2012 Jazz Journalists Association Awards

Three Jazz Journalists Association Awards for Sonny Rollins (Photo: www.sonnyrollins.com)

The Jazz Journalists' Association held its annual bash at the Blue Note jazz club in New York City Wednesday afternoon: crowded, boisterous, and, thankfully, air conditioned (it was 97 degrees out on the sidewalk).

The big winner—no surprise—was Sonny Rollins, who nabbed Best Musician of the Year, Best Tenor Saxophonist of the Year, and (for Road Shows, Vol. 2) Best Album of the Year. I voted for Rollins in all three categories as well—a rare instance when I've been at one with the consensus on the top prizes.

Here are some other highlights: first, who won; then, how I voted.

Historic Recording Of The Year:
Winner: Miles Davis, Bootleg Sessions, Vol. 1, Quintet Live in Europe, 1967.
My Pick: (ditto). One of the great live recordings of Miles' classic mid-'60s band.

Record Label Of The Year:
Winner: ECM.
My Pick: ECM. Other labels may have released better albums, but none put out an array of very good albums (and a few great ones) that capture quite as fully the range of the jazz of our time.

Composer-Arranger Of The Year:
Winner: Maria Schneider.
My Pick: Maria Schneider. Who else.

Large Ensemble Of The Year:
Winner: Mingus Big Band. My Pick: Maria Schneider. No problem with MBB, though.

Small Ensemble Of The Year:
Winner: Joe Lovano's Us Five.
My Pick: Jason Moran's Bandwagon. I like Lovano, but Moran's Bandwagon is not only the most inventive band but in peak form.

Pianist Of The Year:
Winner: Vijay Iyer.
My Pick: Keith Jarrett—though had he been nominated, I would have picked Jason Moran. No complaints about Iyer, though; his Accelerando CD is a wonder.

Bassist Of The Year:
Winner: Christian McBride.
My Pick: I can't remember whether I picked McBride (if so, it would have been for his work on Rollins' album) or Ben Allison; neither Charlie Haden nor Dave Holland was nominated.

Drummer Of The Year:
Winner: Roy Haynes.
My Pick: Paul Motian. Haynes may now be the best living drummer, but the magical Motian deserved the send-off.

Trumpeter Of The Year:
Winner: Ambrose Akinmusire.
My Pick: Ambrose Akinmusire—though I've realized, since filling out the ballot, that he's much better with his own material than playing with others.

Alto Saxophonist Of The Year:
Winner: Rudresh Mahanthappa.
My Pick: Rudresh Mahanthappa—among those nominated; I originally voted for Ornette Coleman, if just for his amazing duet with Sonny Rollins on the year's best album.

Clarinetist Of The Year:
Winner: Anat Cohen.
My Pick: Don Byron. I like Anat a lot, but Byron is king.

Multi-Reeds Player Of The Year:
Winner: Anat Cohen.
My Pick: James Carter. Even Anat was a bit startled to win this one.

Guitarist Of The Year:
Winner: Bill Frisell.
My Pick: Bill Frisell.

Violinist Of The Year:
Winner: Regina Carter.
My Pick: Jenny Scheinman.

The complete list of nominees and winners can be found here

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