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Friday, April 27th, 2018

Celebrating International Jazz Day: Jazz at Lincoln Center Announces 2018 Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame Inductees

New York, NY – April 27, 2018 – In recognition of International Jazz Day (celebrated worldwide on April 30), Jazz at Lincoln Center announces the 2018 Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame inductees ranging from an obscure yet monumentally influential bassist to one of American music’s most popular crossover vocalist to a 2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee: Jimmie Blanton, Nat “King” Cole, and Nina Simone.

After gaining the majority popular vote cast by jazz fans around the world, the newest Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame class will be inducted as they are celebrated during curated sets on July 17-19, 2018 at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Broadway at 60th Street, New York, NY.

The Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame honors legendary artists or members of the jazz community based on their singular dedication and outstanding contribution to jazz.  To date, Jazz at Lincoln Center has inducted 54 members into the Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame and will continue to induct new members annually. This year’s inductees were nominated by a committee of select musicians and scholars and voted in by public vote for April, Jazz Appreciation Month. For more information on Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame visit http://academy.jazz.org/hall-of-fame/.

The 2018 EJHF nominees were selected by a Jazz at Lincoln Center-appointed panel which includes Bill Charlap, Aaron Diehl, Jon Faddis, Will Friedwald, Ethan Iverson, Jerome Jennings, Renee Rosnes, Ellen Rowe, Catherine Russell, Bobby Sanabria, Phil Schaap, Loren Schoenberg, Bria Skonberg, Terell Stafford, and Ben Young. The top three nominees, determined by the popular vote, will be inducted into the 2018 EJHF class during the July sets at Dizzy’s Club.


About the 2018 Ertegun Hall of Fame Inductees:


Jimmie Blanton (October 5, 1918 – July 30, 1942)
Entering the Hall of Fame in his centennial year, bassist James “Jimmie” Blanton proved one of the most groundbreaking voices on the string bass in jazz’s history. In his all-too-short 23 years, Blanton sparked a bass revolution, applying formidable pizzicato and arco technique to the instrument to draw the bass from its role as timekeeper, and brought it to the forefront as a solo voice. His astonishing harmonic ear and unerring sense of swing enabled him to create deft and complex contrapuntal lines in the music, while his innovative mind inspired him to take some of jazz’s first bass solos, notably during his time with the Duke Ellington Orchestra from 1939-1941. On group pieces like Jack the Bear or Sepia Panorama, or on duets with Ellington like Plucked Again or Body and Soul, Blanton redefined the possibilities of the bass’ role, and set a template that would be copied for decades to come. Indeed, his contribution to the Ellington Orchestra is so vast and so transformative that this era of the band is often dubbed “The Blanton-Webster Band.” His all-too-short life cut short in 1942 by tuberculosis, Blanton reshaped the history of jazz during his limited years of playing, and his visionary conception of the bass’ role remains felt to this very day.


Nina Simone (February 21, 1933 - April 21, 2003)
A child prodigy who mastered the piano as a child, Eunice Waymon would ultimately re-shape the boundaries of jazz and popular song, as well as help to define its role in reflecting and driving the Civil Rights struggle, as she transformed herself into the legendary vocalist, pianist, composer, bandleader, and icon: Nina Simone. Absorbing the sounds of the church, of classical music, and of popular song at an early age, Simone initially aimed at pursuing a career as a classical pianist. Ultimately she changed her course following a rejection from the Curtis Institute of Music, a rejection many have argued was racially motivated. Adopting the stage name Nina Simone and playing nightclubs, Simone gained renown quickly as a pianist and a vocalist capable of astonishingly unique and nuanced interpretations of songs. Quickly developing her career, Simone also began to push at the boundaries of jazz performance, bringing in older repertoire, drawing on spirituals and gospel traditions, while also embracing newer pop repertoire. A supremely gifted composer, Simone also took deep professional risks, using her musical voice to speak out in support of the Civil Rights efforts, and calling attention to inequality and violence, most famously on Mississippi Goddam. Steadfastly refusing to be tied to any specific style, Simone continued to experiment with new sounds, continued to compose new music, and continued to use her voice and art to address social inequality, even at the expense of her career. As a pianist, Nina Simone offered formidable technique and a mastery of the lyrical possibilities of the piano. As a vocalist, her dark-hued voice could wring every drop of emotion from the quietest ballad while also shining in full-throttle ecstatic works. And just like her music, Nina Simone’s impact is wide and diverse, having inspired generations of artists, no matter the genre.


Nat “King” Cole (March 17, 1919 – February 15, 1965)
Even from his earliest years, Nat Cole was unstoppable: a piano player, vocalist, actor, and entertainer, Cole would become of the most beloved figures in entertainment that the United States ever saw. As a pianist, Cole offered a melodic, swinging sound that shone in his highly influential trio model (one that would be copied by generations of artists to come), while also anchoring now-legendary endeavors like the Jazz at the Philharmonic tours. And when Cole paired his piano playing with his vocal work, he ascended to legendary status. Sporting a honeyed tone and an effortless, unrushed phrasing, Cole quickly became a hit-making machine, delivering classic rendition of song after classic rendition of song, to the delight of millions. For a veritable cavalcade of popular music, Nat Cole’s version was and remains definitive. Whether in small ensemble, where he continued to shine his jazz chops, or in lush larger orchestrations, Cole brought a warmth and clarity to his interpretations that have endured every test of time. Through his string of successful radio and television appearances, Cole also maintained an outpost of mainstream, even crossover, popularity for jazz into the 1960s, all while maintaining his artistry at peak levels. His chameleonic mastery of styles have ensured that his legacy is felt across many genres, even five decades after his passing, as generations of singers continue to mimic his phrasing, while countless vocalists and instrumentalists attempt to capture his innovative sound and spirit.

This initiative is made possible through a generous
gift from Ray and Barbara Dalio.