Downbeat Critics Poll: 2011

Who I voted for:

Hall of Fame: Lee Konitz (5), George Russell (3), Don Pullen (2). First pass: on ballot I would consider voting for: Abdullah Ibrahim, Anthony Braxton, Buck Clayton, Bud Freeman, Charlie Haden, Don Cherry, Gene Ammons, Herbie Nichols, Illinois Jacquet, Mildred Bailey, Paul Bley, Paul Motian, Shelly Manne, Sonny Stitt, Tommy Flanagan. Many more real good players on ballot. Off ballot, even more, but in this category not cost-effective to search for. David Murray is the first name that pops to mind, but Julius Hemphill is also not on the ballot; while the recently deceased tend to get a big boost (like Abbey Lincoln), Fred Anderson is also not on the ballot. Nor are any European greats (although Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli have previously been selected; also Joe Zawinul). Konitz has a good shot at winning, and no one deserves it more. Russell is the most important name on the ballot. Pullen is a personal favorite, a unique player, and dead, so he's not going to get any fresher.

Jazz Artist: William Parker (5), Ken Vandermark (3), Anthony Braxton (2). First pass: Bill Frisell, Dave Douglas, James Carter, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Vijay Iyer. Sloppy category, but my take on it is to pick artists who through their connections do more than the considerable amount they do themselves. Also true for everyone on first pass. If you preferred to pick the greatest players still standing, you'd get a different list, starting with Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman, Konitz, Braxton, maybe Dave Douglas. I've sort of decided not to consider write-ins except in the "rising star" category, unless a ballot gets really lame.

Rising Star -- Jazz Artist: Adam Lane (5), Steve Lehman (3), Mike Reed (2). First pass: Anat Cohen, Mary Halvorson, John Hébert, Matt Wilson, Miguel Zenón, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Ted Nash, Vijay Iyer. Write-ins are noted in bold italics. Ballot is very mixed here, including one name I only vaguely recognize and a couple others I regard as jokes. Again, the concept here is vague, so are the criteria.

Jazz Album of the Year (April 1, 2010-March 31, 2011): Billy Bang, Prayer for Peace (TUM) (5); Adam Lane's Full Throttle Orchestra, Ashcan Rantings (Clean Feed) (3); William Parker, I Plan to Stay a Believer: The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield (AUM Fidelity) (2). I would have placed Rudresh Mahanthappa & Steve Lehman, Dual Identity (Clean Feed) second except only evidence of release date was Mar. 2010. Some albums on ballot were released earlier, and very few albums on ballot were released in 2011, so the off-year offset confuses things and doesn't work very well. First pass (everything nominated I listed A- or higher): Anat Cohen, Clarinetwork: Live at the Village Vanguard (Anzic); Bill Frisell, Beautiful Dreamers (Savoy); David S. Ware, Onecept (AUM Fidelity); Fred Hersch, Whirl (Palmetto); Henry Threadgill Zooid, This Brings Us to Volume II (Pi); Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Forty Fort (Hot Cup); Nels Cline Singers, Initiate (Cryptogramophone); Stephan Crump, Reclamation (Sunnyside); Tin Hat, Healing Space (Mack Avenue); Tomasz Stanko Quintet, Dark Eyes (ECM). Obviously, that's only a small fraction of what I rated that high. Nominated albums I didn't hear: Amy Cervini, Lovefool (Orange Grove); Billy Childs, Autumn: In Moving Pictures (ArtistShare); Bob Belden, Autumn: In Moving Pictures (eONE); Brad Mehldau, Love Sublime (Naive); Charlie Hunter, Public Domain (Spire); Cindy Blackman, Another Lifetime (Four Quarters); Cyrus Chestnut Trio, Journeys (Jazz Legacy Productions); Dick Oatts, Two Hearts (Steeplechase); Eric Friedlander, Alchemy (Homair); Ernesto Cervini/Joel Frahm, Little Black Bird (Anzic); Ernie Krivda, November Man (CIMP); Hamid Drake-Bindu, Reggaeology (Rogue Art); Helena Gough, Mikroklimata (Entr'acte); Hilary Cole [sic: Kole], Haunted Heart (Justin Time); Ideal Bread, Transmit (Cuneiform); Jacob Anderskov, Agnostic Revelations (ILK); Karl Siegfried, Portrait of Jack Johnson (Imaginary Chicago); Marian Petrescu, Thrivin' Live at the Jazz Standard (Resonance); Mike Reed's Loose Assembly, Empathetic Parts (482 Music); New World Jazz Composers Octet, Transitions (Big & Phat Jazz); Olivia Block/Kyle Bruckmann, Teem (Either/OAR); Omer Klein, Rockets on the Balcony (Tzadik); Peter Erskine, The Interlochen Concert (Fuzzy Music); Ranee Lee, Lives Upstairs (Justin Time); Schlippenbach Trio, Bauhaus Dessau (Intakt); Walter Smith III, III (Criss Cross).

Historical Album (April 1, 2010-March 31, 2011): Commitment: The Complete Recordings 1981/1983 (No Business) (5) Wadada Leo Smith/Ed Blackwell, The Blue Mountain's Sun Drummer (Kabell) (3); New York Art Quartet, Old Stuff (Cuneiform) (2). First pass: Look, I got screwed here. Aside from the two vault records above (Commitment is a reissue and a write-in), and an advance on Miles Davis, Bitches Brew: 40th Anniversary Collector's Edition (Sony/Legacy) -- good music, no packaging -- the only things I heard from the ballot were from Rhapsody. I won't bother listing what I didn't get because that's virtually the whole ballot. Francis Davis insists on treating the vault material as new, so I looked even worse there.

Jazz Group: Vandermark Five (5), Rova (3), Microscopic Septet (2). First pass: Henry Threadgill Zooid, World Saxophone Quartet. I tend to look down on groups named for their leader -- aren't they extensions? -- unless there is at least one other significant contributor and/or they've been around a long time. Conspicuously not on the ballot: Claudia Quintet, Tin Hat, ICP Orchestra, Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Angles, Atomic, Nels Cline Singers.

Rising Star Jazz Group: Mostly Other People Do the Killing (5), Nik Bärtsch's Ronin (3), Angles (2). First pass: Atomic, Claudia Quintet, Mike Reed's Loose Assembly, The Cookers, The Wee Trio, Tin Hat. Angles had the better record last year, Ronin for several years running before. I could no doubt dig up more candidate groups. De Nazaten have two straight hits, and not just because they picked up James Carter to DH.

Big Band: ICP Orchestra (5), Peter Brotzmann Tentet (3), Steven Bernstein Millennial Territory Orchestra (2). First pass: Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Either/Orchestra, Gerald Wilson Big Band, Globe Unity Orchestra, Fred Ho and the Green Monster Big Band, John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, Satoko Fujii Orchestra, Vienna Art Orchestra, William Parker Little Huey. Stuck to ballot, but came close to writing in Anthony Brown's Asian American Orchestra.

Rising Star -- Big Band: Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra (5), Anthony Brown's Asian American Orchestra (3), Satoko Fujii Orchestra (2). First pass: Darcy James Argue's Secret Society. Thin ballot here. Seems like I might find some more if I dug a bit, especially down in the 8-10 size range.

Trumpet: Wadada Leo Smith (5), Steven Bernstein (3), Dave Douglas (2). First pass: Brian Lynch, John McNeil, Ralph Alessi, Tomasz Stanko. Rising stars who belong up here: Dennis Gonzalez, Roy Campbell. Non-ballot candidates: Enrico Rava, Herb Robertson, Jack Walrath, Kenny Wheeler, Paolo Fresu, Randy Sandke, Wallace Roney, Warren Vaché. Could have written Gonzalez and/or Sandke in, but figured list is so strong that would be pointless.

Rising Star -- Trumpet: Dennis Gonzalez (5), Peter Evans (3), Natsuki Tamura (2). First pass: Avishai Cohen, Darren Johnson [sic: Johnston], David Weiss, Nils Petter Molvaer, Roy Campbell, Steven Bernstein. Non-ballot candidates: Magnus Broo, Taylor Ho Bynum, Matt Lavelle, Natsuki Tamura, Nate Wooley. I include cornet players here, and almost voted for Bynum. Also came close to voting for Johnston, but misspelled name bothered me, then thought of Tamura.

Trombone: Steve Swell (5), Roswell Rudd (3), Wolter Wierbos (2). First pass: George Lewis, Jeb Bishop, Julian Priester, Ray Anderson, Steve Turre. Other candidates: Chris Barber, Conrad Bauer, Phil Ranelin. Swell had by far the best year, although Turre had a good album. Anderson is in an extended dry spell, otherwise he'd be my favorite (or at least second behind Rudd).

Rising Star -- Trombone: Luis Bonilla (5), Rafi Malkiel (3), Jeff Albert (2). First pass: Josh Roseman, Julian Priester, Marshall Gilkes. Other candidates: Alan Ferber, Joe Fiedler. Thin field, feels like I must be missing someone. Isn't Priester kind of old down here (76)?

Soprano Saxophone: Jan Garbarek (5), Jane Ira Bloom (3), Bob Wilber (2). First pass: Bruce Ackley, David Liebman, Evan Parker, Jane Bunnett, John Butcher, Michael Blake, Steve Wilson, Vinny Golia. Other candidates: Lol Coxhill, Joe Giardullo, Brent Jensen, Michael Marcus, Bob Wilber. The ballot is dominated by musicians who primarily play some other saxophone but occasionally break out the soprano, mostly in honor of John Coltrane. I'd rather go with specialists, and not just because I have trouble keeping track of which tenors are decent on soprano (I'm thinking Chris Potter, Marcus Strickland, Wayne Shorter) and which aren't (like Dave Liebman), mostly because none of them are better on soprano than they are on tenor (or whatever they play). Still, there are so few obvious candidates since Steve Lacy passed I wound up writing two names in of saxophonists who have played a lot of soprano but probably more of something else, because at least they're so distinctive.

Rising Star -- Soprano Saxophone: Bruce Ackley (5), Brent Jensen (3), Mike Ellis (2). First pass: Vinny Golia. Other candidates: Steve Adams, Mihaly Borbely, Allon Farber, Peter Epstein. Again, real short here. Ackley doesn't really belong here -- he's 63 -- but maybe we can vote him up. Jensen and Ellis have had good albums. Borbely too, but I've only heard one, quite a while ago.

Alto Saxophone: Tim Berne (5), Anthony Braxton (3), Lee Konitz (2). First pass: Bobby Watson, Bud Shank (RIP), Charles McPherson, Dave Rempis, David Binney, Dick Oatts, Greg Osby, Henry Threadgill, Jim Snidero, Joe McPhee, John Zorn, Jon Irabagon, Marty Ehrlich, Miguel Zenón, Oliver Lake, Ornette Coleman, Phil Woods, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Steve Wilson, Ted Nash. Other candidates: Arthur Blythe, Abraham Burton, Bob Wilber, François Carrier, Daniel Carter, Frank Gratkowski, Joel Frahm, Mario Schiano, Mark Whitecage, Marshall Allen, Michael Hashim, Michael Moore, Mike Osborne, Philip Johnston, Rob Brown, Roy Nathanson, Sabir Mateen, Sonny Simmons, Steve Lehman, Steve Slagle, Trevor Watts, Vincent Herring. Faced with so many choices, I scratched off the younger players first (Lehman, Mahanthappa, Zenón, Irabagon), shoved Coleman aside for not releasing anything new (on the other hand, Braxton and Konitz are pretty active), and still had to struggle. Wanted to jot down two guys who get more credit on clarinet even though they're better on alto (Ehrlich and Moore). I have Burton and Hashim down for alto, but they've been playing more tenor lately.

Rising Star -- Alto Saxophone: Steve Lehman (5), François Carrier (3), Jon Irabagon (2). First pass: Darius Jones, Dave Rempis, David Binney, Sherman Irby, Ted Nash. Other candidates: Alex Kontorovich, Alexander McCabe Andy Laster, Aram Shelton, Benjamin Herman, Dmitri Baevsky, Ian Hendrickson-Smith, Jim Hobbs, Martin Küchen, Ingrid Laubrock, John O'Gallagher, Logan Richardson, Mike DiRubbo, Pete Robbins, Zaid Nasser. Looks like Mahanthappa and Zenón graduated from the ballot, although they're younger than many who are stuck here (like Nash at 52, or Binney at 50). I like a lot of people on this list.

Tenor Saxophone: David Murray (5), Ken Vandermark (3), David S. Ware (2). First pass: Charles Lloyd, Chris Potter, Donny McCaslin, Eric Alexander, Evan Parker, Fred Anderson (RIP), George Garzone, Houston Person, James Carter, James Moody (RIP), Joe Lovano, Joel Frahm, Joshua Redman, Mark Turner, Odean Pope, Peter Brötzmann, Sonny Rollins, Tony Malaby, Von Freeman, Wayne Shorter, Willem Breuker (RIP). Other candidates: Bennie Wallace, Billy Harper, Charles Gayle, Dave Liebman, David Sanchez, Gato Barbieri, Gebhard Ullman, Harry Allen, Jan Garbarek, Jerry Bergonzi, Joe McPhee, Juhani Aaltonen, Larry Ochs, Pharoah Sanders, Rich Halley, Archie Shepp, Scott Hamilton, Tommy Smith. My favorite instrument, I could write down a couple dozen names before I started having doubts. I could have held Vandermark back for age, but he's 57, and I can't think of who on the ballot has more records -- not Rollins, not Murray, maybe Evan Parker. Wish I could include Houston, Hamilton, Carter, Smith, Allen, lots more.

Rising Star -- Tenor Saxophone: Ellery Eskelin (5), Ivo Perelman (3), Tony Malaby (2). First pass: Abraham Burton, Anat Cohen, Grant Stewart, J.D. Allen, Jon Irabagon, Hakon Kornstad, Marcus Strickland, Mark Turner, Mats Gustafsson, Tim Warfield, Other candidates: Adam Pieronczyk, Assif Tsahar, Chris Byars, Chris Cheek, Chris Speed, Dave Rempis, Gilad Atzmon, Gorka Benitez, Mark Shim, Rodrigo Amado. Ballot strikes me as screwy -- some genuine rising stars (like Strickland and Allen), more who have plateaued, a couple of Europeans picked for no obvious reason. My picks have been around a while -- Malaby is same age as Vandermark, Perelman is three years older, Eskelin two years older still, but they have half as many records combined, and none are slouches.

Baritone Saxophone: Hamiett Bluiett (5), Gebhard Ullmann (3), Mats Gustafsson (2). First pass: Gary Smulyan, Howard Johnson, James Carter, Joe Temperley, John Surman, Ken Vandermark, Tim Berne, Vinny Golia. Other candidates: Scott Robinson. Like soprano, a lot of the names on the ballot doubled up from other reeds, but because there's so little competition they bubble up to the top here -- Carter has won this without coming close on tenor, and Vandermark and Berne on the ballot here but nowhere else. Two of my picks belong elsewhere too, but not by big margins. I've picked on Carter in the past in this category, but he plays nothing but baritone on two terrific De Nazaten albums.

Rising Star -- Baritone Saxophone: Gebhard Ullmann (5), Brian Landrus (3), Adam Schroeder (2). First pass: That's it. Other candidates: Charles Evans. Very thin here.

Clarinet: Perry Robinson (5), Louis Sclavis (3), Michael Moore (2). First pass: Anat Cohen, Ben Goldberg, Chris Speed, Don Byron, Eddie Daniels, François Houle, Gebhard Ullmann, Ken Vandermark, Marty Ehrlich, Michael Moore, Paquito D'Rivera, Other candidates: Alan Barnes, Allan Vaché, André Jaume, Lajos Dudas. Was going with the specialists until I decided to drop Goldberg to rising star and slipped in Moore, over Ehrlich and Speed, who play a lot of clarinet though maybe not mostly. Vandermark is also notable here.

Rising Star -- Clarinet: Ben Goldberg (5), Evan Christopher (3), François Houle (2). First pass: Gianluigi Trovesi, Rudi Mahal. Other candidates: Antti Sarpila, Andy Biskin, Avram Fefer, Mort Weiss. Ballot duplicates most of the main list with little regard for age -- Robinson (73) and Sclavis (58) are still considered rising stars, but Anat Cohen (36) isn't. On the other hand, I added Weiss here at 76, since he's only been at it for ten years or so.

Flute: Dave Valentin (5), Robert Dick (3), Steve Adams (2). First pass: Henry Threadgill, James Moody (RIP), Jane Bunnett, Mark Weinstein, Nicole Mitchell, Vinny Golia, Wolfgang Puschnig. Don't care much for flute, unless Dick drags out his heavy artillery, in which case I probably should have written in Bill Cole's name. But if you have to play the things, they hold up best in Latin music.

Rising Star -- Flute: Kali Z. Fasteau (5), Mark Weinstein (3), Sam Most (2). First pass: nothing much. Fasteau plays flute-like exotics, avoiding the worst traps. Weinstein goes Latin. It thought kind of funny that at 81 Most's star is still deemed rising.

Piano: Myra Melford (5), Matthew Shipp (3), Marilyn Crispell (2). First pass: Alexander Von Schlippenbach, Bill Charlap, Cecil Taylor, Dave Brubeck, Dick Hyman, Fred Hersch, Hank Jones (RIP), Jason Moran, Keith Jarrett, Kenny Barron, Martial Solal, McCoy Tyner, Uri Caine. Other candidates: Abdullah Ibrahim, Borah Bergman, Cedar Walton, Dave Burrell, Eddie Palmieri, Hal Galper, Giorgio Gaslini, Irène Schweizer, Misha Mengelberg, Muhal Richard Abrams, Paul Bley, Ran Blake, Randy Weston, Steve Kuhn, Vyacheslav Ganelin. More prominent jazz musicians play piano than any other instrument, by a big margin, so this category is the tightest by far. I started by dropping every name from the rising star ballot, which knocked off Vijay Iyer and Satoko Fujii but left Shipp, Charlap, and Moran. (Also knocked off some folks who don't belong anywhere near this ballot, like Robert Glasper and Taylor Eigsti, although it left Ramsey Lewis in contention.) I used 1956-58 as a dividing line in adding candidates -- Caine (1956), Melford (1957), and Shipp (1960) are here; David Hazeltine (1958) is probably the oldest American on the rising star list; Fujii is also 1958, but Enrico Pieranunzi is 1949. Given such broad choices, I went with pianists I feel especially close to, although I could easily make a case for many others.

Rising Star -- Piano: Satoko Fujii (5), Vijay Iyer (3), Enrico Pieranunzi (2). First pass: Craig Taborn, David Hazeltine, George Colligan, Luis Perdomo, Ross Lossing. Other candidates: Albert Van Veenendaal, Bernardo Sassetti, Bill Carrothers, Eliane Elias, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Ismael Dueñas, Jean-Michel Pilc, Júlio Resende, Kris Davis, Marcin Wasilewski, Nik Bärtsch, Pandelis Karayorgis, Sergi Sirvent. Went with the ballot here. Bärtsch is the most successful of the younger players, although his style is close to the electric keyb players, something he achieves (almost always) on acoustic.

Electronic Keyboard: Matthew Shipp (5), Craig Taborn (3), Uri Caine (2). First pass: George Colligan, John Medeski. Although one runs into a lot of Fender Rhodes these days, very few pianists have distinguished themselves on electronic keyboards. Mostly acoustic pianists here with electronic side projects -- Taborn is the only one you'd characterize as mostly electronic, and not by much. Shipp the least, but his DJ albums have been the most successful, even when he plays acoustic.

Rising Star -- Electronic Keyboard: Nik Bärtsch (5), George Colligan (3), Rob Mazurek (2). First pass: nothing much. Again, this hasn't really developed, mostly because even keyboardists with ideas along these lines are more inclined to play acoustic. It might be better to expand this category to include all manner of electronics -- Mazurek is a cornet player who dabbles on laptop. So why not Kieran Hebden, a real laptop musician?

Organ: John Medeski (5), Mike LeDonne (3), Joey DeFrancesco (2). First pass: Barbare Dennerlein, Gary Versace, Larry Goldings. Pretty much a dinosaur category, although I'm amazed how hard it is to kill. Matthew Shipp is on the ballot, although I can't recall him ever playing organ.

Rising Star -- Organ: Vince Seneri (5), Jared Gold (3), Cor Fuhler (2). First pass: Pretty much the same list. Other candidates: Niclas Knudsen, Robert Walter. Best organ record I heard all decade was Ibrahim Electric Meets Ray Anderson, with Knudsen on organ, although that wasn't what made it good. Seneri has a Hammond dealership in NJ; shows you what a guy who's committed can do.

Violin: Billy Bang (5), Jason Hwang (3), Charles Burnham (2). First pass: Carla Kihlstedt, Jenny Scheinman, Mary Oliver, Mat Maneri, Regina Carter, Rob Thomas. First two were automatic. Most years Scheinman would have been my third pick.

Rising Star -- Violin: Carla Kihlstedt (5), Aaron Weinstein (3), Jesse Zubot (2), First pass: Christian Howes, Zack Brock. Other candidates: John Ettinger, Meg Okura. The number and quality of jazz violinists are increasing, but it's still a minor instrument. Would be a more robust category if it included viola (Mat Maneri, Eivind Kang), a very similar instrument. (Wouldn't mind adding cello too, but it leans more toward bass with some players like Ron Carter overlapping.)

Guitar: Bill Frisell (5), Nels Cline (3), Joe Morris (2). First pass: Howard Alden, Jim Hall, John Abercrombie, John McLaughlin, Marc Ribot, Ralph Towner, Russell Malone, Steve Tibbetts, Other candidates: Billy Jenkins, Dave Stryker, James Blood Ulmer, Marc Ducret, Michael Musillami, Pierre Dørge, Raoul Björkenheim, Terje Rypdal, Ulf Wakenius, Wolfgang Muthspiel. There are more jazz guitarists now than ever, a number that is growing steadily. It is also the only instrument where we see significant stylistic expansion. Again, I dropped those on the rising star ballot, not that it made much difference.

Rising Star -- Guitar: Liberty Ellman (5), Anders Nilsson (3), Jeff Parker (2). First pass: Joe Cohn, Mary Halvorson, Peter Bernstein. Other candidates: Brad Shepik, Gordon Grdina, Kevin O'Neill, Luis Lopes, Mark O'Leary, Pete McCann, Rez Abbasi, Samo Salamon, Scott DuBois. Again, a lot of stylistic range here. Came close to writing in Shepik and/or Grdina, and could have gone with Abbasi as well. I've heard good and bad things by Halvorson; don't get her records, so she's hard to puzzle out.

Bass: William Parker (5), Peter Washington (3), Henry Grimes (2). First pass: Ben Allison, Charlie Haden, Christian McBride, Dave Holland, Gary Peacock, Marc Johnson, Michael Formanek, Ray Drummond, Reggie Workman, Ron Carter, Other candidates: Barre Phillips, Joe Fonda, John Lindberg, Mario Pavone, Mark Helias. After Parker there are several options: Haden and Holland are more important in the long run, Allison is a superior composer, Workman is someone I feel a personal bond to. Washington has no records under his name, but everything he touches is superb. Grimes has a big hole in his career, but early on he was in all the right places, and he totally carries two recent records with Rashied Ali.

Rising Star -- Bass: Adam Lane (5), John Hébert (3), Moppa Elliott (2). First pass: Arild Andersen, Avishai Cohen, Barry Guy, Drew Gress, Greg Cohen, Joelle Leandre, Linda Oh, Mark Dresser, Nicki Parrott, Omer Avital, Scott Colley. Other candidates: Arthur Kell, Eivind Opsvik, Ken Filiano, Marcin Oles, Pablo Aslan, Stephan Crump. Some of these are 60+ (Andersen, Guy, Léandre; Dresser is 59), so they're about where they're gonna be. Lane and Elliott lead bands and compose. Hébert is the best of severals who always seem to show up on good records (Filiano and Gress are others).

Electric Bass: Stomu Takeishi (5), Nate McBride (3), James Genus (2). First pass: Jamaldeen Tacuma [sic: Jamaaladeen], John Patitucci, Steve Swallow, Other candidates: Melvin Gibbs, Chris Morrissey, Massimo Pupillo. I don't have good records on who plays electric vs. acoustic bass. The ballot includes some good bassists who I never think of as playing electric (Ben Allison, Avishai Cohen, Drew Gress, John Patitucci) so I have no idea where to divide their work. Many others are of no real interest, so I'm just sort of picking my way around. McBride started electric, but most of what I've heard from him lately has been acoustic.

Rising Star -- Electric Bass: Tommy Babin (5), Melvin Gibbs (3), Chris Morrissey (2). First pass: None. I don't even recognize more than half of the names on the ballot. Of those I do recognize, what makes Bob Cranshaw a rising star at 79?

Drums: Andrew Cyrille (5), Hamid Drake (3), Lewis Nash (2). First pass: Al Foster, Bill Stewart, Bobby Previte, Han Bennink, Jack DeJohnette, Joey Baron, Matt Wilson, Paul Motian, Peter Erskine, Roy Haynes. Other candidates: Billy Hart, Paul Lytton, Louis Moholo, Sunny Murray, Tony Oxley. Again, I slipped in a mainstream guy with no name records (Nash). Once again I skipped everyone on the rising star ballot, which may have cost Gerry Hemingway, but then I could also have picked Motian and/or DeJohnette without regrets. Or Baron or Wilson, for that matter.

Rising Star -- Drums: Gerry Hemingway (5), Jim Black (3), Paal Nilssen-Love (2). First pass: Allison Miller, Dafnis Prieto, Dan Weiss, Gerald Cleaver, Mike Reed, Nasheet Waits, Paul Lovens, Scott Amendola. Other candidates: Anthony Brown, Dave King, Eric Harland, John Hollenbeck, Richie Barshay, Stefan Pasborg, Thomas Strønen, Tom Rainey, Tyshawn Sorey. Didn't expect Hemingway (56) on this list. Surprised that Hollenbeck in particular was left off. Lots of good young drummers.

Vibes: Joe Locke (5), Mike Mainieri (3), Kevin Norton (2). First pass: Gunter Hampel, Khan Jamal, Steve Nelson, Other candidates: Bill Ware, Kenny Wollesen. Jamal might be my pick but I haven't heard anything from him in ages. Seems like there are more drummers who dabble in vibes, but I'm having trouble coming up with them.

Rising Star -- Vibes: Matt Moran (5), Jason Adasiewicz (3), Bryan Carrott (2). First pass: That's about it. Some new players coming up, but few have proven much. The ballot is almost a subset of the main list, with players as old as Gunter Hampel (74) and Teddy Charles (83).

Percussion: Kahil El'Zabar (5), Roberto Juan Rodriguez (3), Warren Smith (2). First pass: Adam Rudolph, Bobby Sanabria, Dan Weiss, Hamid Drake, Han Bennink, Mino Cinelu, Satoshi Takeishi, Susie Ibarra, Zakir Hussain. Other candidates: Gregg Bendian, Marilyn Mazur, Milford Graves. Bastard category, mixing big-time Latin congaleros and timbaleros with all sorts of obscure percussion tricks, including some drummers (like Bennink) who play outside their kits.

Rising Star -- Percussion: Kevin Diehl (5), Dan Weiss (3), Ravish Momin (2). First pass: Arto Tuncoboyican. Other candidates: Billy Fox, Jerry Leake. Diehl leads Sonic Liberation Front, with its bata drums.

Miscellaneous Instrument: David Murray (bass clarinet) (5), Bob Stewart (tuba) (3), Rabih Abou-Khalil (oud) (2). First pass: Dino Saluzzi (bandoneon), Eric Friedlander (cello), Ernst Reijseger (cello), Gary Versace (accordion), Gregoire Maret (harmonica), Howard Johnson (tuba), Myra Melford (harmonium), Richard Galliano (accordion), Scott Robinson (bass sax), Toots Thielemans (harmonica), Other candidates: Bill Cole (didgeridoo), John Gill (banjo), Michael Marcus (manzello/stritch), Paul Dunmall (bagpipes), Peter Brötzmann (tarogato), Philipp Wachsmann (electronics). Nearly impossible for me to search. Hard to compare one thing to another. In the end I just picked interesting cases off the menu (then regretted not picking Bill Cole, but he really needs to be credited for a wide range of instruments).

Rising Star -- Miscellaneous Instrument: Cooper-Moore (diddley bow) (5), Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello) (3), Eivind Kang (viola) (2). First pass: Other candidates: Ben Stapp (tuba), Daniel Levin (cello), Kali Z. Fasteau (ney), Marcus Rojas (tuba).

Male Vocalist: Freddy Cole (5), Mose Allison (3), Theo Bleckmann (2). First pass: Bob Dorough, Kevin Mahogany. Other candidates: Don't have a master list handy.

Rising Star -- Male Vocalist: Jamie Davis (5), Giacomo Gates (3), Tony DeSare (2). First pass: Other candidates: Mark Winkler. These guys are all down in my HM range. There's very little to pick and choose from here.

Female Vocalist: Sheila Jordan (5), Diana Krall (3), Patricia Barber (2). First pass: Cassandra Wilson, Fay Victor, Roberta Gambarini, Tierney Sutton. Other candidates: Lisa Sokolov, Mary Stallings. Held Sokolov and Victor back for rising star, although they're probably as old or older than Krall and Barber.

Rising Star -- Female Vocalist: Lisa Sokolov (5), Fay Victor (3), Nicki Parrott (2). First pass: Other candidates: Joan Crowe, Maria Anadon. Parrott is a bassist who sings some; I find her especially pleasant. There are probably four times as many female as male jazz singers. I never got around to extending my cribsheet to vocalists, so I scanned my database. Lots of names. Few really good records. Jazz vocals are a set of marginal niche interests, none of them terribly interesting or for that matter all that well aligned with instrumental jazz, even when the bands are the same. The best vocalists go elsewhere, leaving jazz to pick from the likes of Bobby McFerrin, Harry Connick, and Kurt Elling. Expand the field and you would get to choose from Al Green, Van Morrison, and George Jones.

Composer: Ornette Coleman (5), John Zorn (3), Carla Bley (2). First pass: Ben Allison, Dave Holland, Gerald Wilson, Moppa Elliott, Randy Weston, Steve Lehman. I'd look for people who write pieces that others perform, but I can't find them. The closest on the list I find is Coleman, who's been around long enough that early pieces like "Lonely Woman" have entered the standard repertory. Sonny Rollins has songs like that too, but didn't get nominated. As for younger musicians, everyone's a composer nowadays, but it's hard to isolate the composition from the performance because there are no other cross references.

Rising Star -- Composer: Ben Allison (5), Steve Lehman (3), Adam Lane (2). First pass: Chris Byars, Jason Moran, Moppa Elliott, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Vijay Iyer. Allison writes the most indelible tunes of anyone working today; Lehman's a master conceptualist. Added Lane because he fits the Mingus bassist-composer model. Could have come up with other names had I worked on it, but I'd just be poking around in something I don't understand all that well.

Arranger: Steven Bernstein (5), Gerald Wilson (3), Allen Toussaint (2). First pass: Bob Brookmeyer, Carla Bley, Dave Holland David Weiss, William Parker. Mostly a big band skill, but I can think of small group examples for Bernstein as well. Couldn't resist Toussaint since he was on the ballot.

Rising Star -- Arranger: David Weiss (5), John Hollenbeck (3), Ted Nash (2). First pass: Ben Allison, Darcy James Argue, Chie Imaizumi, Marcus Shelby. Not having especially strong opinions here, I pick out some people I generally like who seem generally appropriate.

Record Label: Clean Feed (5), ECM (3), Sunnyside (2). First pass: Arbors, Aum Fidelity, Cuneiform, Delmark, HighNote, Intakt, Leo, Nonesuch, Origin, Pi, Posi-Tone, Tzadik. Other candidates: Fresh Sound, Not Two, Okka Disk, Porter, Smalltown Superjazz, Stomp Off. Two factors come into play here: how good the records are, and how well the company treats the critic. I've included a couple of companies that don't service me (Intakt, Leo, Not Two, Stomp Off), Tzadik (which doesn't service anyone, so at least that's not personal). Blue Note used to always win this, but I get less than half of what they release, and they release maybe a third of what they used to. So it's inevitable that these personal experiences will affect the poll. Still, in the end the records do matter. Clean Feed scored 6 A/A- records in 2010, 17 high B+, a really remarkable performance. ECM wound up 2 and 9; Sunnyside 3 and 6, both pretty good. (Blue Note was 0 and 1. Tzadik, which I mostly covered from Rhapsody, was 1 and 5. Firehouse 12, which doesn't think I'm good enough to review their records, was 1 and 1.)

Producer: Steven Joerg (5), Mark Free (3), David Binney (2). First pass: Luke Kaven, Manfred Eicher, Michael Cuscuna. I have no strong opinions here. Producers don't seem to be a big factor in jazz -- they certainly don't qualify as auteurs like Phil Spector, although Eicher does seem to be able to chill everyone down. I just jotted down a few names of people I noticed during the year -- two small label owners who do their own work, a musician I hadn't voted for elsewhere. I could probably dig up more people like those if I kept better records of such things.

Rising Star -- Producer: John Corbett (5), Bruno Johnson (3), Jeff Gauthier (2). First pass: Branford Marsalis. OK, this is weird: wrote in three names above, then found three names on rising star ballot I could vote for. No idea how this happened, or what it means. Obviously, I could have swapped the two and had it make as much sense.

Blues Artist or Group: James Blood Ulmer (5), Sue Foley (3), Carolina Chocolate Drops (2). First pass: B.B. King, Eric Bibb, Mose Allison, Otis Taylor, Taj Mahal.

Blues Album (April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011): James Blood Ulmer, In and Out (In+Out) (5), T-Model Ford: Taledragger (Alive) (3), Peter Karp & Sue Foley, He Said, She Said (Blind Pig) (2). First pass: Holmes Brothers, Feed My Soul (Alligator). Very little on the ballot that I've heard (maybe a couple things I should check out. The Ulmer album wasn't noticed on a German label (I was fortunate to get it), but it's as good as any of his recent string. The T-Model Ford is a Jan. 2011 release. Presumably the Carolina Chocolate Drops album came out too early in 2010, but I didn't look it up. The Buddy Guy album was awful.

Beyond Artist or Group: Kanye West (5), Carolina Chocolate Drops (3), Pink Martini (2). First pass: Arcade Fire, Bob Dylan, Dr. John, Flying Lotus, Janelle Monae, Joanna Newsom, LCD Soundsystem, Mavis Staples, Nellie McKay, Norah Jones, PJ Harvey, Tinariwen, Tortoise. Other candidates: Well, pretty much everyone. I'll just vote from the list, since it would be compounding pointlessness to do otherwise.

Beyond Album (April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011): Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Roc-A-Fella) (5); Franco Luambo Makiaki, Francophonic Vol. 2 (Sterns) (3); Mulatu Astatke, The Story of Ethio Jazz 1965-1975 (Strut) (2). First pass: Sidi Toure & Friends, Sahel Folk (Thrill Jockey). Again, working off the ballot, which actually has a lot of African music (including a Baobab I haven't heard but would love to), some archival material (a live James Brown), and other interesting things. (Some crap too.)