Downbeat announces 2012 Critics Poll Winners

Downbeat Magazine released the complete list of the 2012 Critics Poll winners in their July issue. The 2012 poll was decided by 186 critics from around the globe. The Downbeat Poll is the most comprehensive poll in the jazz world, with results that show more than 1,000 artists or acts receiving votes in 62 categories. Vijay Iyer, Maria Schneider, and Christian McBride were among those winning in multiple categories.


Hall of Fame: Paul Motian
Veterans Committee Hall of Fame: Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt
Jazz Artist: Vijay Iyer
Jazz Album: Vijay Iyer Trio, Accelerando (ACT)
Historical Album: Miles Davis Quintet, Live In Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy)
Jazz Group: Vijay Iyer Trio
Big Band: Maria Schneider Orchestra
Trumpet: Ambrose Akinmusire
Trombone: Wycliffe Gordon
Soprano Saxophone: Branford Marsalis
Alto Saxophone: Rudresh Mahanthappa
Tenor Saxophone: Sonny Rollins
Baritone Saxophone: Gary Smulyan
Clarinet: Anat Cohen
Flute: Nicole Mitchell
Piano: Vijay Iyer
Keyboard: Herbie Hancock
Organ: Joey DeFrancesco
Guitar: Bill Frisell
Bass: Christian McBride
Electric Bass: Christian McBride
Violin: Regina Carter
Drums: Jack DeJohnette
Vibes: Bobby Hutcherson
Percussion: Zakir Hussain
Miscellaneous Instrument: Béla Fleck (banjo)
Male Vocalist: Kurt Elling
Female Vocalist: Cassandra Wilson
Composer: Maria Schneider
Arranger: Maria Schneider
Record Label: ECM
Producer: Manfred Eicher
Blues Artist or Group: Dr. John
Blues Album: Otis Taylor, Otis Taylor’s Contraband (Telarc)
Beyond Artist or Group: Robert Glasper Experiment
Beyond Album: Robert Glasper Experiment, Black Radio (Blue Note)


Rising Star Jazz Artist: Robert Glasper
Rising Star Jazz Group: Robert Glasper Trio
Rising Star Big Band: Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society
Rising Star Trumpet: Avishai Cohen
Rising Star Trombone: Josh Roseman
Rising Star Soprano Saxophone: Marcus Strickland
Rising Star Alto Saxophone: David Binney
Rising Star Tenor Saxophone: Anat Cohen
Rising Star Baritone Saxophone: Greg Tardy
Rising Star Clarinet: Evan Christopher
Rising Star Flute: Jamie Baum
Rising Star Piano: Robert Glasper
Rising Star Keyboard: Hiromi
Rising Star Organ: Mike LeDonne
Rising Star Guitar: Julian Lage
Rising Star Bass: Linda Oh
Rising Star Electric Bass: Derrick Hodge
Rising Star Violin: Jason Kao Hwang
Rising Star Drums: Marcus Gilmore
Rising Star Vibes: Chris Dingman
Rising Star Percussion: Dan Weiss
Rising Star Miscellaneous Instrument: Gary Versace (accordion)
Rising Star Male Vocalist: Giacomo Gates
Rising Star Female Vocalist: René Marie
Rising Star Composer: Vijay Iyer
Rising Star Arranger: John Hollenbeck
Rising Star Producer: Jeff Gauthier

“Now in Stores” XVII

Here are five more recent jazz releases worth giving a listen to:

1. Radio Music Society by Esperanza Spalding (Heads Up – March 20, 2012) CLICK HERE TO BUY

It has not taken Esperanza Spalding long to emerge as one of the brightest lights in the musical world. Listeners familiar with her stunning 2008 Heads Up International debut, Esperanza, and her best-selling 2010 release Chamber Music Society, were well aware that the young bassist, vocalist and composer from Portland, Oregon was the real deal, with a unique and style-spanning presence, deeply rooted in jazz yet destined to make her mark far beyond the jazz realm. That judgment was confirmed on February 13, 2011, when Spalding became the first jazz musician to receive the GRAMMY® Award for Best New Artist. With the release of Radio Music Society, her most diverse, ambitious and masterful recital yet. Each of the 12 songs are accompanied by conceptual music videos, which further express Esperanza’s inspiration and story behind each track. Shot in various locations including New York City; Barcelona, Spain; and Portland, Oregon; all videos will be available to purchasers of Radio Music Society as a digital download or a DVD on the deluxe version.

2. Accelerando by Vijay Iyer (Act Music & Vision – March 13, 2012) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Accelerando sees Vijay Iyer and his telepathic trio mates bassist Stephen Crump and drummer
Marcus Gilmore light up material that ranges from a brace of bold originals and pieces by great jazz composers to surprising interpretations of vintage pop and funk tunes.

3. Floratone II by Bill Frisell (Savoy Jazz, March 6, 2012) CLICK HERE TO BUY

On Floratone II, Frisell and original members (Matt Chamberlin, Tucker Martine, Lee Townsend) build on the successful concept that NPR proclaimed ‘the most riveting instrumental music to emerge this year. The original Floratone project was released on Blue Note in 2007 and was hailed as one of the best records of the year by jazz and mainstream outlets alike As one jazz’s most prolific and beloved artists, Bill Frisell continues his award-winning streak with yet another stunning body of work on Savoy Jazz.

4. The Well by Tord Gustavsen Trio (ECM Records – February 7, 2012) CLICK HERE TO BUY

First and foremost it was a very natural process for me. After the release of “Restored, Returned” we did some touring with the full quintet line-up and some touring as a quartet, but the quartet was the formation that kept developing the best as an ensemble. So it felt logical to keep that momentum and to write and build a repertoire for the quartet. Also it is a group of musicians that I really like to travel with and really like to play with, so it has over the past two or three years definitely developed into my main formation for touring.There are definitely strong parallels between playing with Tore and playing with a singer in that Tore is really a strong melodic thinker. He never plays too much. He is extremely into the lyrical side of the themes. And his phrasing is really singing. The way I interact with Tore is very much the same combination of supporting and challenging as you use with singers. But in the relationship between saxophone and piano it is natural to enter even more flexibly in and out of foreground and background roles, whereas the singer’s role almost by definition is in the foreground. Kristin Asbjørnsen did some very beautiful ensemble singing without words on our previous album – and when she does that it is just the same democratic interchange of musical flow as it is with an instrumentalist – but still a singer with words will always be more to the front. So with a sax player it is easier to be flexible in terms of changing roles or changing places within the ensemble.

5. The Continents: Concerto for Jazz Quintet & Chamber Orchestra by Chick Corea (Deutsche Grammophon – February 7, 2012) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Making music for a combination of orchestral musicians and jazz musicians has end-less possibilities. Appreciation for the abilities each has for the other makes for an atmosphere charged with high interest, creative communication and new ideas. This was the setting for the composing and recording of The Continents for me, a dream come true. The process of making the recording was magical. The morale of the musicians plus the recording team was so high that we finished recording the six movements of the concerto a day and a half under schedule. After saying goodbyes to the orchestra musicians, the Quintet had an impromptu jam just for fun. Of course, the recorder was on. I then had the next evening to record some piano solo bits that I thought would fit the cadenza sections of the concerto. After recording those, I felt there was still something incomplete about The Continents recording. So I decided to try to get to what it was by improvising on the piano by myself I felt that the basic material was somehow lacking something was missing.

“Now in Stores” XVI

“Now in Stores” XV

“Now in Stores” XIV

“Now in Stores” XIII

“Now in Stores” XII

“Now in Stores” XI

“Now in Stores” X

“Now In Stores” IX

“Now In Stores” VIII

“Now In Stores” VII

Now in Stores (Late May, June, and July)

“Now in Stores” – 5/16/2010 to 5/22/2010

“Now in Stores” – 5/2/2010 to 5/8/2010

Now in Stores” – 4/25/2010 to 5/1/2010

“Now in Stores” – 4/18/2010 t0 4/24/2010

“Now In Stores” – 5 Noteworthy Jazz Albums Released this Week (4/11/2010-4/17/10)

In Studio with Pianist Vijay Iyer


The Vijay Iyer Trio’s latest release, Historicity, won a number of “Album Of The Year” awards in 2010 and has been nominated for a 2011 Grammy as “Best Jazz Instrumental Album.”

Pianist, Vijay Iyer, seems pleased by this recognition but not really fazed by it. In fact, during his trio’s visit to the KPLU performance studios on February 8, they only played one piece of music from Historicity—”Smoke Stack” by one of Iyer’s mentors, Andrew Hill.

The trio also performed their arrangement of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” (as seen in the video below) as well as an original composition,Optimism,” which is an as-yet unrecorded work-in-progress.

Between songs KPLU Music Director, Nick Francis, talked with Iyer about the power (and the logic) of the jazz trio configuration of piano, bass and drums, as well as his journey from the world of science, where he holds a masters degree in physics, to the world of jazz where, some would say, he holds the future.