Chicago impresario Joe Segal has been selected as one of four 2015 NEA Jazz Masters, announced on June 25 in Washington, D.C., by the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA annually recognizes a new crop of Jazz Masters for their lifetime achievements and exceptional contributions to the advancement of jazz.
Along with Segal, the this year’s honorees include composer-instrumentalist bandleader Carla Bley, saxophonist-composer-educator George Coleman and saxophonist-flutist-composer Charles Lloyd. Segal, 88, the longtime owner and operator of the Jazz Showcase, the city’s premier jazz club, now at 806 S. Plymouth Court, receives the 2015 A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Award for Jazz Advocacy, given for contributing significantly to the appreciation, knowledge and advancement of the art form of jazz.
Segal is no stranger to Symphony Center, where in 2006, he received a 70th anniversary tribute as a presenter, headlined by jazz greats Yusef Lateef, Jimmy Heath, Lou Donaldson, James Moody, Junior Mance and Von Freeman. In addition, Lloyd has performed here as part of the Symphony Center Presents Jazz Series.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Segal said, “I’m very appreciative of [the NEA honor]. I’m glad they didn’t wait till I was gone.” Each winner will receive $25,000 and will be saluted at an awards ceremony at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York on April 20, 2015. The concert will be streamed live on arts.gov and jalc.org/liv.
Along with the Jazz Master honors, the NEA also announced this year’s recipients of the NEA National Heritage Fellowships, which celebrate artistic excellence and artists’ efforts to conserve American culture for future generations. The winners are Henry Arquette, a Mohawk basket-maker based in Hogansburg, N.Y.; Tejano musician and singer Manuel “Cowboy” Donley of Austin, Texas; Irish step dancer Kevin Doyle of Barrington, R.I.; blues/gospel/R&B band the Holmes Brothers of Rosedale, Md., and Saluda, Va.; Odawa quill artist Yvonne Walker Keshick of Petoskey, Mich.; quilter Carolyn Mazloomi of West Chester, Ohio; Ukrainian embroiderer and bead worker Vera Nakonechny of Philadelphia; the roots groups the Singing & Praying Bands of Maryland and Delaware, and traditional singer-bandleader Rufus White of Omaha, Neb.