Jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis Jr. and four of his accomplished musician sons — Wynton, Branford, Delfeayo and Jason — have received the highest jazz honour in the U.S.
The National Endowment for the Arts honoured the family of New Orleans musicians as Jazz Masters at a ceremony Tuesday night in New York, at the Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rose Theater.
The group honour was the first such award presented by the NEA since it launched the award program in 1982.
Also receiving the musical distinction were flutist Hubert Laws, saxophonist David Liebman, composer-arranger Johnny Mandel, and producer and writer Orrin Keepnews.
In the early 1980s, patriarch Marsalis served on the panel that helped choose the first recipients of the award.
"I did get to vote for some of those who became Jazz Masters never really thinking that I would be voted at any time to be one of them," said the 76-year-old champion of modern jazz.
Each Jazz Master will receive a one-time $25,000 fellowship. NEA chair Rocco Landesman also announced a $250,000 US grant to more than a dozen arts organizations in order to stage concerts featured this year's honourees.
The ceremony, which was broadcast live by satellite radio, U.S. public broadcaster NPR and via webcast, included performances by several of the 2011 artists.