Thursday, August 16. 2012
After several email reminders, I voted in DownBeat's Readers Poll the other day. You can too, although I think the last chance is August 17: click here. It's a slog, with categories you care about and others you don't. And their suggested nominees, which may (or may not) be good ones. They do provide a form to write in someone else. I didn't avail myself of that, figuring I shouldn't waste my vote on someone with no chance of winning. Still, while some answers are obvious, most are pretty arbitrary. My notes follow. For comparison, see my notes on voting in DownBeat's 2012 Critics Poll -- pretty much the same regime, except that critics can vote for three (as opposed to one) nominees, and have that extra "Rising Star" complication.
Hall of Fame: George Russell; Also on ballot (henceforth AB): Abdullah Ibrahim, Anthony Braxton, Buck Clayton, Charlie Haden, Don Cherry, Don Pullen, Herbie Nichols, Illinois Jacquet, Mildred Bailey, Shelly Manne, Tommy Flanagan, obviously many more; Not on ballot (henceforth NB): Lee Konitz (4th in the Critics Poll; what's with dropping him?), Art Farmer, Bud Freeman, Don Byas, Don Redman, Henry "Red" Allen, Leroy Jenkins, Louis Jordan, Jimmy Rushing, Lucky Thompson, Mal Waldron. I would have voted for Konitz had he been on the ballot.
Jazz Artist: I assume this requires something intangible beyond playing. William Parker; AB: Anthony Braxton, Bill Frisell, Dave Douglas, Henry Threadgill, James Carter, John Zorn, Lee Konitz, Matthew Shipp, Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, Vijay Iyer; NB: Ken Vandermark, Steve Lehman, Wadada Leo Smith.
Jazz Group: I (usually) skip over artist-name groups here, no matter how much they like to think of themselves as group efforts. Mostly Other People Do the Killing; AB: Atomic, Claudia Quintet; NB: ICP Orchestra, Microscopic Septet, ROVA, World Saxophone Quartet; RIP: Vandermark 5.
Big Band: ICP Orchestra (not really a big band, just 9 pieces, but hey!); AB: Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Gerald Wilson Big Band, Peter Brötzmann Tentet, Satoko Fujii Orchestra, Steven Bernstein Millennial Territory Orchestra, Vienna Art Orchestra; NB: Anthony Brown's Asian American Orchestra.
Jazz Album (released June 1, 2011 to May 31,2012): Steve Lehman Trio: Dialect Flourescent (Pi); AB:
NB: Cf. the A-lists for 2011 and 2012. I don't have the necessary info to sort out the release dates, but will note that of the 27 A- (or better) jazz records on the 2012 list, only 8 (30%) were on the ballot. (But note that my 2012 list includes post-June 1 releases; no idea how many, but I figure the ballot must be missing at least 50% of my A-list records.)
Ballot breakdown by grade: A (1), A- (18), B+(***) (21), B+(**) (27), B+(*) (24), B (4), B- (1), U (52, 35% of total).
Historical Album (released June 1, 2011-May 31, 2012): Cartagena! Curro Fuentes & the Big Band Cumbia and Descarga Sound of Columbia 1962-72 (Soundway); AB:
NB: I've only heard 6 of 31 ballot albums, but haven't heard much else either. Lack of access to these historical albums bothers me greatly.
Trumpet: Wadada Leo Smith; AB: Brian Lynch, Dave Douglas, Enrico Rava, Nils Petter Molvaer, Paolo Fresu, Ralph Alessi, Roy Campbell, Steven Bernstein, Tomasz Stanko, Wynton Marsalis; NB: Dennis Gonzalez, James Zollar, Matt Lavelle, Natsuki Tamura, Randy Sandke, Taylor Ho Bynum, Warren Vaché.
Trombone: Roswell Rudd; AB: George Lewis, Julian Priester, Ray Anderson, Steve Swell, Steve Turre, Wycliffe Gordon; NB: Jacob Garchik, Joe Fiedler, Phil Ranelin.
Soprano Saxophone: Evan Parker; AB: Jan Garbarek, John Surman, Michael Blake, Wayne Shorter; NB: Brent Jensen, Joe Giardullo, Vinny Golia. I would prefer picking a specialist, but no one is looking to step into Steve Lacy's shoes. Most of the big names are better on larger horns (Parker included), but I'm reluctant to pick someone who just plays one cut per album (of which, Chris Potter is probably tops, with Marcus Strickland rising fast; Branford Marsalis won the critics poll, and he's usually solid).
Alto Saxophone: Tim Berne; AB: Anthony Braxton, Bobby Watson, Darius Jones, Greg Osby, Henry Threadgill, Joe McPhee, John Zorn, Jon Irabagon, Kenny Garrett, Lee Konitz, Marty Ehrlich, Miguel Zenón, Oliver Lake, Ornette Coleman, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Steve Lehman, Ted Nash; NB: Arthur Blythe, Bob Wilber, Dave Rempis, François Carrier, Loren Stillman, Mark Whitecage, Martin Küchen, Matana Roberts, Michael Moore, Philip Johnston, Sabir Mateen.
Tenor Saxophone: David Murray; AB: Billy Harper, Branford Marsalis, Charles Gayle, Charles Lloyd, Chris Byars, Chris Potter, Chris Speed, David S. Ware, Donny McCaslin, Evan Parker, Harry Allen, Houston Person, James Carter, Jan Garbarek, Jerry Bergonzi, Joe Lovano, Joel Frahm, Jon Irabagon, Ken Vandermark, Peter Brötzmann, Sonny Rollins, Tony Malaby, Von Freeman. NB: Archie Shepp, Avram Fefer, Chris Cheek, Dave Rempis, Ellery Eskelin, Ivo Perelman, Joe McPhee, Juhani Aaltonen, Larry Ochs, Pharoah Sanders, Rich Halley, Rodrigo Amado, Scott Hamilton, Tommy Smith.
Baritone Saxophone: John Surman; AB: Claire Daly, Dave Rempis, Fred Ho, Gary Smulyan, Gebhard Ullman, Hamiet Bluiett, James Carter, Ken Vandermark, Mats Gustafsson, Scott Robinson, Tim Berne, Vinny Golia. NB: none. I don't really like picking a non-specialist, but this is Surman's main horn (unlike Carter and Vandermark, Berne and Golia), and I haven't heard a thing from Bluiett in several years.
Clarinet: Louis Sclavis; AB: Anat Cohen, Ben Goldberg, Chris Speed, Darryl Harper, Don Byron, François Houle, Marty Ehrlich, Michael Moore, Ned Rothenberg, Perry Robinson, NB: Allan Vaché, Lajos Dudas, Mort Weiss.
Flute: Henry Threadgill; AB: Dave Valentin, Kali Z. Fasteau, Nicole Mitchell, Robert Dick, Sam Most; NB: Juhani Aaltonen.
Piano: Myra Melford; AB: Ahmad Jamal, Alexander Von Schlippenbach, Brad Mehldau, Cecil Taylor, Enrico Pieranunzi, Ethan Iverson, Fred Hersch, George Colligan, Jason Moran, Keith Jarrett, Kenny Barron, Martial Solal, Matthew Shipp, McCoy Tyner, Satoko Fujii, Uri Caine, Vijay Iyer. NB: Abdullah Ibrahim, Bill Carrothers, Carla Bley, Cedar Walton, Chucho Valdes, Dave Burrell, David Berkman, Giorgio Gaslini, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Guus Janssen, Hal Galper, Irène Schweizer, Joanne Brackeen, Kris Davis, Marilyn Crispell, Misha Mengelberg, Muhal Richard Abrams, Nik Bärtsch, Pandelis Karayorgis, Paul Bley, Ran Blake, Roger Kellaway, Steve Kuhn.
Electric Keyboard: Matthew Shipp; AB: Bugge Wesseltoft, Craig Taborn, Sam Yahel, Uri Caine. NB: Alexander Hawkins, Nik Bärtsch. Not an accurate pick, in that Shipp plays very little keyb, but maybe a hopeful one.
Organ: Brian Charette; AB: Dan Wall, Joey DeFrancesco, John Medeski, Mike LeDonne NB: Vince Seneri, Jeppe Tuxen.
Guitar: Nels Cline; AB: Bill Frisell, Howard Alden, Jeff Parker, Jim Hall, Joe Morris, John Abercrombie, John McLaughlin, John Scofield, Liberty Ellman, Marc Ribot, Mary Halvorson, Peter Bernstein, Rez Abbasi, Russell Malone; NB: Anders Nilsson, Billy Jenkins, Brad Shepik, Dom Minasi, Gordon Grdina, James Blood Ulmer, Kevin O'Neill, Luis Lopes, Marc Ducret, Michael Musillami, Pedro Gomes, Pete McCann, Raoul Björkenheim, Samo Salamon, Scott DuBois, Ulf Wakenius, Wolfgang Muthspiel.
Bass: William Parker; AB: Arild Andersen, Barry Guy, Ben Allison, Charlie Haden, Dave Holland, Drew Gress, Eivind Opsvik, Gary Peacock, Harrison Bankhead, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, John Hébert, Marc Johnson, Mark Dresser, Michael Formanek, Omer Avital, Peter Washington, Ray Drummond, Reggie Workman, Scott Colley; NB: Adam Lane, Alexis Cuadrado, Arthur Kell, Avishai Cohen, Cecil McBee, Hans Glawischnig, Harvey S, Henry Grimes, Joe Fonda, John Lindberg, Ken Filiano, Mark Helias, Moppa Elliott, Pablo Aslan, Reid Anderson, Ron Carter, Stephan Crump.
Electric Bass: Steve Swallow; AB: Jamaaladeen Tacuma, James Genus, Nate McBride, Stomu Takeishi; NB: Melvin Gibbs, Massimo Pupillo. A lot of bassists play some electric, but it's hard to keep track of who plays what where.
Violin: Jason Kao Hwang; AB: Aaron Weinstein, Charles Burnham, Didier Lockwood, Mat Maneri, Rob Thomas, NB: Jenny Scheinman (major omission), Jesse Zubot, Philipp Wachsmann.
Drums: Andrew Cyrille; AB: Ben Riley, Bill Stewart, Billy Hart, Bobby Previte, Dan Weiss, Dave King, Eric Harland, Gerald Cleaver, Gerry Hemingway, Hamid Drake, Han Bennink, Jack DeJohnette, Jim Black, Joey Baron, John Hollenbeck, Lewis Nash, Matt Wilson, Mike Reed, Paal Nilssen-Love, Scott Amendola, Tyshawn Sorey, Victor Lewis. NB: Anthony Brown, Günter Baby Sommer, Harris Eisenstadt, Kevin Norton, Louis Moholo, Paul Lytton, Stefan Pasborg, Susie Ibarra, Thomas Strønen, Tom Rainey, Tony Oxley.
Vibes: Warren Smith; AB: Bobby Hutcherson, Jason Adasiewicz, Joe Locke, Kenny Wollesen, Khan Jamal, Steve Nelson; NB: Bill Ware.
Percussion: Han Bennink; AB: Adam Rudolph, Dan Weiss, Hamid Drake, Kahil El'Zabar, Marilyn Mazur, Michael Zerang, Satoshi Takeishi, Susie Ibarra, Warren Smith, Zakir Hussain; NB: Kevin Diehl, Jerry Leake, Ravish Momin, Roberto Juan Rodriguez.
Miscellaneous Instrument: Bob Stewart (tuba); AB: David Murray (bass clarinet), Eric Friedlander (cello), Gary Versace (accordion), Howard Johnson (tuba), Myra Melford (harmonium) Rabih Abou-Khalil (oud), Richard Galliano (accordion), Scott Robinson (bass sax); NB: Bill Cole (didgeridoo), Cooper-Moore (diddley bow), Hamilton de Holanda (mandolin), John Gill (banjo), Marcus Rojas (tuba), Mike Marshall (mandolin), Philipp Wachsmann (electronics), Will Holshouser (accordion).
Male Vocalist: Freddy Cole; AB: Bob Dorough, Giacomo Gates, Mose Allison, Theo Bleckmann; NB: Jamie Davis, Tony DeSare.
Female Vocalist: Sheila Jordan; AB: Cassandra Wilson, Diana Krall, Dianne Reeves, Fay Victor, Lorraine Feather, Patricia Barber, René Marie, Tierney Sutton; NB: Lisa Sokolov, Mary Stallings, Yaala Ballin.
Composer: Ben Allison; AB: Carla Bley, Dave Douglas, John Zorn, Randy Weston, Steve Lehman; NB: Adam Lane.
Arranger: Steven Bernstein; AB: Allen Toussaint, Carla Bley, Gerald Wilson, John Hollenbeck. NB: Anthony Branker, David Weiss.
Record Label: Clean Feed; AB: Cuneiform, Delmark, ECM, HighNote, Pi, Posi-Tone, Sunnyside; would rate higher if they serviced me better: 482 Music, Arbors, Enja, Firehouse 12, Intakt, Leo, Mosaic, Tzadik.
Blues Artist or Group: James Blood Ulmer; AB: Carolina Chocolate Drops, Dr. John, Eric Bibb, Otis Taylor, Taj Mahal; NB: Guy Davis, Maria Muldaur, Sue Foley.
Blues Album: Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton: Play the Blues (Warner); AB: none. Heard 7 of 24 records; only 1 A-, 1 *** (Otis Taylor), 2 ** (Bonnie Raitt, Dr. John), 3 * (Janiva Magness, Joe Louis Walker, Tedeschi Trucks Band). Doesn't appear to be anything A-list not on ballot.
Beyond Artist or Group: The Roots; AB: Arcade Fire, Hayes Carll, Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Pink Martini, Tune-yards; NB: damn near everyone.
Beyond Album (released June 1, 2011-May 31, 2012): Leonard Cohen: Old Ideas (BMG); AB:
AB: see the year lists above, for lots of non-jazz, non-blues beyond the ballot (what shows up on the ballot is pretty arbitrary). Heard 24 of 34 records. Ballot breakdown by grade: A- (7), B+(***) (2), B+(**) (4), B+(*) (5), B (3), B- (3).
DownBeat's Critics Poll results came out in their August, 2012 issue. Some quick comments:
Still very mainstream. Still nearly impossible for a European to get a hearing. Some evidence of a generational shift, especially in the rise of Iyer and Mahanthappa. (I doubt that Akinmusire will stick.)
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