Wednesday, August 10, 2016


Downbeat Readers Poll

Voted today in Downbeat's Readers Poll: link here, go ahead and vote. Didn't intend on posting this, but took notes and finally decided my ballot might be of some small interest. In the Reader's Poll you only get one vote in each category. They conduct the poll using Survey Monkey, offering you a ballot of many suggestions for each category (usually two to five dozen, but up to 186 for Best Album) and the option to write something in. I almost always vote from the ballot, especially for albums even though my own lists prefer many things they left out. I list the categories below, my pick in bold (or bold italic for write-ins), followed by a few ballot items that I jotted down as possibilities on the first pass. Rarely I add a comment.

This is much quicker than filling out their Critics Poll ballot. My notes on that experience are here.

  • Hall of Fame: Anthony Braxton; Han Bennink, Paul Bley, Don Byas, Don Cherry, Abdullah Ibrahim, Illinois Jacquet, Professor Longhair, Sam Rivers, George Russell, Pharoah Sanders, Cedar Walton. (I usually pick Russell, but thought Braxton might have more chance. Obvious write-in candidates: Louis Jordan, Jimmy Rushing, Mal Waldron.)
  • Jazz Artist: Henry Threadgill; Anthony Braxton, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Douglas, Fred Hersch, Vijay Iyer, Steve Lehman, William Parker, Matthew Shipp, Wadada Leo Smith, Ken Vandermark.
  • Jazz Group: Mostly Other People Do the Killing; The Bad Plus, Microscopic Septet, Rova. (Write-in here. I generally don't like voting for artist name groups, and these made up approx. 90% of the ballot, so I thought an act of rebellion was in order.)
  • Big Band: Ken Vandermark Resonance Ensemble; Steven Bernstein Millennial Territory Orchestra, Either/Orchestra, ICP Orchestra, London Jazz Composers Orchestra, Vienna Art Orchestra. (Another write-in, doesn't always bear Vandermark's name, but let's be clear. Haven't noticed the other candidates being very active.)
  • Jazz Album (Released June 1, 2015 to May 31, 2016): Henry Threadgill, Old Locks and Irregular Verbs (Pi '16); other A- on ballot: Amir ElSaffar & Two Rivers Ensemble, Crisis (Pi); Barry Altschul 3dom Factor, Tales of the Unforeseen (TUM); Erik Friedlander, Oscalypso (Skipstone); Fred Hersch, Solo (Palmetto); Jack DeJohnette/Ravi Coltrane/Matthew Garrison, In Movement (ECM '16); Liberty Ellman, Radiate (Pi); Matthew Shipp Trio, The Conduct of Jazz (Thirsty Ear); Mike Reed's People, Places & Things, A New Kind of Dance (482 Music); Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Mauch Chunk (Hot Cup); Nate Wooley Quintet, (Dance To) The Early Music (Clean Feed); Nicole Mitchell/Tomeka Reid/Mike Reed, Artifacts (482 Music); Noah Preminger, Pivot: Live At 55 Bar (self release); Ochion Jewell Quartet, VOLK (self release); Sonny Rollins, Holding The Stage: Road Shows, Vol. 4 (Doxy/OKeh). Two full A albums not on ballot: Irène Schweizer/Han Bennink: Welcome Back (Intakt 8/15); Aly Keita/Jan Galega Brönnimann/Lucas Niggli: Kalo-Yele (Intakt 1/16). Only one Intakt album on ballot (Aruan Ortiz); guess they had to save room for: Concord/Telarc/MCG Jazz (11), ECM (11), Blue Note (10), Mack Avenue (10), Smoke Sessions (9), Sunnyside (9), Columbia/OKeh (7), HighNote/Savant (7), Motema (7). Clean Feed (5) did best among imports (after ECM, which is distributed by Universal in US so is really in a different league). Pi placed four records; they released six albums in 2015 and four so far this year.
  • Historical Album (Released June 1, 2015 to May 31, 2016): Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, All My Yesterdays: The Debut 1966 Recordings at the Village Vanguard (Resonance); other A- records: Blind Alfred Reed, Appalachian Visionary (Dust to Digital '16); Bobby Rush, Chicken Heads: A 50-Year History of Bobby Rush (Omnivore); Erroll Garner, The Complete Concert by the Sea (Sony Legacy); Miles Davis, Miles Davis At Newport: 1955-1975 The Bootleg Series Vol. 4 (Sony Legacy); Various Artists, The Rough Guide to the Blues Songsters (Rough Guide).
  • Trumpet: Wadada Leo Smith; Ralph Alessi, Steven Bernstein, Dave Douglas, Ingrid Jensen, Kirk Knuffke, Brian Lynch, Tomasz Stanko.
  • Trombone: Roswell Rudd; Ray Anderson, Jeb Bishop, Joe Fiedler, George Lewis, Phil Ranelin, Steve Swell.
  • Soprano Saxophone: Sam Newsome; Jan Garbarek, Evan Parker, Bob Wilber.
  • Alto Saxophone: François Carrier; Tim Berne, Anthony Braxton, Marty Ehrlich, Jon Irabagon, Lee Konitz, Oliver Lake, Steve Lehman, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Joe McPhee, Charles McPherson, Ted Nash, Henry Threadgill, Bobby Watson, Miguel Zenón, John Zorn.
  • Tenor Saxophone: Ivo Perelman; Harry Allen, JD Allen, Peter Brötzmann, James Carter, Charles Gayle, George Garzone, Jon Irabagon, Joe Lovano, Tony Malaby, Joe McPhee, David Murray, Larry Ochs, Evan Parker, Houston Person, Chris Potter, Ken Vandermark.
  • Baritone Saxophone: Brian Landrus; Hamiet Bluiett, Vinny Golia, Mats Gustafsson, Scott Robinson, Colin Stetson, Joe Temperley, Ken Vandermark.
  • Clarinet: Michael Moore; Evan Christopher, Anat Cohen, Eddie Daniels, Marty Ehrlich, Ben Goldberg, David Krakauer, Michel Portal, Perry Robinson, Louis Sclavis.
  • Flute: Nicole Mitchell.
  • Piano: Myra Melford; Kenny Barron, George Cables, Uri Caine, Marilyn Crispell, Satoko Fujii, David Hazeltine, Abdullah Ibrahim, Ethan Iverson, Vijay Iyer, Keith Jarrett, Misha Mengelberg, Alexander von Schlippenbach, Matthew Shipp, Craig Taborn. Huge ballot omission (was tempted to write her in): Irène Schweizer.
  • Keyboard: Jamie Saft; Nik Bärtsch, Uri Caine, Wayne Horvitz, John Medeski, Matthew Shipp, Craig Taborn, Gary Versace.
  • Organ: Gary Versace; Brian Charette, Mike LeDonne.
  • Guitar: Mary Halvorson; Rez Abbasi, John Abercrombie, Nels Cline, Liberty Ellman, Bill Frisell, Joe Morris, Marc Ribot.
  • Bass: William Parker; Ben Allison, Arild Andersen, Omer Avital, Stephan Crump, Mark Dresser, Michael Formanek, Drew Gress, John Hébert, Mark Helias, Dave Holland, Marc Johnson, Eric Revis, Peter Washington, Reggie Workman.
  • Electric Bass: Steve Swallow.
  • Violin: Jenny Scheinman; Charles Burnham, Jason Kao Hwang, Carlos Zingaro.
  • Drums: Andrew Cyrille; Han Bennink, Jim Black, Gerald Cleaver, Jack DeJohnette, Hamid Drake, Gerry Hemingway, John Hollenbeck, Lewis Nash, Bobby Previte, Matt Wilson.
  • Vibraphone: Karl Berger; Jason Adasiewicz, Khan Jamal, Joe Locke, Matt Moran, Warren Smith.
  • Percussion: Han Bennink; Kahil El'Zabar, Marilyn Mazur, Adam Rudolph, Warren Smith, Dan Weiss.
  • Miscellaneous Instrument: Erik Friedlander (cello); Rabih Abou-Khalil (oud), Edmar Castaneda (Colombian harp), Howard Johnson (tuba), Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello), Grégoire Maret (harmonica), David Murray (bass clarinet), Bob Stewart (tuba).
  • Male Vocalist: Freddy Cole.
  • Female Vocalist: Catherine Russell; Ernestine Anderson, Patricia Barber, Sheila Jordan, Diana Krall, René Marie, Mary Stallings, Fay Victor.
  • Composer: Carla Bley; Ben Allison, Steve Lehman, Henry Threadgill, John Zorn.
  • Arranger: Steven Bernstein.
  • Record Label: Intakt; Clean Feed, Delmark, No Business, Pi Recordings, anyone that sends me promos.
  • Blues Artist or Group: Dave & Phil Alvin; Guy Davis, Taj Mahal, Otis Taylor, James Blood Ulmer.
  • Blues Album (Released June 1, 2015 to May 31, 2016): Various Artists, God Don't Never Change: Songs Of Blind Willie Johnson (Alligator); only other A- record: The Ragpicker String Band, The Ragpicker String Band (Yellow Dog).
  • Beyond Artist or Group: Laurie Anderson; Erykah Badu, Courtney Barnett, Beyoncé, Chance the Rapper, Leonard Cohen, Flying Lotus, Future, Grimes, Carly Rae Jepsen, Kendrick Lamar, Willie Nelson, Parquet Courts, Rihanna, The Roots, Tinariwen, Kanye West, Neil Young.
  • Beyond Album (Released June 1, 2015 to May 31, 2016): Parquet Courts, Human Performance (Rough Trade '16); other A- records: Aesop Rock, The Impossible Kid (Rhymesayers '16); Anderson .Paak, Malibu (Steel Wool '16); Ashley Monroe, The Blade (Warner Bros. Nashville); BJ The Chicago Kid, In My Mind (Motown '16); Bonnie Raitt, Dig In Deep (Redwing '16); Carly Rae Jepsen, Emotion (604/Schoolboy/Interscope); Chance the Rapper, Coloring Book (self release '16); Erykah Badu, But You Caint Use My Phone (Motown/Control Freaq); Ezra Furman, Perpetual Motion People (Bella Union); Grimes, Art Angels (4AD); Rihanna, Anti (Westbury Road/Roc Nation '16).

I copied the full album ballots into the notebook as a check on how much I've heard (and still have to dig up). Of 186 new jazz albums, I've heard 112 (60.21%), grades breaking: [A-] 15, [***] 26, [**] 35, [*] 20, [B] 10, [B-] 4, [C+] 1, [C] 1, [C-] 1. I could do the same thing for Historical and Blues but my cut is extremely low. I have nothing to say about Beyond other than that records so labeled aren't what we used to call "far out."