JEN LeJENds of Jazz Education Award

Established in 2012 by the JEN Board of Directors, the JEN LeJENds of Jazz Education Awardhonors true legends in jazz education. This award is bestowed upon a jazz educator who has distinguished themselves by living up to the JEN Mission.

The following criteria are some of the qualities used for the selection of this award. These criteria should have been demonstrated over several decades of work.

  • Demonstration of being an outstanding educator.
  • Promoting Jazz in all formats (performance and audiences).
  • Encouraging and inspiring musicians, teachers and aficionados of all ages.
  • Recognition at a national and/or international level.
  • Demonstration of a true passion for the art.

Past honorees:

2020 – Kidd Jordan
2019 – Barry Harris
2018 – Dr. John Edward Hasse
2017 – Ellis Marsalis
2016 – Phil Mattson
2015 – Herbie Hancock, Bobby Shew
2014 – Paris Rutherford, Ed Soph
2013 – Rufus Reid, Dave Liebman
2012 – Jamey Aebersold, David Baker, Jerry Coker & Dan Haerle

JEN LeJENds of Latin Jazz Award

Established in 2014 by the JEN Board of Directors, the JEN LeJENds of Latin Jazz Awardhonors true legends of Latin Jazz. This award is bestowed upon a musician who has distinguished themselves by living up to the JEN Mission.

The following criteria are some of the qualities used for the selection of this award. These criteria should have been demonstrated over several decades of work.

  • Demonstration of being an outstanding performer/educator
  • Promoting Jazz in all formats (performance and audiences)
  • Encouraging and inspiring musicians, teachers and aficionados of all ages
  • Recognition at a national and/or international level
  • Demonstration of a true passion for the art
  • Sharing and expanding the art of Latin Jazz in all areas listed above

Past honorees:

2020 – Chucho Valdés
2019 – Alex Acuña
2018 – Bobby Sanabria
2017 – Eddie Palmieri
2016 – Paquito D’Rivera
2015 – Poncho Sanchez
2014 – Candido Camero

Meade Legacy Jazz Griot Award

To Recognize and Celebrate those whose Unique Voices make the story of jazz music more complete.

Founded by the African American Jazz Caucus(AAJC), The Donald Meade Legacy Foundation has been founded upon the premise that the “story” is an essential part of Jazz education and that the storyteller or Griot creates a vital link between the music and life stories. Donald Meade’s first voice stories embrace the social, political and cultural realities that shaped and created jazz truths.  He has inspired and encouraged numerous jazz artists, and he was a steadfast advocate for jazz education, particularly for young people.  The AAJC foundation, presented in tandem with JEN, continues his legacy through recognizing other jazz griots with the Meade Legacy Jazz Griot, in addition to creating platforms in which their stories can heard around the world. Learn more…

Past honorees:

2020 – Stephen Foster
2019 – Jimmy Heath
2018 – Nobuko “Cobi” Narita
2017 – Willie Pickens
2016 – Larry Reni Thomas
2015 – Congressman John Conyers, Jr.
2014 – Dr. Larry Ridley
2013 – Dr. Willis Kirk
2012 – Donald Meade

President's Service Award

The President’s Service Award is awarded annually by the President in consultation with the President-Elect, Vice President, Immediate Past President, and additional members of the Advisory Council of Past Presidents to an individual that has satisfied the following criteria:

  1. Two years of continuing service to the organization
  2. Given tirelessly of their efforts, resources, expertise, and time
  3. Demonstration of commitment to the organization’s mission
  4. True example of altruism

President’s Service Award Recipients:

2020 – Ryan Adamsons
2019 – Dr. David Fodor (IL)
2018 – Mary Ann Fischer (OH)
2017 – Frances Scanlon
2016 – Richard Condit (Lake Charles, LA)
2015 – Sharon Burch, (IA)
2014 – Jerry Tolson, Louisville, KY (JAN 2014 JAZZed: page 31)
2013 – Gene Perla, Easton, Pennsylvania (JAN 2013 JAZZed: page 21)
2012 – Larry Green, Columbia, Missouri (JAN 2012 JAZZed: page 12)
2011 – Steve Crissinger, Columbus, Ohio
2010 – Jim Widner, St. Louis Missouri

The Ellis Marsalis, Jr./John LaPorta Jazz Educator of the Year Award

The Jazz Education Network and Berklee College of Music collaborate to present the Ellis Marsalis, Jr./John LaPorta Jazz Educator of the Year award.

The award is named after two legendary jazz educators and will recognize an outstanding elementary, middle, or high school educator with a focus on jazz education, who represents the highest standards of teaching and whose results in the classroom have brought distinction to their institution and their students.

Past Recipients

2020 – Paul Pitts, Boston, MA
2019 – Thomas “TL” Lizotte, Cape Elizabeth, ME
2018 – Diane Downs, Louisville, KY
2017 – Dr. Robert Klevan, Pacific Grove, CA
2016 – José Antonio Diaz, Diaz Music Institute, Houston, TX
2015 – Janis Stockhouse, Blooming High School North, Bloomington, IN
2014 – Daniel Gregerman, Niles North High School, Skokie, IL (JAN 2014 JAZZed: page 31)
2013 – Davey Yarborough, Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Washington D.C. (JAN 2013 JAZZed: page 18)
2012 – Bart Marantz, Booker T. Washington High School, Dallas, TX (JAN 2012 JAZZed: page 16)
2011 – Caleb Chapman, Crescent Super Band, Salt Lake City, UT (SEPT 2011 JAZZed: page 40)


Award Recipients prior to JEN

2008 – Don Cantwell, Retired from Whitesboro High School, Barneveld, NY
2007 – Bob Sinicrope, Milton Academy, Milton, MA (SEPT 2008 JAZZed: page 28)

Nomination Criteria - Ellis Marsalis, Jr./John LaPorta Jazz Educator of the Year

Eligibility Criteria for Ellis Marsalis, Jr./John LaPorta Educator of the Year Nominee

  • A practicing music educator — currently advancing the artistic lives of students in the classroom
  • Minimum of 5 years teaching experience (jazz context; elementary, middle, or high school setting)
  • Demonstration of student-centered engagement
  • Nominee represents the highest standards of jazz teaching, and results in the classroom have brought distinction to nominee’s institution and students

All information and letters of support are required to complete the application. Partially completed applications not accepted.

Deadline October 31, 5:00 p.m. (EST)

The Ellis Marsalis, Jr./John LaPorta Jazz Educator of the Year

The Jazz Education Network and the Berklee College of Music is seeking nominations for the 2021 Ellis Marsalis, Jr./John LaPorta Jazz Educator of the Year. Named after two legendary jazz educators, Berklee is pleased to collaborate with the Jazz Education Network to recognize an outstanding jazz educator who represents the highest standards of teaching and whose results in the classroom have brought distinction to an institution and to students with the Ellis Marsalis, Jr./John LaPorta Jazz Educator of the Year Award.

Nominations Open thru October 15th

Applications are due by 5pm (EST), October 15, and the recipient will be notified by November 1.

Award Presentation

This national recognition is presented to the recipient at the Jazz Education Network conference (January 6-9, 2021).

The recipient of the Ellis Marsalis, Jr./John LaPorta Jazz Educator of the Year Award receives

Complementary JEN Conference Registration

Recognition and Award

Deadline October 15, 5:00 p.m. (EST)

2020 Award Recipients

Kidd Jordan


LeJENd of Jazz Education

Legendary saxophonist & New Orleans resident Sir Edward “Kidd” Jordan is one of the true master improvisers still performing today.  Jordan was recognized as a jazz maverick back in the 1940s intent on exploring jazz rooted music’s outer reaches.

Born in Crowley, LA, on May 5, 1935, Jordan grew up listening to Zydeco and Blues.  It was there that he learned to play saxophone, and after hearing Charlie Parker and Lester Young, he became interested in the art of jazz improvisation.

This virtuoso unselfishly shared his gift of and passion for music for more than 50 years, 34 of which he spent at Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO) until he retired in 2006 as head of the jazz studies program.

Jordan performs on tenor, baritone, soprano, alto, C-melody and soprano sax, as well as contrabass and bass clarinets. He has performed and recorded with a broad array of musicians in styles ranging from R&B to avant-garde jazz, including Lena Horne, Aretha Franklin, Nancy Wilson, Gladys Knight, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Cannonball Adderley, Ornette Coleman, and many more.

Citing him as a visionary educator and performer, the French Government recognized Jordan in 1985 as a Knight (Chevalier) of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, their nation’s highest honor.

Jordan earned his master’s degree in music from Millikin University in Decatur, IL. In May of 2017, he received an honorary doctor of music degree from Loyola University New Orleans.



Paul Pitts

 2020 John LaPorta Jazz Educator

of the Year Award

Paul Pitts was born in 1956 in Boston, MA. He attended St. Thomas Grammar School and the Boston Latin School graduating in 1973. He attended Boston University graduating with a Bachelor of Music in 1977 and a Master of Music in 1980. He has performed with the Portland Symphony Orchestra , Boston Opera Company, Rhode Island Philharmonic, New Hampshire Symphony and the Nashua Symphony Orchestra. He has been active in music education for the last forty years serving as Massachusetts Association of Jazz Educators State President, MMEA Eastern District Festival Host, All – State Jazz Band Manager, All – State Concert Band Manager, Southeast District Jazz Band Manager. He has guest conducted the All Cape Jazz Ensemble (2005), Central District Junior Jazz Ensemble (2002), Connecticut C.M.E.A. Eastern Region Junior High Jazz Band (1996), Mass Lions All-State Jazz Band (1993 & 2012), and  S.E.M.S.B.A High School Festival Orchestra (1990). In addition to Boston University he has studied at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, Fitchburg State College and the Berklee College of Music.

A music educator in Massachusetts for the last forty years, Paul beginning his career in Westwood as the percussion instructor for the marching band in 1979. He has been the director of bands at Oliver Ames High School and is the Fine Arts Director at the Boston Latin School. He was awarded the Lowell Mason Award in 1995 by the MMEA for leadership in music education. Since coming to the Boston Latin School he has grown the music program to over 1,050 students. Under Paul, BLS received a Grammy Signature School Award in 2005 for excellence in music education. When Paul moved to Boston Latin School he also took over the leadership of the Massachusetts State Jazz Education Association from 1999-2002 and 2015-2019. Paul has led The Big Band at BLS to Gold Medal ratings at the MAJE state finals in 2001, 2002, 2006-2009 and 2011-2019 . They placed 1st in the Berklee College of Music High School Jazz Festival in Division I in 2007. They also won the Charles Mingus High School Festival in New York City in 2013 and 2018 and received the Mingus Spirit Award in 2019. Last year they were a semi-finalist in the Essentially Ellington Festival.

The BLS Big band has performed for many jazz greats such Roy Haynes, Greg Hopkins, Gunther Schuller, Wynton Marsialles, Sy Johnson, Nat Hentoff, Bill Pierce, Harold Maybern, and Wayne Naus to name a few.

Stephen Foster

2020 Donald Meade Legacy Griot Award (in partnership with the African American Jazz Caucus)

Music educator, musician, and arranger Stephen Foster is a native of New Orleans, and is the 2020 recipient of the Donald Meade Legacy Jazz Griot Award.

A graduate of St. Augustine High School, University of Arkansas – Pine Bluff, Loyola University, and Band Director’s Academy Jazz at Lincoln Center, Stephen’s inspiration hails from studying Conducting/Orchestration under the tutelage of Dr. Ernest G. Chachere. He founded the Children’s Academy of Music, Mid-City Full Arts Workshop, Foster Family programs and developed the Jazz education curriculum for Stax Music Academy. Stephen is a member of the African American Jazz Caucus (AAJC) and the Quincy Jones Muzik Consortium.

Using a holistic approach, he has inspired thousands of students over 46 years to become viable, contributing professionals in our society.

Ryan Adamsons

2020 JEN President’s Service Award

A native of Springfield, Virginia, Ryan Adamsons is based in Chicago where his diverse talents and interests have led him to a career encompassing a wide variety of activities in education and the music industry at large.

Ryan is an active trumpet player as well as a sought-after clinician and instructor with nearly two decades of experience working with groups of all sizes and styles, from small group jazz to championship level drum corps.  He is an accomplished author with several published articles both online and in print, and is co-editor of the forthcoming book Rehearsing the Jazz Band, available from Meredith Music.  Ryan is also a prolific composer and arranger with over fifty commissioned and performed works for jazz ensemble from the middle school level to professional, with his educational works published by Kendor.

In addition to his role as Conference Production Coordinator with JEN, Ryan is on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Jazz Orchestra and is the Jazz Area Manager for The Midwest Clinic.  He is a Denis Wick Ambassador and plays Powell Custom trumpets and flugelhorns.

Chucho Valdés

2020 JEN LeJENds of

Latin Jazz

Winner of six GRAMMY® and three Latin GRAMMY® Awards, the Cuban pianist, composer and arranger Chucho Valdés is the most influential figure in modern Afro-Cuban jazz.

Born in a family of musicians in Quivicán, Havana province, Cuba, on October 9, 1941, Dionisio Jesús “Chucho” Valdés Rodríguez, has distilled elements of the Afro-Cuban music tradition, jazz, classical music, and rock into an organic, deeply personal style.

His first teacher was his father, the great pianist, composer and bandleader Ramón “Bebo” Valdés.  By the age of three, Chucho was already playing the melodies he heard on the radio at the piano, using both hands and in any key. In 1959, at age 15, he debuted professionally with Sabor de Cuba, directed by Bebo Valdés.

His most recent project, Jazz Batá 2, is an exceptional work in which he revisits an idea he first explored in 1972: a piano jazz trio featuring batá drums, the sacred, hourglass shaped drums of the Yoruba religion in Cuba, in place of the conventional trap set. Released on November 16, 2018, Jazz Batá 2 marks Chucho’s debut on Mack Avenue Records.

Achievements and awards in recognition of his extraordinary career, Chucho has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Science™, and was also inducted in the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Chucho has won Grammys for Live at the Village Vanguard (Bluenote, 2000), Juntos Para Siempre (Calle 54, 2007), the duet recording with his father, Bebo; for Chucho’s Steps (Comanche, 2010), which introduced his group, the Afro-Cuban Messengers, and the Tribute to Irakere: Live at Marciac  (Jazz Village / Comanche Music, 2016).