Three jazz greats -- Art Blakey, Lionel Hampton and Billy Taylor -- have been awarded National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Fellowships for their significant contributions to jazz in the African American tradition. Each will receive $20,000 to support a project of his choice. The 68-year-old Blakey was cited for his jazz drumming style, his skills as a talent scout and his commitment to jazz excellence; the 74-year-old vibraphonist Hampton for his mastery of swing and ability with the mallets and his philanthropy; the 66-year-old Taylor for his pianistic skills, taste and imagination, as well as his dedication to jazz excellence.

In naming the 1988 Jazz Masters Fellows, National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Frank Hodsoll said that each one "has contributed greatly to this nation's rich heritage of jazz composition, brought enjoyment to the growing audiences for jazz and influenced jazz and other forms of music both here and abroad during a distinguished career." The fellowship awards were first presented in 1981, and other winners include Dexter Gordon, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk.

Out and About The Christmas cards are still dribbling in and one of the strangest to arrive this year is one showing a family of four at the bottom of their swimming pool, mom and dad beaming toothy smiles. The message inside is "Sink or swim in '88, Happy Holidays." And the printed names, not signatures, are Tom, Jane, Vanessa and Troy. When you take a second look at the happy underwater group, why, of course it's the Jane Fonda/Tom Hayden family ...

Regardie's magazine is running a fiction-writing contest, but the editors are not looking for just any general fiction. They are looking for "great literature or great pulp" stories about money, power and greed and will pay a tidy $5,000 for the best one. Like the famous speech out of the film "Wall Street," the editors contend that "Money, power and greed. They're the things that made this country great" ...

Opera great Luciano Pavarotti will be in town at the end of next month to receive a special lifetime achievement in the arts tribute from the National Italian American Foundation at a dinner at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Jack Valenti, the dinner chairman, said Gian Carlo Menotti's Pulitzer Prize-winning opera "The Consul" will be performed earlier in the day at the Kennedy Center as part of the Pavarotti tribute. At the dinner, Philip Bologna, who won the Metropolitan Opera National Auditions and who has performed in several Washington Opera productions, will sing a medley of arias ...

Everybody's got a list of some kind at the end of the year and the Millennium Society, formed in 1979 by a group of Yale University students to look forward to the year 2000, has an oddly mixed list of the year's 10 most inspiring people. At the top of the list are two people not often found on the same list anywhere else: Pope John Paul II and Elizabeth Taylor. The others are Nobel Peace Prize-winner Oscar Arias, singer Paul Simon, basketball legend Julius Erving, oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, Harlem charity worker "Mother" Clara Hale, Canadian runner Rick Hansen, and that bruised toddler, Jessica McClure, who was rescued from a Texas well. The 10th most inspiring wasn't a person at all. It was the U.S. Constitution. The Millennium Society will hold its "Countdown 2000" party at the National Press Club on New Year's Eve as part of a series of fund-raising parties around the world for a scholarship program. Come New Year's Eve 1999, there will be Millennium parties to end all parties at the Great Pyramid of Cheops, the Great Wall of China and at the Statue of Liberty, which should be a bit classier than the stamp falling at the Old Post Office Building ...