Award Winners

The Jazz Journalists Association, a group of mainly New York-based jazz critics and writers, handed out its 2007 awards Thursday afternoon. Here are the winners, followed in parentheses by the musician that I voted for in each category:

Lifetime Achievement: Andrew Hill (I voted for Paul Motian. Hill was a giant, and he died this year after a long struggle with cancer; but sentiment aside, Motian’s drumming has been the stronger influence, and I figured this award should sometimes go to the living.)

Musician of the Year: Ornette Coleman (Ornette Coleman. Who else.)

Up & Coming Musician of the Year: Anat Cohen (Jenny Scheinman. I confess that, when I cast my ballot, I hadn’t yet heard Cohen’s gorgeous CD, Poetica. [See my blog of June 17.] If I had, I might have gone for her too, if just because she’s newer on the scene.)

Jazz Album of the Year: Ornette Coleman, Sound Grammar (No other album came close. It’s his best album in four decades)

Jazz Reissue of the Year, single CD: Charles Mingus, Music Written for Monterey, Not Heard, at UCLA 1965 (Duke Ellington, The Cosmic Scene. The Mingus is wild, but it’s also murky, strictly for cognoscenti. The Duke is a stripped-down version of his big band, nearly as unknown: slick and lithe and blazing with color; like hearing Mozart on a fortepiano for the first time.)

Jazz Reissue of the Year, boxed set: Thelonious Monk & John Coltrane, Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings (Mosaic Select’s Andrew Hill The Monk box was terrific, but all its music is out there. Everything in the magical Hill box is out of print and was always hard to find.)

Jazz Record Label of the Year: ECM (Agreed.)

Jazz Composer of the Year: Andrew Hill (I went with Ornette.)

Jazz Arranger of the Year: Maria Schneider (I love her, but she didn’t put out an album this year. I picked Charles Tolliver, whose big-band CD, With Love, was a tightly raucous kick.)

Male Jazz Singer of the Year: Kurt Elling (I left this one blank.)

Female Jazz Singer of the Year: Roberta Gambarini (Kendra Shank, whose Abbey Lincoln songbook, A Spirit Free, is a masterful breakthrough for one of the most elegant jazz singers)

Small Ensemble Group of the Year: Ornette Coleman’s Sound Grammar (Me, too; see above)

Large Ensemble Group of the Year: Charles Tolliver Big Band (ditto)

Trumpeter of the Year: Dave Douglas (Dave Douglas)

Alto Saxophonist of the Year: Ornette Coleman (Yes, no contest.)

Tenor Saxophonist of the Year: Sonny Rollins (Sonny Rollins—any other choice would be frivolous.)

Clarinetist of the Year: Anat Cohen (See above. I picked Don Byron by default, but now I’d pick Cohen. Byron’s the better clarinetist, but he put out nothing this year.)

Pianist of the Year: Andrew Hill (Keith Jarrett. See my blog of June 22.)

Guitarist of the Year: Pat Metheny (Bill Frisell; I find Metheny a snooze.)

Acoustic Bassist of the Year: Dave Holland (Greg Cohen is, hands down, the most versatile bassist today.)

Strings Player of the Year: Regina Carter (Jenny Scheinman)

Drummer of the Year: Roy Haynes (Roy Haynes is, in his 80s, the best drummer in jazz)

Tony T.'s picture

Booooo! Jack DeJohnette is THE greatest drummer in jazz today! He is the last innovator to come along. Just ask guys like Bill Stewart, Jeff Ballard, etc. He was recently voted into the Modern Drummer Magazine Hall Of Fame. However, that should have happened about two decades sooner! No one has invented a new way to swing since Jack. REQUIRED LISTENING: Pat Metheny "80/81", John Abercrombie "Timeless", Dave Holland Trio "Triplicate", plus Jarrett's Standards Trio, to name but a few! If you got ears, you gotta listen!