Downbeat Critics Poll: 2015

Notes on my voting for Downbeat's 2015 Critics Poll. The voting was conducted using SurveyMonkey. For each of 50-some questions, they provided an extensive list of nominees, but also allowed write-ins. Those I voted for are in bold. The write-ins are in bold italic. The survey allowed for more point responsibility, but I always gave 5 points to my 1st pick, 3 to my second, and 2 to my 3rd.

Hall of Fame: Lee Konitz (5), George Russell (3), Don Byas (2). Byas replaces Anthony Braxton on my ballot. He hadn't been on the ballot before, and I hadn't picked him up as a write-in contender (I was thinking Don Pullen and Jimmy Rushing). Braxton has the much more substantive career, but Byas got in line first. He'd be a very good pick for Downbeat's Veterans Committee.

First pass: on ballot I also considered voting for: Han Bennink, Paul Bley, Anthony Braxton, Jaki Byard, Don Cherry, Jimmy Giuffre, Grant Green, Abdullah Ibrahim, Illinois Jacquet, Sam Rivers, Pharoah Sanders, Cedar Walton, 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?; + indicates new on this year's ballot, - indicates dropped from previous ballot): Fred Anderson (2), Derek Bailey (2), +Kenny Barron (2), Tony Bennett (1), George Benson (0), Bob Brookmeyer (2), Kenny Burrell (1), Thomas Chapin (1), Buddy DeFranco (2), Jack DeJohnette (2), George Duke (0), Von Freeman (1), Bill Frisell (3), Steve Gadd (0), Jan Garbarek (2), Benny Golson (2), Chico Hamilton (1), Eddie Harris (2), Jimmy Heath (2), Jon Hendricks (0), Billy Higgins (2), Dave Holland (3), Shirley Horn (2), Bobby Hutcherson (2), Ronald Shannon Jackson (1), Eddie Jefferson (0), +Dr. John (1), Yusef Lateef (1), Melba Liston (1), Charles Lloyd (2), Professor Longhair (2), Wynton Marsalis (1), John McLaughlin (3), Marian McPartland (2), Carmen McRae (2), Hank Mobley (2), James Moody (1), Joe Morello (1), Mark Murphy (0), Oliver Nelson (2), Les Paul (1), Tito Puente (3), Gunther Schuller (1), Tomasz Stanko (3), Esbjorn Svensson (1), Toots Thielemans (1), Mel Tormé (2), Chucho Valdes (2), Frank Wess (2), Joe Williams (1), Phil Woods (2), John Zorn (2).

Jazz Artist: Anthony Braxton (5), William Parker (3), Ken Vandermark (2). This is one of those je ne sais quoi categories -- I'm never sure what it means. Braxton had a big year, and I feel a bit guilty dropping him from the HOF ballot. Vandermark had two or three big box sets, but I haven't heard them yet. First pass: Kenny Barron, Anat Cohen, Dave Douglas, Mary Halvorson, Vijay Iyer, Matthew Shipp, Wadada Leo Smith, Craig Taborn, John Zorn.

Rising Star -- Jazz Artist: Steve Lehman (5), Mary Halvorson (3), Craig Taborn (2). First pass: Peter Evans, Mary Halvorson, John Hollenbeck, Jon Irabagon, Jenny Scheinman, Colin Stetson, Marcus Strickland, Craig Taborn. Voted for Irabagon-Evans-Halvorson last year.

Jazz Album of the Year (April 1, 2014-March 31, 2015): Steve Lehman Octet, Mis En Abime (Pi) (5); Charles McPherson, The Journey (Capri -15) (3); Bobby Avey, Authority Melts From Me (Whirlwind) (2).

I limited myself to the ballot here, on the theory that write-ins don't have a chance to finish in the print, and won't influence next year's ballot. The ballot lists 129 records. I've only heard 71 (55%, well down from last year's 69% -- 78/113), and only gave 10 A-list grades (7.7%, also down from last year's 12 -- 10.6%). The drop is mostly due to larger labels I stopped getting service from (ECM, HighNote/Savant, Nonesuch, Palmetto, Sunnyside). Three lists follow: albums on the ballot that I've rated; albums on the ballot I haven't heard; and albums not on the ballot that made my A-list. The skewed eligibility dates would have caused more work, so I took a couple shortcuts around them. You can still find my complete 2014 Jazz List and early 2015 releases (not just jazz) are in my 2015 List.

Albums on their ballot I've heard and graded (sorted by grade, then within grade alphabetically by artist) (68 + 3 above):

  • Dave Douglas/Riverside, Riverside (Greenleaf) [A-]
  • Eric Revis Quartet, In Memory of Things Yet Seen (Clean Feed) [A-]
  • Ryan Truesdell Gil Evans Project, Lines of Color: Live at Jazz Standard (Blue Note/Artist Share -15) [A-]
  • Sam Newsome, The Straight Horn Of Africa: A Path To Liberation (self-released) [A-]
  • Sonny Rollins, Road Shows, Volume 3 (Doxy/OKeh) [A-]
  • The Hot Sardines, The Hot Sardines (Decca) [A-]
  • Wadada Leo Smith, The Great Lakes Suites (TUM) [A-]
  • Anat Cohen, Luminosa (Anzic -15) [***]
  • Bill Frisell, Guitar in the Space Age! (OKeh) [***]
  • Chick Corea Trio, Trilogy (Stretch/Concord) [***]
  • Delfeayo Marsalis, The Last Southern Gentlemen (Troubadour Jass) [***]
  • Henry Butler/Steven Bernstein and the Hot 9, Viper's Drag (Impulse!) [***]
  • Jimmy Cobb, The Original Mob (Smoke Sessions) [***]
  • Kenny Barron/Dave Holland, The Art of Conversation (Impulse!) [***]
  • Lenny Pickett With UMO Jazz Orchestra, The Prescription (Random Act) [***]
  • Marc Ribot Trio, Live at the Village Vanguard (Pi) [***]
  • Matt Bauder and Day in Pictures, Nightshades (Clean Feed) [***]
  • Saxophone Summit, Visitation (Artistshare) [***]
  • The Bad Plus, Inevitable Western (OKeh) [***]
  • The Nels Cline Singers, Macroscope (Mack Avenue) [***]
  • Tineke Postma/Greg Osby, Sonic Halo (Challenge) [***]
  • Trio 3 and Vijay Iyer, Wiring (Intakt) [***]
  • Vijay Iyer Trio, Break Stuff (ECM -15) [***]
  • Yosvany Terry, New Throned King (5 Passion) [***]
  • Abdullah Ibrahim, Mukashi: Once Upon a Time (Sunnyside -13) [**]
  • Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, The Offense of the Drum (Motema) [**]
  • Azar Lawrence, The Seeker (Sunnyside) [**]
  • Bobby Broom, My Shining Hour (Origin) [**]
  • Branford Marsalis, In My Solitude: Live at the Grace Cathedral (Marsalis Music/OKeh) [**]
  • Chris Potter Underground Orchestra, Imaginary Cities (ECM -15) [**]
  • Colin Vallon Trio, Le Vent (ECM) [**]
  • Dave Douglas/Uri Caine, Present Joys (Greenleaf) [**]
  • David Virelles, Mboko (ECM) [**]
  • Edward Simon, Venezuelan Suite (Sunnyside) [**]
  • Ernie Watts Quartet, A Simple Truth (Flying Dolphin) [**]
  • Jacky Terrasson, Take This (Impluse -15) [**]
  • Joshua Redman, Trios Live (Nonesuch) [**]
  • Lee Fields & the Expressions, Emma Jean (Truth & Soul) [**]
  • Mark Turner, Lathe of Heaven (ECM) [**]
  • Oliver Lake Organ Quartet, What I Heard (Passin' Thru) [**]
  • Orrin Evans' Captain Black Big Band, Mother's Touch (Posi-Tone) [**]
  • Rotem Sivan Trio, For Emotional Use Only (Fresh Sound New Talent) [**]
  • The Cookers, Time and Time Again (Motema) [**]
  • Bobby Hutcherson/David Sanborn/Joey DeFrancesco/Billy Hart, Enjoy the View (Blue Note) [*]
  • Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band, Landmarks (Blue Note) [*]
  • Elias Haslanger, Live at the Gallery (Cherrywood) [*]
  • Jason Moran, All Rise: A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller (Blue Note) [*]
  • Jimmy Greene, Beautiful Life (Mack Avenue) [*]
  • José James, Yesterday I Had the Blues: The Music of Billie Holiday (Blue Note -15) [*]
  • Matthew Shipp, I've Been Too Many Places (Thirsty Ear) [*]
  • Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood, Juice (Indirecto) [*]
  • Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio, Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio (Concord Jazz) [*]
  • Miguel Zenón, Identities Are Changeable (Miel) [*]
  • Nels Cline/Julian Lage, Room (Mack Avenue) [*]
  • Omer Avital, New Song (Plus Loin/Motema) [*]
  • Rez Abbasi, Intents and Purposes (Enja -15) [*]
  • Rudresh Mahanthappa, Bird Calls (ACT -15) [*]
  • Rufus Reid, Quiet Pride: The Elizabeth Catlett Project (Motema) [*]
  • The Pete McGuinness Jazz Orchestra, Strength in Numbers (Summit) [*]
  • The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Over Time/The Music of Bob Brookmeyer (Planet Arts) [*]
  • Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, Cheek to Cheek (Streamline/Interscope/Columbia) [*]
  • Jamie Cullum, Interlude (Blue Note -15) [B]
  • Michael Mantler, The Jazz Composer's Orchestra Update (ECM) [B]
  • Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Blue (Hot Cup Records) [B]
  • Otis Brown III, The Thought of You (Revive/Blue Note) [B]
  • Billy Childs, Map To The Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro (Sony Masterworks) [B-]
  • Dan Weiss, Fourteen (Pi) [B-]
  • Diana Krall, Wallflower (Verve) [B-]

In quality, I don't find Downbeat's album ballot any better than random picks.

Albums on their ballot I haven't heard (58):

  • Afro Bop Alliance, Angel Eyes (Zoho)
  • Albert "Tootie" Heath, Philadelphia Beat (Sunnyside)
  • Andy Bey, Pages From an Imaginary Life (HighNote)
  • Anne Mette Iversen's Double Life, So Many Roads (Brooklyn Jazz Underground)
  • Anthony Braxton, Trio (New Haven) 2013 (New Braxton House)
  • Avishai Cohen's Trevini, Dark Nights (Anzic)
  • Bob Stewart, Connections: Mind the Gap (Sunnyside)
  • Brian Charette, Good Tipper (Posi-Tone)
  • Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, The L.A. Treasures Project (Capri)
  • Conrad Herwig, The Latin Side of Joe Henderson (Half Note)
  • Darryl Harper, The Need's Got to Be So Deep (Hipnotic Records)
  • Diego Barber & Craig Taborn, Tales (Sunnyside)
  • Donny McCaslin, Fast Future (Greenleaf -15)
  • Duane Eubanks Quintet, Things of That Particular Nature (Sunnyside)
  • Duchess, Duchess (Anzic)
  • Ellis Marsalis Trio, On the Second Occasion (ELM)
  • Emilia Martensson, Ana (Babel)
  • Eric Johnson & Mike Stern, Eclectic (Heads Up)
  • Frank Kimbrough, Quartet (Palmetto)
  • Fred Hersch Trio, Floating (Palmetto)
  • Ginger Baker, Why? (Motema)
  • Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band, Life in the Bubble (Telarc)
  • Hiromi, Alive (Telarc/Concord)
  • Hush Point, Blues and Reds (Sunnyside)
  • Jack Bruce, Silver Rails (Esoteric Antenna)
  • James Farm, City Folk (Nonesuch)
  • Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, Maqueque (Justin Time)
  • JD Allen, Bloom (Savant)
  • Jeff Coffin & the Mu'tet, Side Up (Ear Up Records)
  • Jeremy Pelt, Tales, Musings and Other Reveries (High Note)
  • Jerome Sabbagh, The Turn (Sunnyside)
  • Jerry Bergonzi, Intersecting Lines (Savant)
  • Joe Sample NDR Big Band, Children of the Sun (PRA)
  • Joey DeFrancesco, Home for the Holidays (JD Music)
  • Karen Mantler, Business Is Bad (Xtrawatt)
  • Keith Jarett/Charlie Haden, Last Dance (ECM)
  • Kevin Eubanks & Stanley Jordan, Duets (Mack Avenue)
  • Kenny Werner, Coalition (Half Note)
  • Liam Bailey, Definitely Now (Flying Buddha/Sony Masterworks)
  • Manhattan School of Music Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra with Bobby Sanabria, Que Viva Harlem! (Jazzheads)
  • Michael Carvin Experience, Flash Forward (Motema)
  • Oran Etkin, Gathering Light (Motema)
  • Paquito D'Rivera, Jazz Meets the Classics (Paquito/Sunnyside)
  • Paul Bollenback, Portraits in Space and Time (Mayimba)
  • Peter Bernstein, Solo Guitar (Live At Smalls) (SmallsLive)
  • Richard Leo Johnson, Celeste (Soft Science)
  • Rob Mazurek, Return the Tides (Cuneiform)
  • Rodrigo Amarante, Cavalo (Easy Sound)
  • Ron Miles, Circuit Rider (Enja/Yellowbird)
  • Russ Johnson, Meeting Point (Replay Recordings)
  • Sean Jones Quartet, Im.Pro.Vise: Never Before Seen (Mack Avenue)
  • Stanton Moore, Conversations (Royal Potato Family)
  • Stefano Bollani, Joy in Spite of Everything (ECM)
  • Tom Harrell, Trip (HighNote)
  • Uri Caine, Callithump (Winter & Winter)
  • Walter Smith III, Still Casual (self-released)
  • Keep on Keepin' On [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] (Universal)
  • Whiplash [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] (Varese Sarabande)

The following 2014 and 2015 (so far) albums didn't make Downbeat's ballot, but I rated them A- (or better). (I didn't check release dates, but did weed out anything I mentioned last year.) Listed alphabetically (65):

  • Greg Abate Quartet: Motif (Whaling City Sound)
  • Jason Ajemian: Folklords (Delmark)
  • Rodrigo Amado: Wire Quartet (Clean Feed)
  • Gabriel Amargant: And Now for Something Completely Different (Fresh Sound New Talent -15)
  • Audio One: An International Report (Audiographic)
  • Billy Bang/William Parker: Medicine Buddha (2009, NoBusiness)
  • Nat Birchall Quintet: Live in Larissa (Sound Soul and Spirit)
  • Andy Biskin Ibid: Act Necessary (Strudelmedia)
  • Michael Blake: Tiddy Boom (Sunnyside)
  • Dave Burrell/Steve Swell: Turning Point (NoBusiness)
  • François Carrier/Michel Lambert/Alexey Lapin: The Russian Concerts (FMR)
  • The Core Trio With Matthew Shipp: The Core Trio With Matthew Shipp (self-released)
  • Cortex: Live! (Clean Feed)
  • Ernest Dawkins Live the Spirit Residency Big Band: Memory in the Center: An Afro Opera: Homage to Nelson Mandela (Dawk -15)
  • Digital Primitives: Lipsomuch/Soul Searchin' (Hopscotch, 2CD)
  • Lajos Dudas Quartet: Live at Salzburger Jazzherbst (Jazz Sick -13)
  • Duduvudu: The Gospel According to Dudu Pukwana (Edgetone)
  • Farmers by Nature: Love and Ghosts (AUM Fidelity, 2CD)
  • Kali Z. Fasteau: Piano Rapture (Flying Note)
  • Joe Fiedler Trio: I'm In (Multiphonics Music -15)
  • Tomas Fujiwara & the Hook Up: After All Is Said (482 Music -15)
  • Milford Graves & Bill Laswell: Space/Time · Redemption (TUM -15)
  • Michael Griener/Rudi Mahall/Jan Roder/Christof Thewes: Squakk: Willisau & Berlin (Intakt)
  • Marty Grosz Meets the Fat Babies: Diga Diga Doo (Delmark -15)
  • Rich Halley 4: The Wisdom of Rocks (Pine Eagle)
  • Mary Halvorson/Michael Formanek/Tomas Fujiwara: Thumbscrew (Cuneiform)
  • William Hooker & Liudas Mockunas: Live at the Vilnius Jazz Festival (NoBusiness)
  • Mikko Innanen: Song for a New Decade (TUM, 2CD -15)
  • Lucien Johnson/Alan Silva/Makoto Soto: Stinging Nettles (Improvising Beings)
  • The Kandinsky Effect: Somnambulist (Cuneiform -15)
  • Jonas Kullhammar: Gentlemen (Moserobie)
  • Jonas Kullhammar/Torbjörn Zetterberg/Espen Aalberg: Basement Sessions Vol. 2 (Clean Feed)
  • Oliver Lake/William Parker: To Roy (Intakt -15)
  • Adam Lane's Full Throttle Orchestra: Live in Ljubljana (Clean Feed)
  • Chris Lightcap's Bigmouth: Epicenter (Clean Feed -15)
  • The Mark Lomax Trio: Isis & Osiris (Inarhyme)
  • Luis Lopes Lisbon Berlin Trio: The Line (Clean Feed)
  • Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas: Sound Prints: Live at Monterey Jazz Festival (Blue Note -15)
  • The Microscopic Septet: Manhattan Moonrise (Cuneiform)
  • Barbara Morrison: I Love You, Yes I Do (Savant)
  • Moskus: Mestertyven (Hubro)
  • John O'Gallagher Trio: The Honeycomb (Fresh Sound New Talent -15)
  • Old Time Musketry: Drifter (NCM East -15)
  • Ivo Perelman: The Other Edge (Leo)
  • Ivo Perelman/Karl Berger: Reverie (Leo)
  • Noah Preminger: Background Music (Fresh Sound New Talent)
  • Rent Romus' Life's Blood Ensemble: Cimmerian Crossroads (Edgetone)
  • Catherine Russell: Bring It Back (Jazz Village)
  • Jenny Scheinman: The Littlest Prisoner (Masterworks)
  • Schlippenbach Trio: Features (Intakt -15)
  • Paul Shapiro: Shofarot Verses (Tzadik)
  • Wadada Leo Smith/Jamie Saft/Joe Morris/Balasz Pandi: Red Hill (Rare Noise)
  • Jim Snidero: Main Street (Savant -15)
  • Katie Thiroux: Introducing Katie Thiroux (BassKat -15)
  • Assif Tsahar/Gerry Hemingway/Mark Dresser: Code Re(a)d (Hopscotch)
  • Peter Van Huffel/Michael Bates/Jeff Davis: Boom Crane (Fresh Sound New Talent)
  • Velkro: Don't Wait for the Revolution (Clean Feed)
  • Marlene VerPlanck: I Give Up, I'm in Love (Audiophile)
  • Anne Waldman: Jaguar Harmonics (Fast Speaking Music)
  • Marcin Wasilewski Trio w/Joakim Milder: Spark of Life (ECM)
  • Ezra Weiss Sextet: Before You Know It: Live in Portland (Roark)
  • XY Quartet: XY (Nusica)
  • The Young Mothers: A Mothers Work Is Never Done (Tektite)
  • Zanussi 5: Live in Coimbra (Clean Feed)
  • Waclaw Zimpel To Tu Orchestra: Nature Moves (Fortune)

Historical Album (April 1, 2014-March 31, 2015): Sun Ra, In the Orbit of Ra (Strut) (5); Charles Lloyd, Manhattan Stories (Resonance) (3); Charlie Haden/Jim Hall, Charlie Haden -- Jim Hall (Impulse!) (2). Last year I wound up writing in two items, but this year I've heard more of the choices: of 35 items on the ballot, I've heard 10 (28.5%) -- doesn't seem like much, last year I went 5/37 (13.5%).

The following is the same workout as with new records.

Albums on their ballot I've heard and graded (sorted by grade, then within grade alphabetically by artist) (7 + 3 above):

  • Keith Jarrett/Charlie Haden/Paul Motian, Hamburg '72 (ECM) [A-]
  • Red Garland Trio, Swingin' on the Korner: Live From Keystone Korner (Ingrooves) [A-]
  • Chubby Jackson, Ooh, What an Outfit! NYC 1949 (Uptown Jazz) [***]
  • Don Pullen, Richard's Tune (Sackville) [***]
  • Jimmy Guiffre, 3&4, New York Concerts (Elemental) [***]
  • Junior Wells, South Side Blues Jam (Delmark) [***]
  • John Coltrane, Offering: Live at Temple University (Resonance) [**]

Albums on their ballot I haven't heard (32):

  • Albert Ayler, Lorrach, Paris 1966 (Hatology)
  • Allman Brothers Band, 1971 Fillmore East Recordings (Mercury)
  • Art Pepper, Neon Art Volume 2 (Omnivore)
  • Bob Dylan, The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 (Columbia/Legacy)
  • Cannonball Adderley Sextet, Complete Live In Tokyo (Solar)
  • Charles Lloyd, Arrows Into Infinity (ECM)
  • Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, CSNY 1974 (Rhino)
  • Duke Ellington Orchestra, The Treasury Shows Vol. 18 (Duke Ellington Treasury Shows)
  • Elvis Presley, That's The Way It Is [Deluxe Edition] (Legacy)
  • Gary McFarland, This Is Gary McFarland (Century 67)
  • Horace Silver Quintet, June 1977 (Promising Music/HGBS)
  • John Carter & Bobby Bradford, Tandem (Eminem)
  • John Coltrane, So Many Things: The European Tour 1961 (Acrobat)
  • Johnny Hodges/Billy Strayhorn, Hodges With Strayhorn and the Orchestra (Apo)
  • Louis Armstrong & the All Stars, Complete Newport 1956 & 1958 (Mosaic)
  • Miles Davis, All of You: The Last Tour, 1960 (Acrobat)
  • Oscar Peterson, Exclusively for My Friends, Vol. 4 (Edel:Kultur)
  • Sun Ra, Supersonic Jazz (Solar Records)
  • The Brecker Brothers, The Bottom Line Archive (BFD)
  • Thelonious Monk, The Complete 1966 Geneva Concert (Sonar)
  • Tony Scott, Lost Tapes: Tony Scott in Germany 1957 & Asia 1962 (Jazzhaus)
  • Jazz in Polish Cinema (Jazz On Film)
  • The Complete Dial Modern Jazz Sessions (Mosaic)
  • Wayne Shorter, Speak No Evil (Blue Note)

The following April 2013-March 2014 "historical" albums didn't make Downbeat's ballot, but I rated them A- (or better). Listed alphabetically (4 + 2 above):

  • Anthony Braxton: Trio and Duet (1974, Delmark/Sackville -15)
  • Ted Daniel's Energy Module: Interconnection (1975, NoBusiness, 2CD)
  • The Evergreen Classic Jazz Band: Early Tunes 1915-1932 (1995, Delmark)
  • Coleman Hawkins/Clark Terry: Back in Bean\'s Bag (1962 [2014], Essential Jazz Classics)
  • Oscar Peterson/Ben Webster: During This Time (1972, Art of Groove)
  • Enrico Pieranunzi/Marc Johnson/Joey Baron: Play Morricone 1 & 2: The complete Recordings (2001-02, CAM Jazz, 2CD)
  • The Buddy Tate Quartet: Texas Tenor (1978, Sackville/Delmark)
  • Lennie Tristano: Chicago April 1951 (1951, Uptown, 2CD)

Jazz Group: Microscopic Septet (5), Mostly Other People Do the Killing (3), Rova (2).

First pass: The Bad Plus, Claudia Quintet, Sex Mob. I dislike voting for leader-named groups, as I figure they're usually just an extension of the leader -- otherwise why not think up a distinct name? -- though in the past I've made an exception for the Vandermark 5. Annoyed that I still have to write in MOPDTK (also annoyed with Blue, which is why I dropped them a notch).

Rising Star Jazz Group: Revolutionary Snake Ensemble (5), Mostly Other People Do the Killing (3), Digital Primitives (2).

First pass: 3 Cohens, The Cookers, Ellery Eskelin New York Trio, -Billy Martin's Wicked Knee, São Paulo Underground, The Thing, Thumbscrew. I wrote the Whammies in last year -- still worthwhile, as is their Lacy-tribute competitor Ideal Bread. Note that the Thing cut their first (and best) album in 2000 -- they're long past rising. MOPDTK have five A/A- records over more than a decade.

Lots of groups one might consider writing in: Angles/Angles 9, Dawn of Midi, Farmers by Nature, Humanization 4Tet, The Kandinsky Effect, Chris Lightcap's Bigmouth, Old Time Musketry, Velkro, XY Quartet, The Young Mothers.

Big Band: Steven Bernstein Millennial Territory Orchestra (5), ICP Orchestra (3), Ken Vandermark's Resonance Ensemble (2).

First pass: Darcy James Argue's Secret Society, Peter Brötzmann Tentet, Anthony Brown's Asian-American Jazz Orchestra, Either/Orchestra, Satoko Fujii Orchestra, Fred Ho and the Green Monster Big Band, ICP Orchestra, London Jazz Composers Orchestra, William Parker & Little Huey, Vienna Art Orchestra, -Gerald Wilson Big Band.

I was disappointed with Bernstein's album, even more so with the first post-Mengelberg outing from ICP Orchestra. On the other hand, Vandermark's third (or fourth if you count the Brötzmann Tentet) big band blows me away every time: he finally got it right.

Rising Star Big Band: Ken Vandermark's Resonance Ensemble (5), Ghost Train Orchestra (3), Howard Wiley and the Angola Project (2).

First pass: Vince Giordano's Nighthawks, Westchester Jazz Orchestra.

Trumpet: Dave Douglas (5), Wadada Leo Smith (3), Steven Bernstein (2).

First pass: Ralph Alessi, Steven Bernstein, Roy Campbell Jr. [RIP], Dave Douglas, Paolo Fresu, Brian Lynch, Wynton Marsalis, Rob Mazurek, Ron Miles, Nils Petter Molvaer, Enrico Rava, Randy Sandke, Alex Sipiagin, Wadada Leo Smith, Terrell Stafford, Tomasz Stanko, Natsuki Tamura, Kenny Wheeler [RIP]. I wrote in Dennis Gonzalez and Paul Smoker last time. Nothing new from either, but they should be on the ballot.

Rising Star Trumpet: Peter Evans (5), Taylor Ho Bynum (3), Darren Johnston (2).

First pass: Taylor Ho Bynum, Peter Evans, Jonathan Finlayson, Russ Johnson, Darren Johnston, Kirk Knuffke, Matt Lavelle, Nadje Noordhuis, Corey Wilkes, Nate Wooley. Some more names: Magnus Broo, Avishai Cohen, Sei Miguel, James Zollar.

Trombone: Roswell Rudd (5), Steve Swell (3), Joe Fiedler (2).

First pass: Ray Anderson, Jeb Bishop, Luis Bonilla, Steve Davis, -Joe Fiedler, Curtis Fowlkes, -Jacob Garchik, Wycliffe Gordon, Curtis Hasselbring, Ku-umba Frank Lacy, George Lewis, Julius Priester, Phil Ranelin, Josh Roseman, Roswell Rudd, Steve Swell, Steve Turre, Wolter Wierbos. Fiedler got dropped from the ballot just as he's released the best trombone album of the year. Rudd's moving into the stage of his career where we ought to be talking him up for HOF.

Rising Star Trombone: Joe Fiedler (5), Samuel Blaser (3), Jacob Garchik (2).

First pass: Mats Aleklint, Samuel Blaser, Michael Dessen, Alan Ferber, Joe Fiedler, Jacob Garchik, Marshall Gilkes, Rafi Malkiel. Some more names: Brian Drye, Reut Regev.

Soprano Saxophone: Sam Newsome (5), Bob Wilber (3), Vinny Golia (2).

First pass: Bruce Ackley, Jane Ira Bloom, John Butcher, Jan Garbarek, Vinny Golia, Dave Liebman, Roscoe Mitchell, Sam Newsome, Evan Parker, Steve Slagle, Marcus Strickland, Bob Wilber, Steve Wilson. I'm not much for famous tenor saxophonists who dabble in the instrument, even when they're as good as, say, Chris Potter. I often vote for Garbarek here, remembering his early curved horn, but that's been a while, so I thought I'd cast a nostalgic vote for Wilber instead. Actually, the wildest soprano I've heard this year has been by Keith Jarrett, albeit on very old records.

Rising Star Soprano Saxophone: Mike Ellis (5), Jason Robinson (3), Jasmine Lovell-Smith (2).

First pass: Michael Blake, Mihaly Borbely, Mike Ellis, Jimmy Greene, Ingrid Laubrock, Jasmine Lovell-Smith, Steve Lugerner, Jason Robinson.

Alto Saxophone: Oliver Lake (5), François Carrier (3), Anthony Braxton (2).

First pass: Gary Bartz, Tim Berne, Anthony Braxton, Rob Brown, Francois Carrier, Ornette Coleman, Steve Coleman, Marty Ehrlich, Donald Harrison, Jon Irabagon, Sherman Irby, Lee Konitz, Oliver Lake, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Joe McPhee, Charles McPherson, Michael Moore, Ted Nash, Greg Osby, Akira Sakata, Yosvany Terry, Henry Threadgill, Bobby Watson, Steve Wilson, Miguel Zenón, John Zorn.

Rising Star Alto Saxophone: Steve Lehman (5), Dave Rempis (3), Mike DiRubbo (2).

First pass: Greg Abate, Andrew D'Angelo, Mike DiRubbo, Benjamin Herman, Darius Jones, Alexey Kruglov, Steve Lehman, Alexander McCabe, Dave Rempis, Logan Richardson, Matana Roberts, -Jaleel Shaw, Aram Shelton.

Tenor Saxophone: David Murray (5), Ivo Perelman (3), Ken Vandermark (2).

First pass: Harry Allen, Eric Alexander, Jerry Bergonzi, Michael Blake, Seamus Blake, Peter Brötzmann, James Carter, Anat Cohen, Joel Frahm, Jan Garbarek, George Garzone, Charles Gayle, Craig Handy, Jon Irabagon, Kidd Jordan, Charles Lloyd, Joe Lovano, Tony Malaby, Branford Marsalis, Donny McCaslin, Joe McPhee, David Murray, Ted Nash, Larry Ochs, Evan Parker, Ivo Perelman, Houston Person, Odean Pope, Chris Potter, Sonny Rollins, Pharoah Sanders, Wayne Shorter, Chris Speed, Marcus Strickland, Ken Vandermark, Tim Warfield, Ernie Watts. Aside from the above, some guys (mostly 50+) who didn't make the ballot: Juhani Aaltonen, Iain Ballamy, Gato Barbieri, Ernest Dawkins, Ellery Eskelin, Ricky Ford, Rich Halley, Scott Hamilton, Billy Harper, Dave Liebman, Allen Lowe, Archie Shepp, Andy Sheppard, Tommy Smith (48), Lew Tabackin, Bennie Wallace.

Rising Star Tenor Saxophone: Ellery Eskelin (5), Assif Tsahar (3), Rodrigo Amado (2)

First pass: Matt Bauder, Abraham Burton, Ellery Eskelin, Keefe Jackson, Noah Preminger, David Sanchez, Grant Stewart, Marcus Strickland.

Some other missing tenor saxophonists: Rodrigo Amado, Gabriel Amargant, Chris Byars, Avram Fefer, Jonathan Moritz, Bryan Murray, Hilary Noble, Matt Parker, Adam Pieronczyk, Matt Renzi, Assif Tsahar, Rob Wagner.

Baritone Saxophone: Mats Gustafsson (5), Scott Robinson (3), Gebhard Ullmann (2).

First pass: Hamiet Bluiett, James Carter, Ronnie Cuber, Claire Daly, Vinny Golia, Mats Gustafsson, Alex Harding, Fred Ho [RIP], Howard Johnson, Brian Landrus, Scott Robinson, Gary Smulyan, John Surman, -Gebhard Ullann.

Rising Star Baritone Saxophone: Gebhard Ullmann (5), Brian Landrus (3), Josh Sinton (2).

First pass: Charles Evans, Alex Harding, Mikko Innanen, Brian Landrus, Adam Schroeder, Josh Sinton, Gebhard Ullmann.

Clarinet: Ben Goldberg (5), Marty Ehrlich (3), Michael Moore (2).

First pass: Andy Biskin, Don Byron, Evan Christopher, Anat Cohen, Paquito D'Rivera, Eddie Daniels, Buddy DeFranco [RIP], Marty Ehrlich, Ben Goldberg, David Krakauer, Michael Moore, Michel Portal, Perry Robinson, Ned Rothenberg, Louis Sclavis, Chris Speed, Gebhard Ullmann, Ken Vandermark, Bob Wilber.

Rising Star Clarinet: Avram Fefer (5), Rudi Mahall (3), Gebhard Ullmann (2).

First pass: Avram Fefer, Darryl Harper, François Houle, -David Krakauer, Rudi Mahall, -Michael Moore, Ned Rothenberg, -Louis Sclavis, Chris Speed, Gebhard Ullmann, Mort Weiss. I voted for Moore and Sclavis last time, both well past rising star stage, and for Weiss, even older but a relative newcomer, and now retired.

Flute: Juhani Aaltonen (5), Henry Threadgill (3), Lew Tabackin (2).

First pass: Juhani Aaltonen, Robert Dick, Nicole Mitchell, Roscoe Mitchell, -Sam Most [RIP], James Newton, Lew Tabackin, Henry Threadgill, Dave Valentin, -Frank Wess [RIP].

Rising Star Flute: Kali Z. Fasteau (5), Idan Santhaus (3).

First pass: Kali Z. Fasteau. They thinned this ballot out a bit this year, removing James Newton (the reigning flute player of the 1980s) and the late Sam Most (who more or less invented jazz flute in the 1950s). I recognize less than half of the names that remain, and two of them I never knew played flute (Steve Adams, Anat Cohen). As I said last year, there are more good tuba players than flutists in jazz. The category should be folded into miscellaneous instruments.

Piano: Irène Schweizer (5), Myra Melford (3), Marilyn Crispell (2).

First pass: Geri Allen, Kenny Barron, George Cables, Uri Caine, Marilyn Crispell, Satoko Fujii, David Hazeltine, Fred Hersch, Dick Hyman, Abdullah Ibrahim, Ethan Iverson, Vijay Iyer, Ahmad Jamal, Keith Jarrett, Brad Mehldau, Myra Melford, Misha Mengelberg, Jason Moran, Enrico Pieranunzi, Renee Rosnes, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Alexander von Schlippenbach, Matthew Shipp, Bobo Stenson, Craig Taborn, Cecil Taylor, Chucho Valdes, Randy Weston. Some other names not on the ballot: Muhal Richard Abrams, Ran Blake, Carla Bley, Paul Bley, Dave Burrell, Cooper-Moore, Hal Galper, Vyacheslav Ganelin, Guus Janssen, Pandelis Karayorgis, Roger Kellaway, Joachim Kühn, Steve Kuhn, Howard Riley, Michele Rosewoman, Irene Schweizer, Martial Solal, Aki Takase, Keith Tippett, Albert Van Veenendaal, Yosuke Yamashita, Denny Zeitlin.

Rising Star Piano: Kris Davis (5), Nik Bärtsch (3), Russ Lossing (2).

First pass: Ehud Asherie, Nik Bartsch, George Colligan, Kris Davis, Benoit Delbecq, Orrin Evans, Danny Fox, Tord Gustavsen, Russ Lossing, Matt Mitchell, Aaron Parks, David Virelles, Peter Zak.

Some more names not on the ballot: Bill Carrothers, Neil Cowley, Alexander Hawkins, Chris Hopkins, Michael McNeill, Harold O'Neal, Sergi Sirvent, Nobu Stowe, Håvard Wiik.

Electronic Keyboard: Matthew Shipp (5), Uri Caine (3), Craig Taborn (2).

First pass: Django Bates, Uri Caine, -Geore Colligan, John Medeski, Matthew Shipp, Craig Taborn, Gary Versace, -Bugge Wesseltoft. Rather than look for specialists, I'm inclined to take the opposite tack here and pick the best pianists who somehow got nominated in this mostly useless category.

Rising Star Electronic Keyboard: Nik Bärtsch (5), George Colligan (3), Rob Mazurek (2).

First pass: Nik Bartsch, George Colligan, Russ Lossing, Rob Mazurek, Jamie Saft, Bugge Wesseltoft.

Organ: Gary Versace (5), John Medeski (3), Brian Charette (2).

First pass: Carla Bley, Brian Charette, Joey DeFrancesco, Larry Goldings, Mike LeDonne, John Medeski, Gary Versace.

Rising Star Organ: Alexander Hawkins (5), Vince Seneri (3), Wayne Peet (2).

First pass: Pat Bianchi, Alexander Hawkins, Wayne Peet, Vince Seneri.

Violin: Jason Kao Hwang (5), Jenny Scheinman (3), Carlos Zingaro (2).

First pass: Charles Burnham, Regina Carter, Jeff Gauthier, Jason Kao Hwang, Eyvind Kang, Didier Lockwood, Mat Maneri, -Mary Oliver, Jenny Scheinman, -Rob Thomas, Carlos Zingaro.

Rising Star Violin: Szilard Mezei (5), Jesse Zubot (3), Aaron Weinstein (2).

First pass: -Jeff Gauthier, -Eyvind Kang, Carla Kihlstedt, -Didier Lockwood, Szilard Mezei, Diane Monroe, Mary Oliver, Rob Thomas, Aaron Weinstein, Jesse Zubot.

Guitar: Marc Ribot (5), Bill Frisell (3), Marty Grosz (2).

First pass: Rez Abbasi, John Abercrombie, Howard Alden, Peter Bernstein, Nels Cline, Bill Frisell, -Jim Hall [RIP], Mary Halvorson, Romero Lubambo, Russell Malone, John McLaughlin, Joe Morris, Jeff Parker, Bucky Pizzarelli, Marc Ribot, Terje Rypdal, John Scofield, Dave Stryker, James Blood Ulmer. There are a lot of younger guitarists I could see moving up here, but I felt like writing Grosz in. Sure, he's basically a rhythm guy, even plays banjo on the side, and he's not as skilled as Bucky Pizzarelli, he has a couple of superb records recently -- probably the best of a long career (much to long to pass him of as a rising star).

Rising Star Guitar: Raoul Björkenheim (5), Samo Salamon (3), Anders Nilsson (2),

First pass: Raoul Bjorkenheim, Jakob Bro, Liberty Ellman, Gilad Hekselman, Eric Hofbauer, John Lundbom, Pete McCann, Michael Musillami, Anders Nilsson, Jeff Parker, Jacob Young. Some more names: Eivind Aarset, On Ka'a Davis, Scott DuBois, Terrie Ex, Nir Felder, Gordon Grdina, Jostein Gulbrandsen, Ross Hammond, Luis Lopes, Terrence McManus, Miles Okazaki, Mark O'Leary, Kevin O'Neil, Rich Rosenthal, Samo Salamon, Billy Stein, Johnny Valentino. And a second list of older guitarists who arguably belong on one ballot or the other: Kenny Burrell, Joe Diorio, Pierre Dørge, Marc Ducret, James Emery, Scott Fields, Marty Grosz, Billy Jenkins, Vic Juris, Jim McAuley, Dom Minasi, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Doug Raney, Reg Schwager, Brad Shepik, John Stowell, Martin Taylor, David Torn, Ralph Towner, Ulf Wakenius.

Bass: William Parker (5), Reggie Workman (3), Peter Washington (2).

First pass: Ben Allison, Arild Andersen, Omer Avital, -Harrison Bankhead, Ron Carter, Avishai Cohen, Greg Cohen, Scott Colley, Stephan Crump, Mark Dresser, Ray Drummond, -Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, Michael Formanek, Drew Gress, Barry Guy, Charlie Haden [RIP], John Hebert, Mark Helias, Dave Holland, Marc Johnson, Joelle Leandre, Christian McBride, William Parker, Gary Peacock, -Eric Revis, Peter Washington, Reggie Workman. Lots of good choices here.

Rising Star Bass: Adam Lane (5), Ken Filiano (3), Moppa Elliott (2).

First pass: Pablo Aslan, Harrison Bankhead, Michael Bates, Carlos Bica, -Avishai Cohen, Greg Cohen, Moppa Elliott, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, Barry Guy, Devin Hoff, Adam Lane, Joelle Leandre, Lisa Mezzacappa, Thomas Morgan, Eric Revis, Per Zanussi. Last year I complained about the unusually large number of candidates on both ballots (23). They've significantly cleaned this up this year, reducing the intersection to two (Greg Cohen and Joelle Leandre). In cleaning this up, they picked up a lot of new new names, including some I've never heard of -- but somehow they missed Filiano, a guy with an amazing knack for showing up on good albums.

Electric Bass: Steve Swallow (5), Bob Cranshaw (3), Ingebrigt Haker Flaten (2).

First pass: Avishai Cohen, Bob Cranshaw, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten, James Genus, Drew Gress, John Patitucci.

Rising Star Electric Bass: Chris Morrissey (5), Stomu Takeishi (3), Nate McBride (2).

First pass: Tommy Babin, Nate McBride, Chris Morrissey, -Skuli Sverrisson, Stomu Takeishi.

Drums: Andrew Cyrille (5), Gerry Hemingway (3), Lewis Nash (2).

First pass: Barry Altschul, -Scott Amendola, Joey Baron, Han Bennink, Jim Black, Gerald Cleaver, Andrew Cyrille, Jack DeJohnette, Hamid Drake, Billy Hart, Gerry Hemingway, John Hollenbeck, -Dave King, Paul Lovens, Billy Martin, Lewis Nash, -Paal Nilssen-Love, Bobby Previte, Bill Stewart, Nasheet Waits, Kenny Washington, Matt Wilson.

Rising Star Drums: Tom Rainey (5), Tyshawn Sorey (3), Paal Nilssen-Love (2).

First pass: Scott Amendola, Tim Daisy, Joe Farnsworth, Tomas Fujiwara, Dave King, Allison Miller, Paal Nilssen-Love, Stefan Pasborg, Mike Reed, Frank Rosaly, Ches Smith, Tyshawn Sorey, Chad Taylor, Dan Weiss. Probably lots of omissions but Rainey is especially conspicuous.

Vibes: Jason Adasiewicz (5), Kenny Wolleson (3), Warren Smith (2).

First pass: Jason Adasiewicz, Karl Berger, Bobby Hutcherson, Khan Jamal, Terry Gibbs, Joe Locke, Mike Mainieri, Matt Moran, Steve Nelson, -Kevin Norton, Warren Smith, Kenny Wollesen.

Rising Star Vibes: Mulatu Astatke (5), Kevin Norton (3), Bryan Carrott (2).

First pass: Mulatu Astatke, Bryan Carrott, Khan Jamal, Kevin Norton, Mark Sherman. They cleaned up much of the overlap here, but still kept Khan Jamal (68 and not very active) in both lists. Astatke is old too, but new to most people.

Percussion: Han Bennink (5), Adam Rudolph (3), Kahil El'Zabar (2).

First pass: Han Benink, Mino Cinelu, Hamid Drake, Kahil El'Zabar, Trilok Gurtu, Zakir Hussain, Susie Ibarra, -Lukas Ligeti, Marilyn Mazur, Famoudou Don Moye, Adam Rudolph, Warren Smith, Takoshi Takeishi, Dan Weiss, Michael Zerang.

Rising Star Percussion: Kevin Diehl (5), Lukas Ligeti (3), Ravish Momin (2).

First pass: Kevin Diehl, Harris Eisenstadt, Lukas Ligeti, Ravish Momin, Andi Pupato, Ches Smith, Warren Smith, Satoshi Takeishi, Okay Temiz.

Miscellaneous Instrument: Bob Stewart (tuba) (5), Richard Galliano (accordion) (3), Rabih Abou Khalil (oud) (2).

First pass: Rabih Abou Khalil (oud), Ralph Carney (slide clarinet), Edmar Castaneda (Colombian harp), Joseph Daley (tuba), Erik Friedlander (cello), Richard Galliano (accordion), -Ben Goldberg (contra alto clarinet), Howard Johnson (tuba), Guy Klucevsek (accordion), -Peggy Lee (cello), Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello), Grégoire Maret (harmonica), Myra Melford (harmonium), David Murray (bass clarinet), Ernst Reijseger (cello), Marcus Rojas (tuba), Colin Stetson (bass sax), Bob Stewart (tuba), Gebhard Ullmann (bass clarinet), Gary Versace (accordion).

Rising Star Miscellaneous Instrument: Colin Stetson (bass sax) (5), Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello) (3), Cooper-Moore (diddley-bow) (2).

First pass: Kyle Bruckmann (oboe), Ben Goldberg (contra alto clarinet), Okkyung Lee (cello), Peggy Lee (cello), Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello), Rudi Mahall (bass clarinet), Andrea Parkins (accordion), Ernst Reijseger (cello), Marcus Rojas (tuba), Brandon Seabrook (banjo), Colin Stetson (bass sax). Again I wrote in Cooper-Moore (a fabulous pianist, by the way) before. Based on age (67) he should be past Rising Star, but he hasn't recorded much and few people are familiar with his work. Was tempted to move on, but his Digital Primitives album was one of my top ten in 2014.

Male Vocalist: Freddy Cole (5), James Blood Ulmer (3), Mose Allison (2).

First pass: Mose Allison, Theo Bleckmann, Freddy Cole, Bob Dorough, Giacomo Gates, Ed Reed, James Blood Ulmer.

Rising Star Male Vocalist: Jamie Davis (5), Mark Winkler (3), Ku-umba Frank Lacy (2).

First pass: Jamie Davis, Ku-umba Frank Lacy, Pete McGuinness, Ed Reed, Frank Senior, Mark Winkler.

Female Vocalist: Sheila Jordan (5), Barbara Morrison (3), Marlene VerPlanck (2).

First pass: Patricia Barber, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jay Clayton, Leena Conquest, Meredith D'Ambrosio, -Lorraine Feather, Roberta Gambarini, Sheila Jordan, Stacey Kent, Diana Krall, René Marie, Barbara Morrison, Dianne Reeves, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Mary Stallings, Fay Victor, Cassandra Wilson. Voted for Victor below, which opened up a slot for a write-in.

Rising Star Female Vocalist: Fay Victor (5), Catherine Russell (3), Lisa Sokolov (2).

First pass: Amy Allison, Yaala Ballin, Fay Claassen, Lorraine Feather, Champian Fulton, Lady Gaga, Nellie McKay, Nicki Parrott, Catherine Russell, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Lisa Sokolov, Fay Victor, Andrea Wolper.

This is about the point where I get bored and try to rush. I really think very little about composing and arranging.


Composer: Carla Bley (5), Wayne Shorter (3), John Zorn (2).

First pass: Ben Allison, Carla Bley, Ornette Coleman, Moppa Elliott, Jimmy Heath, Dave Holland, John Hollenbeck, -Steve Lehman, Ted Nash, Wayne Shorter, Wadada Leo Smith, Henry Threadgill, John Zorn.

Rising Star Composer: Steve Lehman (5), Adam Lane (3), Anthony Branker (2).

First pass: Anthony Branker, Moppa Elliott, Ben Goldberg, Steve Lehman, Hafez Modirzadeh, Mike Reed, Jenny Scheinman, Marcus Shelby, Tyshawn Sorey, Howard Wiley. Lane strikes me as the most Mingus-like of bassist-composers.

Arranger: Steven Bernstein (5), Misha Mengelberg (3), Carla Bley (2).

First pass: -Ben Allison, Darcy James Argue, Steven Bernstein, Carla Bley, John Hollenbeck, Misha Mengelberg, William Parker, Adam Rudolph.

Rising Star Arranger: David Weiss (5), Michael Bates (3), Marcus Shelby (2).

First pass: Ben Allison, Michael Bates, Uri Caine, Marcus Shelby, Joan Stiles, -Ryan Truesdell, David Weiss.

Record Label: Clean Feed (5), Intakt (3), No Business (2).

First pass: Arbors, AUM Fidelity, Clean Feed, Cuneiform, Delmark, ECM, Fresh Sound New Talent, HighNote, Intakt, NoBusiness, Pi, RogueArt, Sunnyside, Thirsty Ear, TUM, Tzadik. I'd write in Leo or NotTwo if they serviced me.

Producer: Joe Fields (5), John Zorn (3), Don Was (2).

First pass: Matt Baltisaris, Joe Fields, Mark Free, Orrin Keepnews [RIP], Don Was, Nils Winther, John Zorn.

Rising Star Producer: John Corbett (5), Taylor Ho Bynum (3), Leo Feigin (2).

First pass: Taylor Ho Bynum, John Corbett, Leo Feigin, -Mark Free, John Hollenbeck, Bruno Johnson, Seth Rosner/Yulun Wang, Spike Wilner/Ben Rubin.

Blues Artist or Group: Maria Muldaur (5), James Blood Ulmer (3), Duke Robillard (2).

First pass: Marcia Ball, Lurrie Bell, Eric Bibb, Guy Davis, Sue Foley, Buddy Guy, Corey Harris, Taj Mahal, Duke Robillard, Otis Taylor, James Blood Ulmer. I've written Muldaur in several times.

Blues Album (April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015): Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin, Common Ground: Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin Play the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy (Yep Roc) (5); Leo Welch: Sabougla Voices (Big Legal Mess) (3); John Hiatt, Terms of My Surrender (New West) (2).

Welch is a write-in, but at least all three are A- (which doesn't always happen). Other records on the ballot that I've heard (6 + 2 above, out of 48 total, 16.6%):

  1. Benjamin Booker, Benjamin Booker (ATO) [***]
  2. Davina and the Vagabonds, Sunshine (Roustabout) [**]
  3. Elvin Bishop, Can't Even Do Wrong Right (Alligator) [**]
  4. John Nemeth, Memphis Grease (Blue Corn) [**]
  5. Steve Earle & the Dukes, Terraplane (New West -15) [**]
  6. Eric Bibb, Blues People (Stony Plain) [*]
  7. Gary Clark Jr., Live! (Warner Bros.) [*]

Records on the ballot that I haven't heard (38, or 79.1%):

  1. Altered Five Blues Band, Cryin' Mercy (self-released)
  2. Andy T -- Nick Nixon Band, Livin' It Up (Delta Groove)
  3. Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa, Live in Amsterdam (J&R Adventures)
  4. Big Harp George, Chromaticism (self-released)
  5. Billy Boy Arnold, The Blues Soul of Billy Boy Arnold (Stony Plain)
  6. Bobby Rush with Blinddog Smokin', Decisions (Silver Talon)
  7. Boz Scaggs, A Fool to Care (429 Records)
  8. Dave Specter, Message In Blue (Delmark)
  9. David Vest, Roadhouse Revelation (Cordova Bay)
  10. Eden Brent, Jigsaw Heart (Yellow Dog)
  11. Eric Clapton & Friends, The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale (Bushbranch)
  12. Erin Harpe & the Delta Swingers, Love Whip Blues (Juju/VizzTone)
  13. Fo' Reel, Heavy Water (self-released)
  14. Janiva Magness, Original (Fathead)
  15. Jarekus Singleton, Refuse to Lose (Alligator)
  16. Joe Bonamassa, Muddy Wolf at Red Rocks (Ingrooves)
  17. John Mooney, Son & Moon (self-released)
  18. Johnny Winter, Step Back (Megaforce)
  19. Keb' Mo', Blues Americana (Kind of Blue)
  20. Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Goin' Home (Concord)
  21. Lucky Peterson, The Son of a Blues Player (Jazz Village)
  22. Mannish Boys, Wrapped Up and Ready (Delta Groove Productions)
  23. Mark Hummel, The Hustle Is Really On (Electro-Fi)
  24. Mary Flower, When My Bluebird Sings (Bluesette)
  25. Michael Jerome Brown, Sliding Delta (Borealis)
  26. Mud Morganfield & Kim Wilson, For Pops: A Tribute to Muddy Waters (Severn)
  27. Otis Clay & Johnny Rawls: Soul Brothers (Catfood)
  28. Rick Estrin & The Nightcats, You Asked For It . . . Live! (Alligator)
  29. Robert Cray Band, In My Soul (Mascot Label Group)
  30. Robin Banks, Modern Classics (RB Records)
  31. Rory Block, Hard Luck Child: A Tribute to Skip James (Stony Plain)
  32. Royal Southern Brotherhood, Heartsoulblood (RUF)
  33. Ruthie Foster, Promise of a Brand New Day (Blue Corn Music)
  34. Sean Costello, In The Magic Shop (Vizz Tone)
  35. Selwyn Birchwood, Don't Call No Ambulance (Alligator)
  36. Sugar Ray & The Bluetones, Living Tear to Tear (Severn)
  37. Vaneese Thomas, Blues for My Father (Segue)
  38. Walter Trout, The Blues Came Callin' (Mascot Label Group)

Beyond Artist of Group: The Roots (5), Merle Haggard (3), Aretha Franklin (2).

First pass: Arcade Fire, Mary J. Blige, Rosanne Cash, -Carolina Chocolate Drops, Neneh Cherry, Leonard Cohen, Ry Cooder, D'Angelo, Dr. John, Bob Dylan, Donald Fagen, Aretha Franklin, Cee-Lo Green, Merle Haggard, Kendrick Lamar, Nellie McKay, Janelle Monáe, Frank Ocean, The Roots, Raphael Saadiq, Spoon, Richard Thompson, Tin Hat, Tinariwen, Allen Toussaint, Kanye West.

Beyond Album (April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015): Wussy, Attica! (Shake It) (5); Jason Derulo, Talk Dirty (Beluga Heights/Warner Bros.) (3); D'Angelo, Black Messiah (RCA) (2). This is limited to their ballot. For a more expansive list (just 2014) look here.

Other records on the ballot that I've heard (44 + 3 above out of 58 total, 81.0%):

  • Aphex Twin, Syro (Warp) [A-]
  • Leonard Cohen, Popular Problems (Columbia) [A-]
  • Miranda Lambert, Platinum (RCA Nashville) [A-]
  • Nicki Minaj, The Pinkprint (Young Money) [A-]
  • Spoon, They Want My Soul (Loma Vista) [A-]
  • Todd Terje, It's Album Time (Olsen) [A-]
  • Azealia Banks, Broke With Expensive Taste (Prospect Park) [***]
  • Calle 13, MultiViral (El Abismo) [***]
  • EMA, The Future's Void (Matador) [***]
  • Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Piñata (Madlib Invazion) [***]
  • Lana Del Rey, Ultraviolence (Interscope) [***]
  • Mary J. Blige, The London Sessions (Capitol) [***]
  • Seattle Symphony/John Luther Adams, Become Ocean (Cantaloupe) [***]
  • Sturgill Simpson, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music (High Top Mountain) [***]
  • The War on Drugs, Lost in the Dream (Secretly Canadian) [***]
  • Toni Braxton & Babyface, Love, Marriage & Divorce (Motown) [***]
  • Against Me!, Transgender Dysphoria Blues (Total Treble) [**]
  • Beyoncé, Beyoncé (Columbia -13) [**]
  • Caribou, Merge (Our Love) [**]
  • Flying Lotus, You're Dead! (Warp) [**]
  • Grouper, Ruins (Kranky) [**]
  • Jenny Lewis, The Voyager (Warner Bros.) [**]
  • Run the Jewels, Run the Jewels 2 (Mass Appeal) [**]
  • Tinashe, Aquarius (RCA) [**]
  • tUnE-yArDs, Nikki Nack (4AD) [**]
  • Angel Olsen, Burn Your Fire For No Witness (Jagjaguwar) [*]
  • Future Islands, Singles (4AD) [*]
  • Sylvan Esso, Sylvan Esso (Partisan) [*]
  • The New Pornographers, Brill Bruisers (Matador/Last Gang) [*]
  • Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Hypnotic Eye (Reprise) [*]
  • Alt-J, This Is All Yours (Infectious) [B]
  • FKA Twigs, Lp1 (Young Turks) [B]
  • Perfume Genius, Too Bright (Matador) [B]
  • Ratking, So It Goes (XL) [B]
  • Rubén Blades, Tangos (Sunnyside) [B]
  • Sia, 1000 Forms of Fear (RCA) [B]
  • Swans, To Be Kind (Young God) [B]
  • TV On The Radio, Seeds (Harvest) [B]
  • Beck, Morning Phase (Capitol) [B-]
  • Bob Dylan, Shadows in the Night (Columbia -15) [B-]
  • Jack White, Lazaretto (Third Man/Columbia) [B-]
  • Sharon Van Etten, Are We There (Jagjaguwar) [B-]
  • YG, My Krazy Life (Def Jam) [B-]
  • Scott Walker + Sun O))), Soused (4AD) [C]

Records on the ballot that I haven't heard (11/58, 18.9%):

  1. Black Bananas, Electric Brick Wall (Drag City)
  2. Daniel Lanois, Flesh and Machine (Anti-)
  3. Foo Fighters, Sonic Highways (Roswell/RCA)
  4. Jason Aldean, Old Boots, New Dirt (Broken Bow)
  5. Joyce DiDonato, Stella Di Napoli (Erato)
  6. Lucinda Williams, Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone (Highway 20)
  7. Nickel Creek, A Dotted Line (Nonesuch)
  8. Robert Plant, Lullaby and . . . the Ceaseless Roar (Nonesuch/Warner Bros.)
  9. The Black Keys, Turn Blue (Nonesuch)
  10. Ty Segall, Manipulator (Drag City)
  11. Birdman Soundtrack [Original Drum Score by Antonio Sánchez] (Milan)