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Herlin Riley's quintet, René Marie and trio, solo pianist John Beasley thrill the crowd

20th annual Jazz Awards party celebrates media-makers

Jun 28th, 2016 | By
Ted Panken smiles from right

Ted Panken, photo by Grayson Dantzic

Linda Yohn shows award

Linda Yohn with Award, photo by Grayson Dantzic

Journalist and broadcaster Ted Panken, a master interviewer, received the Jazz Journalists Association’s  2016 Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Award, WEMU (Ypsilanti MI) music director and program host Linda Yohn was given the JJA’s Willis Conover-Marian McPartland Award for excellence in broadcasting and DownBeat magazine was voted for the first time Best Periodical of the Year at the JJA’s 20th annual Jazz Awards party, held at the Blue Note Jazz Club in Manhattan on Wednesday, June 15.

Music was provided by solo pianist John Beasley, straight from leading his Monk’estra at the Hollywood Bowl, singer René Marie and her trio (on their way to a cd release party for Sound of Red) and New Orleans-based drummer Herlin Riley’s Quintet (as heard on his recently issued album New Direction).

Herlin Riley leads his band into crowd (Bruce Harris, trumpet), photo by Grayson Dantzic

John Szwed was Book of the Year Award winner for Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth and noted pianist Ethan Iverson won the Blog of the Year Award for his wide-ranging effort Do The Math. Nate Chinen, contributor to the New York Times and JazzTimes magazine, continued his streak of winning the Robert Palmer-Helen Oakley Dance Award for Excellence in Writing, and Ken Franckling was recognized a second time with the Lona Foote-Bob Parent Award for Excellence in Photography. Mike Park won the new category Original Album Art for his cover of Kamasi Washington’s The Epic; Patrick Marek won Photo of the Year for his image of baritone saxophonist Lucian Dubuis.


2016 JJA Photo of the Year — Lucian Dubuis, by Patrick Marek

All winners of Jazz Awards are viewable at www.JJAJazzAwards.org, and an extensive photo album with images by Grayson Dantzic,
Michael Jackson and Janice Wilkins is posted on the JJA’s flickr page.

As Rio Sakairi, artistic director of the Jazz Gallery, was hailed as New York Jazz Hero and Jane Ira Bloom accepted her award as Soprano Saxophonist of the Year — with Jana Herzen and Robin Tomchin onstage for Label of the Year Motéma Music and Erroll Garner Jazz Project principals Susan Rosenberg and Jocelyn Arun in attendance to take the Historic Record of the Year award for pianist Garner’s The Complete Concerts by the Sea — the two-and-a-half hour event was a gala celebration of a close knit yet widespread community of jazz movers and shakers. Geri Allen, the 2016 Pittsburgh Jazz Hero (also co-producer of The Complete Concerts by the Sea); Monica Herzig, a 2015 jazz Hero from Bloomington, Indiana; photographers Lech Basel from Poland and Petr Marek from the Czech Republic; radio series producer Jeremy Gossett from Oklahoma City; writer Rick Mitchell of Houston; former JJA vice-president Yvonne Ervin and her husband Alan Hershowitz of Tucson, drummer Charles Xavier and singer Kitty Margolis from the Bay Area were among those who’d traveled far to get to the Awards. The JJA’s development director Susan Brink drove in from upstate New York, and JJA president Howard Mandel made it in from Chicago.

Martin Mueller laughs

Martin Mueller in the audience at the Jazz Awards (Alan Hershowitz, right, cut off by frame), photo by Janice Wilkins

New York-based Martin Mueller, dean of the New School Jazz program and a 2005-inductee into the JJA’s “A Team” (now called Jazz Heroes) was in attendance, as was Al Pryor from Mack Avenue Records;  a delegation from Jazz at Lincoln Center including Cat Henry, who gave the traditional Prosecco toast to “All the nominees”‘ JazzTimes editor Evan Haga; writers Ashley KahnGiovanni Russonello, Enzo Capua, Ron Scott, Francis Davis, Dan Kassell and Joe Harrison; HalfNote producer Jeff Levenson; Joe and Barney Fields from Savant and High Note Records; Sarah Humphries and Tina Pelikan from ECM; Gwen Kelley, publisher of HotHouse magazine; singers Antoinette Montague and Joan Watson-Jones; Percussionist of the Year Pedrito Martinez; pianist-composer Amina Figarova and flutist Bart Platteau; pianist Bertha Hope, saxophonist David Murray, bassist Ark OvrutskiGreg “Organ Monk” Lewis, and many more.

simon rentner angelika beener

MCs Simon Rentner and Angelika Beener, photo by Janice Wilkins

There were approximately 100 attendees.

Award-winning journalist and blogger Angelika Beener and Simon Rentner, producer of The Checkout on WBGO, served as MCs. Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale and Scrimshaw lager were served as well as wine and appetizers from the Blue Note kitchen. Ms. Michal Shapiro videotaped the event, with assistance from Brian Pace; an edited version of the affair is forthcoming. Watch this space.

Sponsors for the 2016 JJA Jazz Awards included the Ella Fitzgerald Foundation, JazzAhead!, Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale, Berklee College of Music, the New School Jazz program, Mack Avenue Records, Motéma Music, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Resonance Records, Century Media Partners, BMI, the Newport Jazz Festival, Jazz Foundation of America, Jazz Institute of Chicago, WJPN, the Monterey Jazz Festival, SFJazz, the New Y0rk City Jazz Record, the Nash (Phoenix), Western Jazz Presenters Network, Braithwaite and Katz, Sunnyside Records, Mosaic Records, ECM, MCGJazz, Thirsty Ear Records, Scott Thompson PR., Jazz Promo Services, the Syracuse Jazz Festival, Jazzheads Records and WBGO.

Winners of the JJA Jazz Awards for musical achievement are receiving their engraved statuettes at their performances throughout the U.S. On the night of the Jazz Awards party, JJA member Chuck Obuchowski presented Maria Schneider at her concert in New Haven CT with five JJA Awards (for Musician of the Year, Composer of the Year, Arranger of the Year, Large Ensemble of the Year, and Record of the Year — The Thompson Fields) — and her orchestra member Scott Robinson with his Award for Player of Instruments Rare in Jazz.


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