Grammys are one thing. But being named an NEA Jazz Master is an even bigger honor, arguably the most prestigious prize in the jazz world. That’s the latest accolade for Windom, Minn., native Maria Schneider, the distinguished jazz composer, arranger and orchestra leader.
The University of Minnesota graduate, who lives in New York City, was recognized on Wednesday by the National Endowment for the Arts along with pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, composer/singer/pianist Bob Dorough and jazz historian/critic Stanley Crouch. The once-in-a-lifetime fellowship includes up to $25,000.
"I'm deeply honored, excited, and absolutely amazed," Schneider, 57, a five-time Grammy winner, said in a statement. "I've seen so many of my heroes receive this honor in the past. It inspires me to do more - much much more. There's a heck of a lot to live up to in this club."
Of Schneider, the NEA wrote:
Schneider’s music has been hailed by critics as “evocative,” “majestic,” “heart-stoppingly gorgeous,” and “beyond categorization.” Primarily known for her highly original and provocative big band compositions written over the past three decades, she is unique in having written classical works as well, even stepping into rock through a collaboration with David Bowie.
Since 1982, 153 jazz luminaries, including Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and Chick Corea, have been selected NEA Jazz Masters.
The new masters will be honored at a concert in April at Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.