The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has named The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music core faculty member Jimmy Owens a 2012 Jazz Master and the recipient of the A.B. Spellman Award for Jazz Advocacy. Called the nation’s highest honor in jazz,, the Jazz Master title has been bestowed upon greats including Count Basie, Ahmad Jamal, Sun Ra and Sarah Vaughan.
Owens is a celebrated trumpeter and composer, who has played alongside Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, and Dizzy Gillespie. In addition, Owens has served the jazz community as a committed educator and a tireless campaigner for both the music and its artists. His efforts are exemplified by his involvement in the Jazz Musicians’ Emergency Fund, an organization committed to assisting musicians with medical and living expenses. The Fund, of which Jimmy was a founding member, has been particularly active in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina, having helped over 1000 musicians in that city find housing, medical care, and food.
It is an incredible honor to be named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, Class of 2012. Specifically, I am deeply gratified to be the recipient of the AB Spellman Award for my advocacy on behalf of Jazz artists and the Jazz Community,, says Owens. As a Jazz artist, I have seen first-hand the many challenges of those in the Jazz Community over a long period of time. Additionally, Donald Byrd, Randy Weston, and Billy Taylor provided a solid base of important information and knowledge upon which I have been able to build a concept of the importance of being an advocate and acting upon those concepts.,
As The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music looks forward to its 25th anniversary in 2011-2012, Owens’s honor highlights the school’s profound connection to jazz, not only in New York City, but across the country and around the world.
To learn more about Owens, visit his NEA profile page.