exception, as we'll see during a tribute concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. next Monday, which will be streamed live on this page.
The senior member among this year's inductees is Joanne Brackeen, 79, a virtuoso pianist with a discography stretching back to the mid-'70s. Just behind her is the presenter and producer Todd Barkan, 71, who first made his mark as owner of the prominent San Francisco club Keystone Korner. (A fine recent archival release, Moments in Time, captures Brackeen at Keystone Korner in 1976, as a member of the Stan Getz Quartet.).
The guitarist Pat Metheny and the singer Dianne Reeves hail from a younger jazz generation — she is 61, he's 63 — and they share the rare ability to make an imposing technical command feel natural, even easeful. Each has been a paragon and a popularizer, reaching beyond the straight-ahead jazz perimeter to connect with Brazilian music, adult pop and much else besides.
Reeves, Metheny, Brackeen and Barkan will be honored during the NEA Jazz Masters ceremony in words, with short films and of course, in performance. Among the musicians taking part in this concert are pianist (and NEA Jazz Master) Eddie Palmieri, bassist (and Jazz Night in America host) Christian McBride, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and singers Angelique Kidjo and Cécile McLorin Salvant.