Verizon to Sponsor National Endowment for the Arts' 2005 Jazz Masters Initiative

LONG BEACH, Calif. - Continuing its tradition of supporting quality musical entertainment and education across the country, Verizon today announced the sponsorship of The National Endowment for the Arts' Jazz Masters Initiative for 2005.

The initiative includes nationwide touring performances and associated educational activities, television and radio programming and a commemorative publication.

The 2005 Jazz Masters awardees are guitarist Kenney Burrell, instrumentalist Paquito D'Rivera, arranger-composer Slide Hampton, vocalist Shirley Horn, recently deceased big band leader Artie Shaw, keyboardist Jimmy Smith and jazz impresario George Wein. Since the program's inception in 1982, 80 artists have been named NEA Jazz Masters.

The 2005 Jazz Masters will be recognized at an awards ceremony and concert tonight at 8 at the Terrace Theater, Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center. The award includes a one-time fellowship of $25,000.

The Verizon sponsorship of the renowned program was announced today at the International Association for Jazz Education conference, which is being held this week in Long Beach.

"It is truly an honor for Verizon to be affiliated with this prestigious national program," said Bob Ingalls, president of Verizon Retail Markets. "Verizon already has a long history of bringing quality music to our customers across the nation through the Verizon Music Festival and our sponsorship of various artists' performances and concerts, so we are pleased to support a great program that recognizes the masters of this uniquely American art form."

In conjunction with the company's sponsorship of the '05 Jazz Masters program, the Verizon Foundation is providing a $100,000 grant for NEA Jazz in the Schools, an educational resource for high school teachers that uses a Web-based curriculum and DVD toolkit (see related NEA news release).

"We are proud to have Verizon as our partner in these important programs," said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. "Verizon recognizes the value of connecting audiences across the country with music that is so much a part of our nation's history. The National Endowment for the Arts looks forward to working with Verizon to benefit jazz, its artists and its listeners."

The Verizon sponsorship of the Jazz Masters includes a series of more than 50 engagements, at least one in each state, featuring NEA Jazz Masters. There are also speaking events and related educational activities, ranging from master classes and lecture-demonstrations to meet-the-artist sessions. In addition, "Legends of Jazz," a television program hosted by Ramsey Lewis, will be broadcast nationally in April on PBS television station affiliates. Also, radio programs incorporating musical performances and interviews will air on public radio stations around the country.

Verizon Communications Inc.

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