Friday, August 9. 2013
After some nagging, voted in the Downbeat Readers Poll. (You should
Deadline August 16.) Spent very little time thinking about this, and
to the extent possible tried to wear my fan cap rather than thinking
too much like a critic (or an industry moocher). Anyhow, this is my
ballot (plus a few extra names). Note that unlike Downbeat's Critics
Poll there is no "rising star" category: this is for top dogs only.
- Hall of Fame: Lee Konitz; lots of credible options here,
but the short list: Anthony Braxton, Don Cherry, Tommy Flanagan,
Abdullah Ibrahim, Illinois Jacquet, Misha Mengelberg, Sam Rivers,
George Russell, Bud Shank. Blues choices, if you take that aspect
of Downbeat's universe seriously, are Muddy Waters and Professor
Longhair. Only Latin jazz guy on the ballot is Tito Puente, which
is a good place to start but barely scratches the surface. (I think
my top pick would be Pérez Prado.)
- Jazz Artist: Wadada Leo Smith; Anthony Braxton, Dave
Douglas, Jason Moran, William Parker, Ken Vandermark; I generally
ignore musicians who haven't recorded in the last year, even Ornette
Coleman and Sonny Rollins.
- Jazz Group: Mostly Other People Do the Killing.
- Big Band: Steven Bernstein Millennial Territory Orchestra.
- Jazz Album: Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Slippery Rock
(Hot Cup). Total nominated: 127 albums; my grade breakdown:
A: 1, A-: 19, B+(***): 25, B+(**): 18, B+(*): 17, B: 4, B-: 4,
nothing lower; unheard/ungraded: 39 (31%). The six-month offset makes
it hard to know exactly, but 20 A-list is probably only about 30% of
what I rated that high.
- Historical Album: Coleman Hawkins: Classic Coleman Hawkins
Sessions 1922-1947 (Mosaic); big caveat here is that I don't
have the big Mosaic box, although I do have a much cheaper Affinity
box with most of the same cuts, plus quite a bit of later material --
the Affinity box ends in 1941. I'd be surprised if Mosaic screwed this
up, or if any other box came close. They nominated 34 records. I've
heard/graded 8 of them, so 24%. Four of those eight I have at A-, so
I might have picked one -- Louis Armstrong: Satchmo at Symphony
Hall; Miles Davis: Live in Europe 1969; Bill Evans: Live
at Art D'Lugoff's Top of the Gate; Louisiana Red: When My Mama
Was Living -- but they're all pretty marginal, whereas Hawkins'
classics are essential (The Gramophone Guide called them "the
fount of all worthwhile saxophone playing").
- Trumpet: Wadada Leo Smith; Ralph Alessi, Steven Bernstein,
Dave Douglas, Dennis González, Randy Sandke, Tomasz Stanko.
- Trombone: Roswell Rudd; Ray Anderson, Joe Fiedler, Phil
Ranelin, Steve Swell, Steve Turre.
- Soprano Sax: Evan Parker; Brent Jensen, Bob Wilber.
- Alto Sax: Oliver Lake; Tim Berne, Anthony Braxton, François
Carrier, Lee Konitz, Oliver Lake, Steve Lehman, Rudresh Mahanthappa,
Ted Nash, Dave Rempis, Henry Threadgill, Miguel Zenon, John Zorn.
- Tenor Sax: David Murray; Harry Allen, James Carter, Jan
Garbarek, Charles Gayle, Charles Lloyd, Joe Lovano, Tony Malaby, Joe
McPhee, Larry Ochs, Evan Parker, Ivo Perelman, Houston Person, Chris
Potter, Ken Vandermark, David S. Ware. No Scott Hamilton? No Roscoe
Mitchell? And who is Anatoly Vapirov? Magnus Lindgren?
- Baritone Sax: Vinny Golia; Hamiet Bluiett, Mats Gustafsson,
- Clarinet: Michael Moore; Don Byron, Marty Ehrlich, Ben Goldberg,
Perry Robinson, Louis Sckavis, Ken Vandermark.
- Flute: Juhani Aaltonen.
- Piano: Satoko Fujii; Kenny Barron, Uri Caine, Abdullah Ibrahim,
Ethan Iverson, Vijay Iyer, Keith Jarrett, Myra Melford, Misha Mengelberg,
Jason Moran, Matthew Shipp, Alexander von Schlippenbach. No Irène Schweizer?
No Marilyn Crispell?
- Electronic Keyboard: Matthew Shipp; I know, I know.
- Organ: John Medeski.
- Guitar: Mary Halvorson; Peter Bernstein, Nels Cline, Bill Frisell,
Joe Morris, Bucky Pizzarelli, Marc Ribot; most unsatisfactory ballot, with
most of the better younger players omitted (aside from Halvorson, which is
a sore point, given that I don't get her better-regarded albums).
- Bass: William Parker; Ben Allison, Harrison Bankhead, Stephan
Crump, Mark Dresser, Michael Formanek, Barry Guy, Charlie Haden, John Hébert,
Mark Helias, Dave Holland, Peter Washington, Reggie Workman.
- Electric Bass: Stomu Takeishi.
- Violin: Jenny Scheinman; Charles Burnham, Jason Kao Hwang,
- Drums: Han Bennink; Joey Baron, Jim Black, Gerald Cleaver,
Andrew Cyrille, Jack DeJohnette, Hamid Drake, Billy Hart, Gerry Hemingway,
John Hollenbeck, Billy Martin, Lewis Nash, Paal Nilssen-Love, Tyshawn
Sorey, Matt Wilson.
- Vibes: Warren Smith; Joe Locke.
- Percussion: Kahil El'Zabar.
- Miscellaneous Instrument: Howard Johnson (tuba).
- Male Vocalist: Freddy Cole.
- Female Vocalist: Sheila Jordan; Dee Alexander, Diana Krall,
Fay Victor; no Lisa Sokolov?.
- Composer: Ben Allison.
- Arranger: Steve Bernstein.
- Record Label: Clean Feed.
- Blues Artist or Group: Eric Bibb.
- Blues Album: ZZ Top: La Futura (Universal Republic),
actually a high B+. They nominated 33 albums; I've heard 11, so 33.3%.
I do, by the way, have an A- blues album this year (not on their ballot):
Lurrie Bell: Blues in My Soul (Delmark). Had one last year, too:
Eric Bibb: Deeper in the Well (Stony Plain). Or two, if you
count Kid Koala's 12 Bit Blues (Ninja Tune).
- Beyond Artist or Group: Neil Young & Crazy Horse; Leonard
Cohen, Merle Haggard, Frank Ocean, The Roots, Raphael Saadiq, Tom Waits.
- Beyond Album: Killer Mike: R.A.P. Music (Williams
Street). They nominated 39 albums; I've heard 31, 79.5%, actually
higher than the 69.3% I've heard of the nominated jazz albums. I have
6 rated at A-, so the pick among them was somewhat arbitrary. That,
of course, is a tiny slice of my A-listed non-jazz.
Always surprises me how long it takes to wade through a poll like
this, even when they give you plenty of prompts. (It's possible to
write names in, but I didn't bother, figuring it's impossible for
write-ins to get anywhere near the listing level. I do some write-ins
for their Critics Poll, partly on the theory that they may affect how
they construct future ballots -- some reason to think that they do.)
Of course, a big chunk of that time is logging my own answers, but
some sort of worksheet is helpful.
One thing I didn't do is compare my votes here against my
Critics Poll votes.
(Although now that I am glancing back, I see that I came up
with the same answers in the four albums categories, despite
the three-month shift in eligibility. (They're not perfect in
that regard. When I went through the exercise of checking my
grades against their ballot listings, I found a couple 2011
releases on their ballot, and I'd bet there are more early
2012 releases than that.)
I won't bore you with the album lists, but they are (or will
be) in the notebook. Right now they're giving me inspiration to
check out some stuff on Rhapsody -- José James as I write this.