Since 1982, the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded annual Jazz Masters Fellowships—"the highest honor that our nation bestows upon jazz musicians. These fellowships are given in recognition that this magnificent art form, so profoundly based in American culture, is one of America's greatest gifts to the world."
NEA Jazz Masters with NEC affiliations
Dave Holland (class of 2017)
Holland was a full-time member of NEC's jazz faculty from 1987 through 1990, then returned beginning in 2005 as Visiting Artist-in-Residence. Each semester, he visits NEC for an intensive week of masterclasses, coachings, rehearsals, and performances with NEC students, drawing on his own award-winning catalogue of compositions as well as other artists with whom he has deep-rooted associations. NEC honorary Doctor of Music, 2003.
Gunther Schuller (class of 2008)
Schuller was New England Conservatory's president from 1967 through 1977, and founded NEC's jazz and Third Stream programs. NEC honorary Doctor of Music, 1978.
Bob Brookmeyer (class of 2006)
Brookmeyer taught at NEC from 1997 through 2007, and founded NEC's Jazz Composers' Workshop Orchestra.
Ron Carter (class of 1998)
Carter taught at NEC from 1996 through 1999, as Artistic Director of the Thelonious Monk Institute for Jazz Performance at NEC.
George Russell (class of 1990)
NEC faculty from 1969 through 2004, Distinguished Artist-in-Residence Emeritus, NEC honorary Doctor of Music, 2005
Cecil Taylor '51 DP (class of 1990)
Pianist noted for unique improvisational style and wide-ranging collaborations.