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Recognizing accomplishments in jazz media as well as music

Jazz Journalists Association Honors Its Own

Jun 19th, 2015 | By
neil kim

Neil Tesser, Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Journalism honoree, and New York CIty Jazz Hero Kim Clarke, at the Blue Note JJA Jazz party June 16, 2015

Neil Tesser, the Chicago-based jazz journalist, broadcaster, author, educator, former chair of the board of trustees of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences (NARAS) and current board member of the Jazz Journalists Association  was honored with the JJA’s 2015 Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Journalism Award on Tuesday, June 16 at a cocktail reception at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City. Tesser’s Award topped 2015 JJA Jazz Awards for excellence in media, winners of which were announced at the party.

Tesser may be best known as program host and producer of Miles Ahead and Listen Here!, independently syndicated daily radio programs; as a contributor to publications including the Chicago Reader, USA Today and the Examiner.com; as a 2014 Grammy winner for his liner notes to John Coltrane’s Afro Blue Impressions, and as author of The Playboy Guide to Jazz. He has taught at Northwestern University and University of Illinois, Chicago. He joins a distinguished roll call of Lifetime in Jazz Journalism honorees: Stanley Dance, Nat Hentoff, Dan Morgenstern, Ira Gitler, Gary Giddins, Gene Lees, Bob Blumenthal, Howard Mandel, Francis Davis, Doug Ramsey, Mike Zwerin, Don Heckman, Bill Milkowski, Amiri Baraka, Willard Jenkins and W. Royal Stokes.

Other recipients of 2015 JJA Jazz Awards in media categories included Wall Street Journal contributor Marc Myers for his blog Jazz Wax; Herbie Hancock and Lisa Dickey for their book Herbie Hancock: Possibilities; Ashley Kahn for his liner notes to John Coltrane’s Offering: Live at Temple University (Resonance); Nate Chinen, columnist for JazzTimes and contributor to the New York Times for excellence in writing; Brandon Bain for the video “#WeCan’tBreathe: A Peaceful Protest”; Andrea Palmucci for his photograph of pianist Kenny Barron and bassist Dave Holland; Christian McBride as Broadcaster of the Year for being program host of “Jazz Night In America,” a collaboration of WBGO, Jazz at Lincoln Center and National Public Radio.

The Jazz Awards recognized excellence in journalistic platforms, as well – AllAboutJazz.com won Website of the Year, and JazzTimes won as Jazz Publication (several speakers noted the distinction is wearing thin). Winners of all 2015 Jazz Awards, including those for musicians in instrumental categories, are posted at www.JJAJazzAwards.org.


Attendees at the 2015 JJA Jazz Awards party at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City, June 16 2015

The 19th annual JJA Jazz Awards was a public event attended by writers, photographers, broadcasters, videographers, new media professionals as well as a noted international cadre of musicians, presenters, producers, agents and publicists. An introductory fanfare was performed by the West African duo Fula Flute (Bailo Bah and Sylvain Leroux); singer Antoinette Monaco performed a swinging medley around the theme “Jazz Woman to the Rescue,” accompanied by pianist Danny Mixon; bassist-singer Mimi Jones’ led a quintet featuring Mark Shim on electronic wind controller, keyboardist Miki Hayama and guitarist Marvin Sewell.


Photo of the Year: Kenny Barron and Dave Holland, by Andrea Palmucci

Howard Mandel, president of the Jazz Journalists Association (a non-profit 501 (c) 3 professional organization), remarked on the event’s tri-fold focus: Women in jazz, the music’s African roots, and jazz pianists. The JJA’s New York City Jazz Hero, bassist and The Lady Got Chops Jazz Festival organizer Kim Clarke, received her award from JJA development director Susan Brink; MCs were freelancer writer and broadcaster Angelika Beener and Linda Yohn, music director of WEMU Ypsilanti MI. Besides Weston – widely credited for connecting jazz to Africa, and the composer of “African Lady,” arranged by the late Melba Liston, a recording of which was played during the ceremonies — pianist Jason Moran was on hand to accept his Award as Musician of the Year; pianist Arturo O’Farrill was lauded for his Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra; pianist Geri Allen observed from a front table, Greg “Organ Monk” Lewis worked the room, and the JJA’s Pianist of the Year, Kenny Barron, also took home Awards for Duo of the Year – his partner is bassist Dave Holland – and Record of the Year, Barron and Holland’s The Art of Conversation. Further, the Barron-Holland duo was the subject of Andrea Palmucci’s Photo of the Year.

 Other musician winners of Jazz Awards will receive their engraved statuettes at their concerts around the U.S. this summer.

Sponsors of the Jazz Awards initiative include the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, Jazz at Lincoln Center, BMI, Berklee College of Music, the New School Jazz Program, the Jazz Institute of Chicago, SFJazz, MCG Jazz, Earshot Jazz, the Jazz Foundation of America, Mack Avenue, Motema Music, ECM, Sunnyside, Thirsty Ear, Resonance and Mosaic Records, independent publicists Ann Braithwaite (Braithwaite and Katz), Scott Thompson (Scott Thompson PR), and Jim Eigo (Jazz Promo Services); the Estate of Miles Davis, Minton’s and Brother Thelonious Belgian Abbey Ale. Publicist Jana LaSorte worked as stage manager and publicist Carolyn McClair, a JJA board member, welcomed ticket holders and guests.

Enid Farber was the official photographer of the 2015 JJA Jazz Awards (Linda Yohn tweeted out some good cell phone candids, though. Ms. Michal Shapiro directed video documentation of the 2015 JJA Jazz Awards party, and her production will be posted for public consumption shortly. Here is her video of the 2014 JJA Jazz Awards party:


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