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JJA Jazz Awards 2017: The Banquet

Jun 25th, 2017 | By

Winners, from left: David Coates, Zev Feldman, Jack Kleinsinger, Ted Gioia, Wadada Leo Smith, Mark Ruffin, Ashley Kahn, Ethan Iverson, Howard Mandel, Frank Stewart. All photos on this page by Janis Wilkins.

The JJA celebrated its 21st annual Jazz Awards on June 6 2017 with a banquet at the Golden Unicorn in New York City’s Chinatown. Musician of the Year Wadada Leo Smith, Composer of the Year Ted Nash and Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Journalism honoree Ted Gioia were among the attendees.

Ted Gioia praises the value of jazz journalism

All  2017 Jazz Awards winners were announced online in May — 2017 Jazz Heroes were announced April 1 — and most of the musicians’ Awards are being presented at their performances throughout the summer. But most of the winners of the JJA’s awards for excellence in media (artist David Cowles, blogger-pianist Ethan Iverson, writer Ashley Kahn, photographer Frank Stewart, broadcaster Mark Ruffin and for DownBeat, associate editor Brian Zimmerman) were on hand for a feast of Cantonese cuisine (Krin Gabbard, author of Best Book of the Year for Better Git It In Your Soul, was missed).

Michael Lazaroff of the Jazz Cruise and Blue Note at Sea: “I have some idea of what it’s like to do what you do, since I write a column . . . “

Banquet sponsor Michael Lazaroff of the Jazz Cruise and Blue Note at Sea toasted “All the nominees,” saying he felt something like a jazz journalist as he’s writing a regular column for the newsletter of Entertainment Cruise Productions. Robbin Ahrold, of Century Media Partners and BMI’s Jazz Composers Workshop hailed jazz journalism as an essential component of the jazz ecosystem.

Jazz Heroes J. Michael Harrison and Jack Kleinsinger were present, as were musician Awardees bari saxophonist Claire Daly, trumpeter Brian Lynch and vocalist René Marie with her band’s pianist John Chin. Also reps from Awards-winning Resonance Records (Zev Feldman, Burton Yount), as well as Jazz at Lincoln Center (Jason Olaine, Cat Henry), Motéma Music (Robin Tomchin, Kacee Womack), HighNote/Savant Records’ Barney Fields and Jazz Forum Arts’ Mark Morganelli.

Wadada Leo Smith, Musician of the Year

Janis Wilkins took photos (as represented in this post), Michal Shapiro shot video, 2016 Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Journalism winner Ted Panken introduced Ted Gioia, and Howard Mandel served as Janis Wilkins took photos (as represented in this post), Michal Shapiro shot video, 2016 Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Journalism winner Ted Panken introduced Ted Gioia. Howard Mandel was emcee.

JJA members Allen Morrison, Bill Milkowski, Dan Kassell, Bonnie Johnson with her daughter, E.J. Decker, Aidan Levy, Enzo Capua, Gwen KelleyRon Scott, Carolyn McClair, David Adler, Jim Eigo, Susan Brink and

René Marie and Mark Ruffin at JJA banquet


unaffiliated friends Christine Passarella, John Gunther-Mohr, Dashiell Feiler, Sing Lathan, Harold Woodson, Roberta Lawrence, trumpeter-composer Glenn Makos, Valerie Ruffin, Velibor (“Hard Edge”) Pedevski, publicists Lydia Liebman (with Niamh White) and Cary Goldberg were also there.

JJA members Bill Beuttler and Bob Porter, and Chicago’s Jazz Hero Tomeka Reid had made reservations but sent regrets.

Banquet attendees at table

A complete set of Janis Wilkins’ photos are on view the JJA’s Flickr account. Video excerpts are forthcoming. Unlike  past Awards events, there was no live music at the 2017 Jazz Journalists Association banquet — but just as in the past, laughs were bountiful and fun was had.

Good food at the Golden Unicornpast Awards

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