The Jazz Journalists Association has announced the winners of its 25th annual JJA Jazz Awards. Professional journalist members of the JJA made open nominations in a first-selection round; those who received the most nominations advanced to the finalists’ ballot, and JJA’s professional members voted on them to arrive at these honorees.
Carla Bley received the JJA’s Lifetime Achievement Award and Terri Lyne Carrington was named Musician of the Year. Lakecia Benjamin was awarded Up and Coming Musician of the Year and 2020’s Composer of the Year. Branford Marsalis’s quartet recording The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul (OKeh Records) received the nod for Record of the Year.
Back in 2003, when we visited Carla Bley at her home in Willow, New York, she opined:
I’m not the listener’s cup of coffee or Coca-Cola. I’m more like the listener’s cup of pinhead gunmetal tea. And not a lot of people like pinhead gunmetal. So I understand that the coffee lovers are going to go somewhere else and I’m going to get this very small amount of people who like really weird things.
The community has finally caught up with Bley’s extraordinary, idiosyncratic music!
You can read the entire conversation here.
Other musicians who were honored with 2020 JJA awards are:
The Art Ensemble of Chicago – Large Ensemble of the Year
Jane Ira Bloom – Soprano Saxophonist of the Year
Terri Lyne Carrington – Drummer of the Year (in addition to Musician of the Year)
Anat Cohen – Clarinetist of the year
Kris Davis – Pianist of the Year (in addition to Composer of the Year)
Kurt Elling – Male Vocalist of the Year
Bill Frisell – Guitarist of the Year
Wycliffe Gordon – Trombonist of the Year
Herbie Hancock – Keyboardist of the Year
Zakir Hussain – Percussionist of the Year
Joe Lovano – Multiple Reeds Player of the Year
Allison Miller‘s Boom Tic Boom – Midsize Ensemble of the Year
Nicole Mitchell – Flutist of the Year
Linda May Han Oh – Bassist of the Year
Chris Potter – Tenor Saxophonist of the Year
Tomeka Reid – Strings player of the Year
Joel Ross – Mallet player of the Year
Cécile McLorin Salvant – Female Vocalist of the Year
Christian Scott aTundé Adjuah – Trumpeter of the Year
Lauren Sevian – Baritone Saxophonist of the Year
Brandee Younger (harp) – Player of Instruments Rare in Jazz
Miguel Zenón – Arranger of the Year and Alto Saxophonist of the Year
In addition, Eric Dolphy: Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions (on Resonance Records) received the accolade for Historical Record of the Year and ECM was awarded Label of the Year. The JJA also gave out a series of awards to journalists, publications and photographers. Stanley Crouch received the Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Journalism, Publication of the Year was JazzTimes, and Blog of the Year went to WBGO.org. That blog’s director of editorial content, Nate Chinen, was also the recipient of the Robert Palmer-Helen Oakley Dance Award for Excellence in Writing in 2019, Richard Hadlock received the Marian McPartland-Willis Conover Award for Lifetime Achievement in Broadcasting, and Mark Stryker’s Jazz from Detroit (University of Michigan Press) was named Book of the Year about Jazz. Richard Conde received the Lona Foote-Bob Parent Awards for Lifetime Achievement in Photography, the award for Photo of the Year went to Nedici Dragoslav for a photo of Jazzmeia Horn at the Belgrade Jazz Festival, and Album Art of the Year was awarded to Yashua Klos for A Wall Becomes of Bridge (an album by Kendrick Scott Oracle on Blue Note Records).
For further details of the 2020 JJA awardees and a complete list of the nominees, visit the JJA website.