In June of 2013, the National Endowment for the Arts named Richard Davis, professor of bass, jazz history, and combo improvisation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, one of four 2014 NEA Jazz Masters. This award is considered one of the highest honors in jazz. Each year since 1982, the Arts Endowment has conferred the NEA Jazz Masters Award to living legends who have made major contributions to jazz. Only living musicians or jazz advocates may be nominated for the NEA Jazz Masters honor. For the 2014 NEA Jazz Masters, the panel considered 144 nominations.
Trumpet player Wynton Marsalis co-hosted the event, filled with performances by and tributes to top jazz musicians. In addition to Davis, honorees included pianist Keith Jarrett, educator Jamey Aebersold and saxophone player Anthony Braxton.
Recognizing his lifetime achievements and exceptional contributions to the advancement of jazz, Davis received a one-time award of $25,000. For more on the ceremony and concert, musician line-up and Davis, see here.
Prof. Davis has taught at UW-Madison since 1977, and has performed with the likes of Sarah Vaughan and Leonard Bernstein. He has helped to transform the lives of many students at UW-Madison, and still coaches the Black Music Ensemble, a group of musicians and singers who perform the music of black composers.
Also attending this event was WORT’s very own Steve Braunginn, host of Strictly Jazz Sounds, representing the Greater Madison Jazz Consortium and WORT.
On Monday, Jan. 13, the NEA streamed the Jazz Masters awards ceremony and concert live from Lincoln Center in New York City. You can watch the archive of the awards ceremony and concert online here [Richard’s award segment begins at the 2 hour 5 minute mark]: