Reggie Workman Named as 2020 NEA Jazz Master

Reggie Workman

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has announced the 2020 class of NEA Jazz Masters, which is described as the “highest honor that our nation bestows on jazz artists.” The 2020 recipients include vocalist Bobby McFerrin, saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell, curator/producer Dorthaan Kirk, and bassist Reggie Workman.

Acting Chairman of the Arts Endowment Mary Anne Carter said, “The 2020 NEA Jazz Masters have made an incredible impact on jazz, whether it’s through their artistic work to expand the musical boundaries of the genre, their educational contributions or their efforts to reach new audiences for jazz.”

Workman is one of the hardest working bassists in jazz history. He’s best known for being a member of the John Coltrane Quartet for the albums Live at the Village Vanguard, My Favorite Things, and Africa/Brass as well as a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers from 1962 to 1964. As the go-to bassist for Blue Note Records throughout the ’60s and early ’70s, Workman appeared on albums by Booker Ervin, Abbey Lincoln, Lee Morgan, Max Roach, Archie Shepp, Wayne Shorter, Mal Waldron, and many more. He has also led his own bands throughout the years and continues to gig today.

His other accomplishments include co-founding the Collective Black Artists, cofounding MADLOM, and working as a professor at the New School’s College of Performing Arts in New York City. His former students are a who’s who of today’s top jazz artists: Avishai Cohen, Robert Glasper, Roy Hargrove, Jose James, and Brad Mehldau, to name a few.

“It is indeed a humbling and inspiring experience to be acknowledged and awarded by the NEA, one of our nation’s most prestigious institutions, which has been known for years to be supportive of this nation’s artists,” the bassist stated. “I am glad to join the illustrious NEA alums as we collectively work toward the world’s harmonious existence through music.”

NEA Jazz Masters Fellowships are up to $25,000 and can be received once in a lifetime. A free concert honoring the 2020 class will take place on April 2, 2020, at the start of Jazz Appreciation month at the SFJAZZ Center’s Robert N. Miner Auditorium in San Francisco.

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  1. Kevin Thorbourne

    As an adviser to the Alice and John Coltrane home, it’s been a great pleasure to work with Reggie Workman and this NEA honor is well deserved.