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JJA honors musicians before their/our audiences

Jazz Awards presented coast-to-coast

Dec 8th, 2015 | By
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Nicole Mitchell receives “Flutist of the Year Award” from JJA president Howard Mandel; photo by Kent Richmond

Nicole Mitchell, winner of the JJA’s 2015 Flutist of the Year Award, received her engraved statuette at the Jazz Institute of Chicago’s free Jazzcity “Voices Heard” concert December 11 at the Garfield Park Conservatory, thus completing the nationwide presentation of Awards for excellence in music-making and jazz media.  Winners have received their personalized Awards onstage from JJA members at jazz fests and venues far and wide this summer. Presenting the Awards at decentralized special events in front of live audiences is meant to both bolster overall presence of journalists’ role in spreading jazz news and views, and enhance the sense of performance occasion.

Photos from most of these presentations are posted on the JJA’s Facebook page.

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Pedrito Martinez receives “Percussionist of the Year” from Willard Jenkins at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, VA; photo by Scott Suchman for Wolf Trap.

Presentations began at in late June, when JJA development director Susan Brink gave Christian McBride with his Award for Bassist of the Year at the Freihofer Jazz Festival at Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, NY. At the Newport Jazz Festival in Newport, Rhode Island in early August the Boston radio show host and JJA Jazz Hero Eric Jackson handed    Cecile McLorin Salvant her second JJA award as Female Vocalist of the Year (she also won the 2015 and 2014 Awards for Up ‘n’ Coming Artist of the Year), and also presented the statuette for Best Large Ensemble to Arturo O’Farrill for his Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra.

At Newport, too, Bonnie Johnson, radio show host at WICN (Worcester, MA) presented Ambrose Akinmusire with his Award for Trumpeter of the Year. A couple weeks later (on Aug 16) Bonnie presented Awards for Clarinetist of the Year and Multi-Reeds Player of the Year to Anat Cohen at her performance at Rockport Music/Sahlun Liu Performance Center in eastern Massachusetts.

At Café Stritch in San Jose, Bay Area-based writer Andy Gilbert presented Steve Turre with his Award for Trombonist of the Year on August 8 (during the third annual Rahsaanathon, in which Turre’s led his Eulipion Allstars). Gary Smulyan, Baritone Saxophonist of the Year, received his Award from photographer Enid Farber, during the August 10 performance of John Fedchock’s Big Band at the Blue Note (NYC) celebrating the release of its album Like It Is. Similarly David Adler, former editor of JJANews, presented Colombian harpist Edmar Castañeda with his Award for Player of Instruments Rare in Jazz at his performance at the Jazz Standard in Manhattan on August 12 –the date being Castañeda’s record release party for his new album World Ensemble.

Warren Wolf, Mallet Instrumentalist of the Year, was scheduled to receive his Jazz Award from JJA board member Don Palmer at Canton Castle jazz club in Baltimore on August 29, during a Vibes Explosion with fellow malleteer Justin Thomas, and that evening Pedrito Martinez accepted his Award as Percussionist of the Year at the Filene Center of Wolf Trap Performing Arts Theater in Vienna, VA from JJA founding member and former VP Willard Jenkins. 

In a first-time JJA activity in Puerto Rico, alto Saxophonist of the Year Miguel Zenon received his Award his at a concert of his suite Identities Are Changeable at the Conservatorio de Música in San Juan,  on Aug. 27 from presenter Wilbert Sostre.

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JJA Jazz Awards party at the Blue Note, June 16 2015

Arranger of the Year Maria Schneider  received her statuette at the Detroit Jazz Festival over labor day weekend from Linda Yohn of WEMU.

Up next: Guitarist of the Year Mary Halvorson will receive her Award from Jon Garelick, writer for the Boston Globe among other publications, at the Lilypad Inman in Cambridge MA on Sept. 9. Gregory Porter will receive his award for Male Vocalist of the Year at his Sept. 20 show in Pittsburgh at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture from JJA Jazz Hero Dr. Nelson Harrison.

The JJA plans to present Awards to Chick Corea (Keyboardist of the Year) and Brian Blade (Drummer of the Year) at the Monterey Jazz Festival, where they’re playing in trio with Bassist of the Year Christian McBride, who is also winner of the 2015 Willis Conover-Marian McPartland Award for Excellence in Broadcasting (as noted above, McBride already received his Bassist statuette and Katie Simon, producer of Jazz Night in America — co-produced by WBGO, NPR and Jazz at Lincoln Center — accepted the Conover-McPartland statuette on McBride’s behalf at the Jazz Awards party at the Blue Note in NYC on June 16.

Further into the calendar, the Wayne Shorter Quartet will receive its award for Mid-Sized Ensemble of the Year from John Gilbreath, executive director of Earshot Jazz who is also a radio program host and edits its Monthly Newsletter, at Benaroya Hall in Seattle on October 11. Regina Carter will be given her statuette for Violinist of the Year during her October stand at Sculler’s in Boston-Cambridge, October 16 or 17, Wadada Leo Smith will receive his award for Composer of the Year at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, on October 24. Jane Ira Bloom (Soprano Saxophonist of the Year) will receive her Award at Cornelia Street Café in Manhattan

Tenor saxophonist of the Year Chris Potter is scheduled to receive his Award on November 13 at a performance at A Place for Jazz, from Capitol Region jazz journalist J HunterNicole Mitchell (Flutist of the Year) wil receive her Award at a concert featuring Women of the AACM on December 10 in Chicago.

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Randy Weston at the Blue Note — Gary Giddins, right. Photo by Enid Farber

Jason Moran received his Award at the Blue Note party, where Kenny Barron accepted his Award for Pianist of the Year as well as Awards for Duo of the Year (bassist Dave Holland is his partner) and also Record of the Year for The Art of Conversation with Holland. Lennie White, drummer and producer, accepted the Award for Historic Record of the Year, Miles at the Fillmore, at the Blue Note, where Jana Herzen received Motema Music’s award for Label of the Year and Randy Weston presided as winner of the JJA’s 2015 Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Award.

Awards for music journalism were also presented at the Blue Note party.

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