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Downbeat Critics Poll: 2013
Only started this two days before the deadline. It took two massive sessions to hack my way through 16 web pages of forms, and I finished a bit after midnight on deadline day. Of course, a lot of that time goes to my attempt to take notes. I cut back on that considerably for the last third of the ballot, as will be evident below.
Main thing to say about this year's poll is that the candidates on the ballots are much improved over previous years. If you go back to my previous notes (e.g., last year), you'll see that I roasted them repeatedly for omissions (and more than a few inclusions). This year, nearly all of my 2012 write-ins made the list, and the sort between overall and "rising star" has generally improved (not that it can't be done better).
Who I voted for. Write-ins are in bold-italics; plain bold selected from their ballot:
Hall of Fame: Lee Konitz (5), George Russell (3), Charlie Haden (2). First pass: on ballot I also considered voting for: Han Bennink, Paul Bley, Anthony Braxton, Don Cherry, Tommy Flanagan, Abdullah Ibrahim, Illinois Jacquet, Misha Mengelberg, Sam Rivers, Bud Shank, Randy Weston.
For what it's worth, others on the ballot (notation: 3 = in, but when?; 2 = maybe; 1 = not really; 0 = who are you kidding?): Fred Anderson (2), Derek Bailey (2), George Benson (0), Lenny Breau (0), Bob Brookmeyer (2), Kenny Burrell (1), Jaki Byard (2), Thomas Chapin (1), Buddy DeFranco (2), Jack DeJohnette (2), Al Di Meola (0), Pete Fountain (0), Von Freeman (1), Paolo Fresu (1), Bill Frisell (2), Steve Gadd (0), Jan Garbarek (2), Benny Golson (2), Grant Green (3), Jimmy Giuffre (2), Jim Hall (2), Eddie Harris (2), Jon Hendricks (1), Billy Higgins (1), Dave Holland (2), Shirley Horn (2), Bobby Hutcherson (2), Eddie Jefferson (0), Barney Kessell (1), B.B. King (1), Yusef Lateef (1), Melba Liston (1), Charles Lloyd (2), Professor Longhair (1), Wynton Marsalis (1), Bobby McFerrin (0), John McLaughlin (3), Marian McPartland (2), Carmen McRae (2), Pat Metheny (1), Hank Mobley (2), James Moody (1), Joe Morello (1), Mark Murphy (0), Oliver Nelson (3), Les Paul (1), Tito Puente (3), Enrico Rava (2), Gunther Schuller (1), Tomasz Stanko (3), Bobo Stenson (1), Esbjorn Svensson (1), Toots Thielemans (1), Gianluigi Trovesi (1), Mel Tormé (2), Muddy Waters (1), Joe Williams (2), Phil Woods (2), John Zorn (2). I trimmed several of those back from last year, including all the blues musicians. (The only blues musician in their HOF is Bessie Smith, and you might as well consider her a jazz singer. B.B. King polls fairly well, but the fact that Big Bill Broonzy and Howlin' Wolf can't even make the ballot shows their limits.)
Elected in 2012, and thenceforth ineligible: Gene Ammons, Ron Carter, Paul Motian, Sonny Stitt.
Not on the ballot, but should be (and dead and done, so they're as ready as they'll ever be): Nat Adderley, Mildred Bailey, Billy Bang, Barney Bigard, Ruby Braff, Don Byas, Cab Calloway, Sid Catlett, June Christy, Buck Clayton, Arnett Cobb, Bing Crosby, Vic Dickenson, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Art Farmer, Bud Freeman, Lars Gullin, Al Haig, Julius Hemphill, John Hicks, Budd Johnson, Leroy Jenkins, Louis Jordan, Wynton Kelly, Krzysztof Komeda, Peter Kowald, George Lewis [the New Orleans clarinetist], Shelley Manne, Herbie Nichols, Louis Prima, Don Pullen [3rd on my ballot last year], Don Redman, Charlie Rouse, Jimmy Rowles, Jimmy Rushing, Sonny Sharrock, Horace Tapscott, Lucky Thompson, Stanley Turrentine, Mal Waldron, David S. Ware, Dinah Washington, Barney Wilen.
Living players not on the ballot who could die tomorrow and should waltz right in: Marilyn Crispell, Dave Douglas, Jim Hall, Scott Hamilton, Keith Jarrett, Sheila Jordan, Joe Lovano, Joe McPhee, David Murray, Evan Parker, William Parker, Houston Person, Roswell Rudd, Alex von Schlippenbach, Irène Schweizer, Archie Shepp, Wadada Leo Smith, Ken Vandermark, Gerald Wilson. Obviously, this list could be expanded.
Jazz Artist: Wadada Leo Smith (5), William Parker (3), Vijay Iyer (2). Not sure what this should mean, but I expect someone who is very active during the year. First pass: Tim Berne, Anthony Braxton, James Carter, Bill Frisell, Mary Halvorson, Lee Konitz, Charles Lloyd, Joe Lovano, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Matthew Shipp, Ken Vandermark, John Zorn.
Rising Star -- Jazz Artist: Steve Lehman (5), Jon Irabagon (3), Marcus Strickland (2). I wrote Lehman and Strickland in last year, but this year they're on the ballot. First pass: Ben Allison, JD Allen, Peter Evans, John Hollenbeck Darius Jones, Ted Nash, Mike Reed, Jenny Scheinman, Marcus Strickland.
Jazz Album of the Year (April 1, 2012-March 31, 2013): The year-end offset makes it a lot of extra work to do write-ins, so my first instinct is to stick to the ballot suggestions rather than check everything from my 2012 and 2013 lists. The ones graded A- or better are listed below:
Their ballot contains 130 records. Of those, I grade 1 A, 19 A-, 25 ***, 18 **, 16 *, 5 B, 3 B-; leaving 43 I haven't heard. The rest of the A-list albums on their ballot:
Hard to say how many of my A-list albums were eligible but missed their ballot -- one for sure because it's a 2013 release is Billy Martin's Wicked Knee: Heels Over Head (Ambulet).
The albums on their ballot that I haven't heard:
There's certainly stuff there that I wish I had heard. On the other hand, let me note the following A- (or better) records on my 2012-13 lists (including the ineligible first three months of 2012) that failed to get nominated (I'll just alphabetize them to keep from hurting my brain):
Historical Album (April 1, 2011-March 31, 2012): Coleman Hawkins: Classic Coleman Hawkins Sessions 1922-1947 (Mosaic) (5); Bill Evans: Live at Art D'Lugoff's Top of the Gate (Resonance) (3); Miles Davis Quintet: Live in Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 2 (Columbia/Legacy) (2). Always a tough category for me, mostly because many of these are luxury items and I don't get them. Of the 34 albums on the ballot, I haven't heard:
You may note that I voted for a set I haven't heard: the Coleman Hawkins Mosaic box. I have virtually everything on that box on some other collection, and magnificent only begins to describe it.
Other A-list items on the ballot:
I won't bother pulling the unnominated A-list items from 2012-13.
Jazz Group: Mostly Other People Do the Killing (5); ICP Orchestra (3); Rova (2). First pass: Atomic, Claudia Quintet, Dave Douglas Brass Ecstasy, Vandermark 5. I prefer to pick groups not named for their leader. Italics, by the way, indicates a write-in.
Rising Star Jazz Group: Mostly Other People Do the Killing (5); Sonic Liberation Front (3); Billy Martin's Wicked Knee (2). First pass: Neneh Cherry and the Cherry Thing, Billy Martin's Wicked Knee, Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Rempis Percussion Ensemble, São Paulo Underground, Trio M. Voted for Martin because he missed out on an album vote, and the group is really Steven Bernstein's baby anyway.
Big Band: ICP Orchestra (5); Satoki Fujii Orchestra (3); Peter Brötzmann Tentet (2). First pass: Steven Bernstein Milennial Territory Orchestra, Anthony Brown's Asian-American Jazz Orchestra, Either/Orchestra, London Jazz Composers Orchestra, Vienna Art Orchestra, Gerald Wilson Big Band. I don't really consider ICP a big band, but they're on the ballot here.
Rising Star -- Big Band: Satoko Fujii Orchestra (5); Howard Wiley and the Angola Project (3); Fred Hess Big Band (2). Lots of new big bands popping up, but none of them are all that great, so I just picked some groups off the ballot.
Trumpet: Wadada Leo Smith (5); Steven Bernstein (3); Dave Douglas (2). First pass: Ralph Alessi, Roy Campbell Jr., Dennis Gonzalez, Bryan Lynch, Wynton Marsalis, Rob Mazurek, Ron Miles, Nils Petter Molvaer, Enrico Rava, Randy Sandke, Tomasz Stanko, James Zollar. Very strong list. Gonzalez and Stanko were my next picks, but Douglas is awful tough to beat -- probably impossible for sheer chops.
Rising Star -- Trumpet: Peter Evans (5); Taylor Ho Bynum (3); Darren Johnston (2). First pass: Jonathan Finlayson, Russ Johnson, Matt Lavelle, Corey Wilkes, Nate Wooley. Evans has really moved to the head of the class this year. The others I voted for last year are on the main ballot now.
Trombone: Roswell Rudd (5), Steve Swell (3), Phil Ranelin (2). First pass: Ray Anderson, Jeb Bishop, Luis Bonilla, Robin Eubanks, Joe Fiedler, Curtis Fowlkes, Curtis Hasselbring, George Lewis, Josh Roseman, Steve Turre, Wolter Wierbos. Wrote in Ranelin last year. Would have gone with Ray Anderson this year, since he finally had a new album out, but wanted to give Ranelin some support.
Rising Star -- Trombone: Jacob Garchik (5); Joe Fiedler (3); Rafi Malkiel (3). First pass: Samuel Blaser, Alan Ferber, Rafi Malkiel. Fiedler and Malkiel were write-ins last year. Garchik had the big trombone album this year.
Soprano Saxophone: Evan Parker (5); Vinny Golia (3); Sam Newsome (2). First pass: Bruce Ackley, Michael Blake, Jane Ira Bloom, Brent Jensen, Sam Newsome, Bob Wilber, Steve Wilson. Conspicuously missing: Jan Garbarek. Most of the ballot candidates are primarily associated with other saxophones -- a few actually have distinctive styles, but rarely show them off for more than one or two cuts per album (e.g., Chris Potter, Wayne Shorter, Marcus Strickland, John Surman). Even Parker and Golia I'd rather hear on tenor.
Rising Star -- Soprano Saxophone: Mike Ellis (5); Jason Robinson (3); Mihaly Borbély (2). First pass: John Surman. I wrote in three names last year. Two are on the ballot here, and Brent Jensen is above. Borbély had a very nice record back in JCG's first year. Haven't heard anything from him since, but that happens.
Alto Saxophone: François Carrier (5); Tim Berne (3); Rudresh Mahanthappa (2). First pass: Gary Bartz, Anthony Braxton, Rob Brown, Ornette Coleman, Steve Coleman, Marty Ehrlich, Kenny Garrett, Donald Harrison, Jon Irabagon, Darius Jones, Lee Konitz, Oliver Lake, Joe McPhee, Charles McPherson, Zbigniew Namyslowski, Ted Nash, Greg Osby, Dave Rempis, Jim Snidero, Henry Threadgill, Bobby Watson, Steve Wilson, Miguel Zenón, John Zorn. Whew! Skipped over the giants I haven't heard much from lately (some not their fault): Braxton, Ornette, Konitz, Watson -- one could add the still prolific Zorn, who I haven't been able to track since Tzadik disappeared from Rhapsody. Irabagon and Rempis have mostly moved on to tenor; also McPhee, who otherwise would be in the giants list. Surprised to see Namyslowski, who had a very good record way back when but is otherwise off my radar. I've long admired Carrier, plus he sends me everything, and that's added up to more good records in the last 5-10 years than just about anyone -- even Berne. Wanted to include Nash, but Mahanthappa is also on a streak.
Rising Star -- Alto Saxophone: Steve Lehman (5), Dave Rempis (3), Mike DiRubbo (2). First pass: Gilad Atzmon, Dmitry Baevsky, Andrew D'Angelo, Darius Jones, Alexander McCabe, Matana Roberts, Jaleel Shaw, Aram Shelton. I wrote in Lehman and Carrier last year; this year Lehman is on the ballot here, and Carrier above. Voted for Jones last year, but didn't get his latest record. Had a long list of other candidates last year, some of which made the ballot. Still missing: Benjamin Herman, Jim Hobbs, Martin Küchen, John O'Gallagher, Logan Richardson, Pete Robbins, Zaid Nasser.
Tenor Saxophone: David Murray (5); Joe McPhee (3); Harry Allen (2). First pass: JD Allen, Eric Alexander, Seamus Blake, Ralph Bowen, Peter Brötzmann, James Carter, Joel Frahm, Charles Gayle, Jan Garbarek, George Garzone, Mats Gustafsson, Charles Lloyd, Joe Lovano, Tony Malaby, Branford Marsalis, Donny McCaslin, Larry Ochs, Evan Parker, Ivo Perelman, Houston Person, Chris Potter, Joshua Redman, Sonny Rollins, Pharoah Sanders, Wayne Shorter, Marcus Strickland, Ken Vandermark, David S. Ware [RIP]. Feels odd to put Allen ahead of Vandermark, Lovano, Rollins, Parker, Person, or even the unnominated (why oh why?) Scott Hamilton, but I've probably got more pleasure out of him than anyone else last year. McPhee is overdue for some recognition, even though he's done nothing to court it in 45 years. Malaby too. Also, the guy with the most good records in 2012 was Ivo Perelman. I seem to have lost track of Vandermark.
Rising Star -- Tenor Saxophone: Jon Irabagon (5); Ellery Eskelin (3); Marcus Strickland (2). First pass: Keefe Jackson, Bill McHenry, Noah Preminger, David Sánchez, Grant Stewart.
Baritone Saxophone: Gebhard Ullmann (5); Mats Gustafsson (2); Fred Ho (2). First pass: Tim Berne, Hamiet Bluiett, James Carter, Claire Daly, Vinny Golia, Alex Harding, Brian Landrus, Scott Robinson, Gary Smulyan, John Surman, Ken Vandermark. Bluiett has been the main figure in this category for quite some time, but hasn't been very active recently.
Rising Star -- Baritone Saxophone: Gebhard Ullmann (5); Brian Landrus (3); Josh Sinton (2). First pass: Mikko Innanen, Brian Landrus, Fredrik Ljungkvist, Adam Schroeder, Josh Sinton, Gebhard Ullman. Wrote in Schroeder last year, so good to see him on the ballot, but Sinton has impressed more this year. Could have bumped Ullman up, but the vote is more likely to count here.
Clarinet: Louis Sclavis (5); Michael Moore (3); Ben Goldberg (2). First pass: Don Byron, Evan Christopher, Anat Cohen, Eddie Daniels, Buddy DeFranco, Marty Ehrlich, Darryl Harper, François Houle, Rudi Mahall, Ken Peplowski, Perry Robinson, Ned Rothenberg, Aram Shelton, Chris Speed, Ken Vandermark. Moore actually plays more alto sax, where he wasn't nominated and would face even tougher competition (same for Ehrlich). Cohen and Speed are probably better on tenor, but get noticed more here. I've usually voted for Robinson, but haven't heard him in a while.
Rising Star -- Clarinet: Ben Goldberg (5); Mort Weiss (3); Avram Fefer (2). First pass: Chris Byars, Ben Goldberg, Darryl Harper, François Houle, Avram Fefer, David Krakauer, Rudi Mahall, Michael Moore, Louis Sclavis, Chris Speed, Gebhard Ullmann, Mort Weiss. Fefer is playing more tenor (and good for him). When I originally wrote Weiss in it was something of a joke given his age, but now he actually does seem to be getting some recognition. Lots of names here also on main ballot: in my mind, I've moved Moore (and Houle) up, but gave Goldberg a break. Evan Christopher would have gotten a vote here but he's only on the main ballot.
Flute: Juhani Aaltonen (5); Henry Threadgill (3); Nicole Mitchell (2). First pass: Juhani Aaltonen, Steve Adams, Robert Dick, Nicole Mitchell, Sam Most, Wolfgang Pushnig, Lew Tabackin, Henry Threadgill, Frank Wess.
Rising Star -- Flute: Kali Z. Fasteau (5); Steve Adams (3); Wolfgang Pushnig (2). First pass: none. Was going to just do what I did last year, but decided Sam Most was too silly.
Piano: Marilyn Crispell (5); Irène Schweizer (3); Muhal Richard Abrams (2). First pass: Kenny Barron, George Cables, Uri Caine, Satoko Fujii, Fred Hersch, Abdullah Ibrahim, Ethan Iverson, Vijay Iyer, Keith Jarrett, Myra Melford, Misha Mengelberg, Jason Moran, Matthew Shipp, Martial Solal, Cecil Taylor, Alexander von Schlippenbach, Denny Zeitlin. Last year I wrote in three names: two made the ballot this year (Ibrahim, Mengelberg), one didn't (Muhal Richard Abrams). This year I did extensive retrospectives of Crispell and Schweizer, neither on the ballot for no good reason whatsoever. Considered a lot of people for the third slot, then decided to double down on Abrams. There are more quality pianists than any other position -- one reason why it's hard to get the ballot approximately right.
Rising Star -- Piano: Satoko Fujii (5); Kris Davis (3); Russ Lossing (2). First pass: Ehud Asherie, Nik Bartsch, George Colligan, Tord Gustavsen, Enrico Pieranunzi, Håvard Wiik, Peter Zak.
Electronic Keyboard: Matthew Shipp (5); Uri Caine (3); Bugge Wesseltoft (2). First pass: Django Bates, John Medeski, Craig Taborn. Not much value in this category, mostly pianists who slum a bit. Still, a chance to recognize the first two after skipping them in the piano ballot.
Rising Star -- Electronic Keyboard: Nik Bärtsch (5); Russ Lossing (3); George Colligan (2). None, really. These guys almost always play acoustic (although Bärtsch at least has a style that suggests electronic; the others dabble).
Organ: Gary Versace (5), Joey DeFrancesco (3), John Medeski (2). First pass: Larry Goldings, Mike LeDonne, Amina Claudine Myers.
Rising Star -- Organ: Brian Charette (5), Wayne Peet (3); Vince Seneri (2). First pass: Alexander Hawkins.
Violin: Jenny Scheinman (5), Jason Kao Hwang (3), Charles Burnham (2). Mark Feldman, Carla Kihlstedt, Carlos Zingaro.
Rising Star -- Violin: Jesse Zubot (5), Aaron Weinstein (3), Carla Kihlstedt (2). First pass: Zach Brock.
Guitar: Bill Frisell (5); Marc Ribot (3); Nels Cline (2). First pass: John Abercrombie, Howard Alden, Peter Bernstein, Nels Cline, Bill Frisell, Mary Halvorson, John McLaughlin, Joe Morris, Bucky Pizzarelli, Marc Ribot, James Blood Ulmer.
Rising Star -- Guitar: Raoul Björkenheim (5), Gordon Grdina (3), Anders Nilsson (2). First pass: Rez Abbasi, Raoul Björkenheim, Paul Bollenback, Scott DuBois, Liberty Ellman, Gordon Grdina, Gilad Hekselman, Pete McCann, Michael Musillami, Anders Nilsson, Jeff Parker, Jacob Young.
Bass: William Parker (5), Charlie Haden (3), John Hébert (2). First pass: Ben Allison, Omer Avital, Harrison Bankhead, Ron Carter, Greg Cohen, Stephan Crump, Lars Danielsson, Mark Dresser, Ray Drummond, Michael Formanek, Drew Gress, Barry Guy, Mark Helias, Dave Holland, Marc Johnson, Gary Peacock, Peter Washington, Reggie Workman.
Rising Star -- Bass: Adam Lane (5), Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (3), Pablo Aslan (2). First pass: Joshua Abrams, Arild Andersen, Harrison Bankhead, Mark Dresser, John Edwards, Moppa Elliott, Drew Gress, Barry Guy, Thomas Morgan, Eric Revis. Three write-ins last year. Same three this year, all on the ballot.
Electric Bass: Stomu Takeishi (5), Jamaaladeen Tacuma (3), Bob Cranshaw (2). First pass: James Genus, Nate McBride, Steve Swallow. Lots of great bass players, many of them dabbling in bass guitar, but I thought I'd go for the ones I know play it.
Rising Star -- Electric Bass: Tommy Babin (5), Melvin Gibbs (3), Chris Morrissey (2). First pass: None. Same as last year, except all three were write-ins then.
Drums: Han Bennink (5); Andrew Cyrille (3); Joey Baron (2). First pass: Scott Amendola, Jim Black, Gerald Cleaver, Jack DeJohnette, Hamid Drake, Joe Farnsworth, Billy Hart, Roy Haynes, Gerry Hemingway, John Hollenbeck, Lewis Nash, Paal Nilsson-Love [sic], Bill Stewart, Nasheet Waits, Kenny Washington, Matt Wilson.
Rising Star -- Drums: Gerald Cleaver (5); Paal Nilssen-Love (3); Mike Reed (2). First pass: Scott Amendola, Tim Daisy, Joe Farnsworth, Tomas Fujiwara, Gerry Hemingway, Dave King, Paal Nilsson-Love [sic], Ches Smith, Tyshawn Sorey, Dan Weiss. I sort of arbitrarily decided Hemingway doesn't belong here, having voted for him in the top category before.
Vibes: Joe Locke (5), Jason Adasiewicz (3), Warren Smith (2). First pass: Jason Adasiewicz, Bobby Hutcherson, Khan Jamal, Joe Locke, Matt Moran, Steve Nelson, Kevin Norton, Warren Smith, Kenny Wollesen.
Rising Star -- Vibes: Matt Moran (5), Kevin Norton (3), Bryan Carrott (2). First pass: None. Jason Adasiewicz is on top ballot only now, so I voted for him there, in place of Norton (who is on ballot here, so got the vote here).
Percussion: Han Bennink (5), Hamid Drake (3), Satoshi Takeishi (2). First pass: Mino Cinelu, Kahil El'Zabar, Zakir Hussain, Susie Ibarra, Lukas Ligeti, Bobby Sanabria, Warren Smith, Dan Weiss.
Rising Star -- Percussion: Kevin Diehl (5), Dan Weiss (3), Ravish Momin (2). First pass: Harris Eisenstadt, Lukas Ligeti, Ches Smith, Warren Smith, Okay Temiz, Michael Zerang.
Miscellaneous Instrument: David Murray (bass clarinet) (5), Bob Stewart (tuba) (3), Rabih Abou-Khalil (oud) (2). First pass: Rabih Abou-Khalil (oud), Edmar Castaneda (Colombian harp), Erik Friedlander (cello), Richard Galliano (accordion), Howard Johnson (tuba), Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello), Myra Melford (harmonium), David Murray (bass clarinet), Gary Versace (accordion).
Rising Star -- Miscellaneous Instrument: Cooper-Moore (diddley bow) (5), Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello) (3), Andrea Parkins (accordion) (2). First pass: Rabih Abou-Khalil (oud), Toumani Diabate (kora), Ben Goldberg (contra alto clarinet), Peggy Lee (cello), Marcus Rojas (tuba), Colin Stetson (bass sax), Katherine Young (bassoon), Min Xiao-Fen (pipa). Not sure one really can compare cellos and tubas.
Male Vocalist: Van Morrison (5); Freddy Cole (3), Theo Bleckmann (2). First pass: Mose Allison, Bob Dorough, Giacomo Gates. Very limited, and dire, choices, plus Morrison's records are getting jazzier and jazzier, his latest on Blue Note.
Rising Star -- Male Vocalist: Jamie Davis (5); Frank Senior (3), Mark Winkler (2). First pass: None. Didn't recognize close to half of the ballot, so I scrounged around for two write-ins, not very sure of either.
Female Vocalist: Sheila Jordan (5); Diana Krall (3); René Marie (2). First pass: Patricia Barber, Jay Clayton, Lorraine Feather, Roberta Gambarini, Sheila Jordan, Stacey Kent, Rene Marie, Mary Stallings, Tierney Sutton, Fay Victor, Cassandra Wilson.
Rising Star -- Female Vocalist: Lisa Sokolov (5); Fay Victor (3); Yaala Ballin (2). First pass: Amy Allison, Yaala Ballin, Nellie McKay, Nicki Parrott, Lisa Sokolov, Fay Victor.
Composer: Carla Bley (5); John Zorn (5); Steve Lehman (2).
Rising Star -- Composer: Ben Allison (5); Steve Lehman (3); Moppa Elliott (2).
Arranger: Steven Bernstein (5); Gerald Wilson (3); Jim McNeely (2).
Rising Star -- Arranger: John Hollenbeck (5); Marcus Shelby (3); David Weiss (2).
Record Label: Clean Feed (5), ECM (3), Sunnyside (2).
Producer: Joe Fields (5), Mark Free (3), David Binney (2).
Rising Star -- Producer: Pedro Costa (5); Luke Kaven (3), Taylor Ho Bynum (2).
Blues Artist or Group: James Blood Ulmer (5); Maria Muldaur (3); Eric Bibb (2). First pass: Carolina Chocolate Drops, Sue Foley, Taj Mahal, Duke Robillard.
Blues Album (April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2012): ZZ Top: La Futura (Universal Republic) (5); Various Artists: First Came Memphis Minnie (Stony Plain) (3); Otis Taylor: My World Is Gone (Telarc) (2). No A-list records there.
Beyond Artist or Group: The Roots (5); Merle Haggard (3); Frank Ocean (2). First pass: Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Flying Lotus, Aretha Franklin, Kendrick Lamar, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Raphael Saadiq, Tinariwen, Tom Waits, Neil Young & Crazy Horse.
Beyond Album (April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011): Killer Mike: R.A.P. Music (Williams Street) (5); Frank Ocean: Channel Orange (Def Jam) (3); Patti Smith: Banga (Columbia) (2). First pass (ones I've heard and rated A- or better, beyond the top three moved above):
Obviously, off-ballot I can find a lot more.