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Old 08-20-2010   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Pennsylania
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Default NEA Travesty

Recently sent to NEA

To whom it may concern,

I was absolutely thrilled when I was named a 2007 NEA Jazz Master. Just to be considered with musicians like Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and Dave Brubeck was beyond my wildest dreams as a young musician coming up through the ranks. But to quote an old standard "The Thrill Is Gone.” I can understand your reluctance to award the NEA Jazz Masters award posthumously; what I can't understand is your naming a whole family as Jazz Masters. It makes no sense musically and as good as the Marsalis family may be, in my mind they are not the equals of the aforementioned giants. I think you have set a ridiculous precedent.
What I find most disturbing is the new Marsalis Family CD (the release date is Aug 24 - ads are already running in the jazz magazines) with the profits going to the “Ellis Marsalis Center for Music.” This smacks of exploiting the NEA to maximize profit. I’m sure it is a worthy cause but find it troublesome. I have been the recipient of NEA largesse when they underwrote our production of my Children’s Suite in New Orleans earlier this year but this was a one-time event that was largely ignored in The Big Easy. As a matter of fact I used a good portion of my $25,000 honorarium to record a CD and DVD as well as present the Suite at our annual Celebration of the Arts (COTA) Jazz Festival.

So as a matter of protest I will not be attending any further NEA Jazz Master events. You have tarnished the value of what was once considered one of America’s greatest symbols of achievement in jazz.
Phil Woods
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Old 08-20-2010   #2
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Default Amen!

You tell 'em, Phil!

"... trying to play clean and looking for the pretty notes." -- Charlie Parker
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Old 08-21-2010   #3
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Old 08-23-2010   #4
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I've already told my Delfeayo Marsalis story -- and sworn that I would stop rehashing my fleeting brush with greatness -- so I'll refrain from repeating it. But truly, the mind boggles at such an award.

John "Urbie" Kafalas
Boston --> Chicago --> Flagstaff --> Providence
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Old 08-25-2010   #5
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Phil, you have my full support on this.

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Old 08-25-2010   #6
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Phil, please post the NEA's response to your letter, if they provide one. Also, perhaps you should post your letter on your home page to to give it more visibility.
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