Downbeat Critics Poll: 2022

I voted on April 26, 2022. I keep track of what I've done in this file, which started off as an edit on last year's file. In past years, I've been known to spend a couple days sorting through the many ballot questions, but lately I've been cutting corners. {{ Never more so than this year, where I completed 4.25 hours after starting (minus an errand, that probably means I raced through it in less than 3 hours). For the category questions, that usually means I voted for the same people as last year. Big change this year was that I stuck to the ballot, with hardly any write-in votes (bold/italic below). }}

My usual practice is to first scan through the nominees, and jot down any that strike me as likely. Sometimes I'll also add some names that I felt should have been nominated. Some of the categories, like Jazz Artist, I find annoyingly undefined, and some, like Jazz Group, horribly cluttered. Some instrument slots are hugely competitive (e.g., piano, bass, drums), and some are so sparse or marginal (flute) I don't care for anyone. Some (electric bass and keyboards, soprano sax) are often populated by artists who mostly play something else -- limit yourself to specialists and they become as marginal as flautists.

Notes on my voting for Downbeat's 2021 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 splitting ten votes among two or three candidates. I generally split my vote 5-3-2.

What I generally do is start by scanning the nominees, building a list of people I would consider voting for. Then I go through my somewhat antiquated cribsheet and look for people they missed -- ones I would consider voting for (not necessarily everyone who should be on the ballot). Then I pick and assign votes. Most categories have both a main section and one called "Rising Star" (formerly "Talent Deserving Wider Recognition," or TDWR, a slightly different shading). For this I rarely consider anyone who has been recording for more than 20 years or who is over 50, but that's a rough guideline, and I'd prefer 10 years less.

Needless to say, the categories are far from evenly balanced, which will be obvious from my candidate lists below (although the mismatch will be much greater, as I routinely skip over pianists of much greater stature than people I'd consider for the sparser categories. Also, some categories I care more about than others (e.g., I'm not very conscious of arrangers and composers).

Veterans Committee Hall of Fame: This is the first year I've been invited to vote here. Idea is to pick up to ten of 25 nominees. Winners must be named on 75% of the ballots (although I don't see that here). Eligible: born 100+ years ago and/or died 50+ years ago. Less clear is "the artist previously has received a significant number of votes for the Hall of Fame," while the letter says "haven't been voted in through the polls." Winners last year: Yusef Lateef (1920-2013) and Booker Little (1938-61).

I voted for: Chu Berry, Buck Clayton, Bud Freeman, Paul Gonsalves, Professor Longhair, Machito, Shelly Manne, Cole Porter, Jimmy Rushing, Stuff Smith.

That left these candidates I didn't vote for: Mario Bauza, Bunny Berigan, Buddy Bolden, Big Sid Catlett, Dorothy Donegan, Tommy Dorsey, Ira Gershwin, Lightnin' Hopkins, Harry James, Eddie Jefferson, Jay McShann, Red Norvo, Les Paul, T-Bone Walker, Cootie Williams.

First pass I had seven names (Rushing, Clayton, Freeman, Gonsalves, Manne, Smith, and Professor Longhair). I wasn't sure about songwriters, but added Porter -- if you're going to have any, he should be at the head of the list. Hopkins was the most tempting of the remaining blues musicians, but I already had Longhair. I added Berry over Berigan and Catlett (marginal but brilliant swing musicians), probably my bias for saxophonists. I then added Red Norvo, but in the end bumped him for Machito (who I know a little better than Bauza). Nothing much against the others. I wouldn't mind seeing Dorsey get in.

I hadn't understood the 50-year rule before, but that explains why the Veterans Committee has been selecting so many 1940-50s musicians who died young: Jimmy Blanton (23), Paul Chambers (33), Tadd Dameron (48), Scott LaFaro (25), Booker Little (23), Herbie Nichols (44), Oscar Pettiford (37), Dinah Washington (39). Several others who died young were already eligible under the 100-year rule: Robert Johnson (27), Jimmie Lunceford (45), Chick Webb (34).

Some other names that should be considered seriously:

  • Henry "Red" Allen (1908-67)
  • Don Byas (1912-72)
  • Cozy Cole (1909-81)
  • Vic Dickenson (1906-84)
  • Harry "Sweets" Edison (1915-99)
  • Slim Gaillard (1916-90)
  • Jimmy Giuffre (1921-2008)
  • Illinois Jacquet (1922-2004)
  • Budd Johnson (1910-84)
  • Louis Jordan (1908-75)
  • Louis Prima (1911-78)
  • Don Redman (1900-64)
  • George Russell (1923-2009)
  • Luis Russell (1902-63)

Hall of Fame: Excludes previous winners, including 2021 winners: Carla Bley (C), Roy Hargrove (R), Yusef Lateef (V), Booker Little (V). My votes: Anthony Braxton (5), Abdullah Ibrahim (3), Illinois Jacquet (2).

First pass: on ballot I considered voting for: Kenny Barron, Paul Bley, *Anthony Braxton, Jaki Byard, Jack DeJohnette, Bill Frisell, Jan Garbarek, Grant Green, Dave Holland, *Abdullah Ibrahim, *Illinois Jacquet, Charles Lloyd, Oliver Nelson, Tito Puente, Pharoah Sanders, Gunther Schuller, Chucho Valdes.

Two musicians I've voted for in the past are no longer on the ballot: George Russell and Roswell Rudd. Russell was born in 1923, so he may show up on the Veterans ballot next year (unless they need an extra year: Jacquet was born in 1922, but he's still on the regular ballot). I could complain about many more names missing here, but let's limit it to: Sheila Jordan. Surprise add was Vi Redd, a saxophonist-singer with two albums 1962-63.

Jazz Artist: I assume this is someone who did monumental work during the last year or two, but I never quite know what that means. Wadada Leo Smith (5), Matthew Shipp (3), Tim Berne (2). Previous votes not on ballot: Satoko Fujii, William Parker, Ken Vandermark.

First pass: *Tim Berne, Anthony Braxton, Kris Davis, Dave Douglas, Bill Frisell, Mary Halvorson, Shabaka Hutchings, Myra Melford, *Matthew Shipp, *Wadada Leo Smith, Henry Threadgill, Miguel Zenon, John Zorn.

Rising Star -- Jazz Artist: Luke Stewart (5), Hedvig Mollestad (3), Peter Evans (2). They've dropped a lot of still-young musicians off the ballot here, leaving me very confused and indifferent. E.g., why nominate Moses Boyd but not Binker Golding?

First pass: Moses Boyd, Theon Cross, Josephine Davies, Peter Evans, Makaya McCraven, *Hedvig Mollestad, *Luke Stewart, Brandee Younger.

Jazz Album of the Year (April 1, 2021-March 31, 2022):

  • Sons of Kemet, Black To The Future (Impulse!) (5)
  • James Brandon Lewis Red Lily Quintet, Jesup Wagon (Tao Forms) (3)
  • Steve Coleman and Five Elements, Live At The Village Vanguard II (MDW NTR) (Pi) (2)

Other A-list albums on ballot (more than usual):

  • Artifacts, . . . And Then There's This (Astral Spirits)
  • Theon Cross, Intra-I (New Soil)
  • Whit Dickey, Astral Long Form (Tao Forms -22)
  • Julieta Eugenio, Jump (Greenleaf -22)
  • Tomas Fujiwara's Triple Double, March (Firehouse 12 -22)
  • Fred Hersch, Breath By Breath (Palmetto -22)
  • James Brandon Lewis Quartet, Code Of Being (Intakt)
  • Mostly Other People Do The Killing, Disasters Vol. 1 (Hot Cup -22)
  • Marta Sanchez, SAAM (Spanish American Art Museum) (Whirlwind -22)
  • Wadada Leo Smith, Sacred Ceremonies (TUM)
  • Kevin Sun, <3 Bird (Endectomorph)
  • Henry Threadgill Zooid, Poof (Pi)

Historical Album (April 1, 2021-March 31, 2022):

  • Bill Evans, Behind The Dikes: The 1969 Netherlands Recordings (Elemental) (5)
  • Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, First Flight to Tokyo: The Lost 1961 Recordings (Blue Note) (3)
  • Son House, Forever On My Mind (Easy Eye -22) (2)

Other A-list records nominated:

  • Dave Brubeck Trio, Live From Vienna 1967 (Brubeck Editions -22)
  • Roy Hargrove/Mulgrew Miller, In Harmony (Resonance)
  • Cecil Taylor, The Complete, Legendary, Live Return Concert At The Town Hall NYC November 4, 1973 (Oblivion -22)

Both of these lists are a small subset of my Best Jazz of 2021 lists (77 new albums, 32 reissues/archival albums).

Jazz Group: Sons of Kemet (5), Mostly Other People Do the Killing (3), Thumbscrew (2).

First pass: Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra, *Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Rempis Percussion Quartet, Shabaka and the Ancestors, *Sons of Kemet, *Thumbscrew.

Rising Star Jazz Group: Irreversible Entanglements (5), Binker and Moses (3), Ill Considered (2).

First pass: *Binker And Moses, ICP Septet, *Irreversible Entanglements.

Large Ensemble: Burnt Sugar/The Arkestra Chamber (5), Satoko Fujii Orchestra (3), Steven Bernstein Millennial Territory Orchestra (2).

First pass: *Steven Bernstein Millennial Territory Orchestra, Anthony Brown's Asian-American Jazz Orchestra, *Burnt Sugar/The Arkestra Chamber, *Satoko Fujii Orchestra, ICP Orchestra, Sun Ra Arkestra.

Rising Star Large Ensemble: Webber/Morris Big Band (5), Ghost Train Orchestra (3), Vince Giordano's Nighthawks (2).

First pass: There must be some better choices somewhere. Revoting last year's picks.

Trumpet: Wadada Leo Smith (5), Kirk Knuffke (3), Taylor Ho Bynum (2).

First pass: Jaimie Branch, Steven Bernstein, Taylor Ho Bynum, Dave Douglas, Jonathan Finlayson, Kirk Knuffke, Brian Lynch, Ron Miles, Enrico Rava, *Wadada Leo Smith, David Weiss.

Rising Star Trumpet: Jonathan Finlayson (5), Lina Allemano (3), Steph Richards (2),

First pass: *Lina Allemano, Peter Evans, *Jonathan Finlayson, Jason Palmer, *Steph Richards, Nate Wooley.

Trombone: Steve Swell (5), Joe Fiedler (3), Jeb Bishop (2).

First pass: Ray Anderson, Dan Barrett, *Jeb Bishop, Samuel Blaser, Luis Bonilla, *Joe Fiedler, Curtis Fowlkes, George Lewis, -Phil Ranelin, *Steve Swell, Steve Turre.

Rising Star Trombone: Mats Aleklint (5), Michael Dessen (3), Alan Ferber (2).

First pass: *Mats Aleklint, *Michael Dessen, *Alan Ferber, JC Sanford. There must be more, but I'm running low on patience.

Soprano Saxophone: Jane Ira Bloom (5), Evan Parker (3), Dave Liebman (2).

First pass: *Jane Ira Bloom, Jan Garbarek, Ingrid Laubrock, *Dave Liebman, Roscoe Mitchell, Sam Newsome, *Evan Parker, Steve Wilson. Most nominees are tenor saxophonists who play soprano on the side.

Rising Star Soprano Saxophone: Aurora Nealand (5), Steven Lugerner (3), Jasmine Lovell-Smith (2).

First pass: *Jasmine Lovell-Smith, *Steve Lugerner, *Aurora Nealand, Jason Robinson.

Alto Saxophone: Dave Rempis (5) François Carrier (3), Allen Lowe (2).

First pass: Gary Bartz, Tim Berne, Anthony Braxton, Steve Coleman, Donald Harrison, Benjamin Herman, Vincent Herring, Jon Irabagon, Oliver Lake, Steve Lehman, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Charles McPherson, -Michael Moore, Ted Nash, Dave Rempis, Jim Snidero, Henry Threadgill, Miguel Zenón, John Zorn.

Rising Star Alto Saxophone: Dave Rempis (5), Silke Eberhard (3). Nick Mazzarella (2).

First pass: Andrew D'Angelo, Mike DiRubbo, *Silke Eberhard, *Nick Mazzarella, Angelika Niescier, *Dave Rempis, Greg Ward.

Tenor Saxophone: James Brandon Lewis (5), Rich Halley (3), Shabaka Hutchings (2).

First pass: Eric Alexander, JD Allen, Jerry Bergonzi, Seamus Blake, Peter Brötzmann, James Carter, Joel Frahm, George Garzone, Shabaka Hutchings, Jon Irabagon, *James Brandon Lewis, Dave Liebman, Charles Lloyd, Joe Lovano, Tony Malaby, Joe McPhee, -David Murray, -Larry Ochs, Evan Parker, Ivo Perelman, Houston Person, Chris Potter, Joshua Redman, Dave Rempis, Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, Wayne Shorter, Ken Vandermark.

Rising Star Tenor Saxophone: Kevin Sun (5), Binker Golding (3). Eddie Bayard (3).

First pass: Josephine Davies, *Binker Golding, Keefe Jackson, Tivon Pennicott, Grant Stewart, *Kevin Sun.

Baritone Saxophone: Ken Vandermark (5), Mats Gustafsson (3), Brian Landrus (2).

First pass: Tim Berne, James Carter, Ronnie Cuber, Claire Daly, Vinny Golia, *Mats Gustafsson, *Brian Landrus, Dave Rempis, Scott Robinson, Josh Sinton, Gary Smulyan, John Surman, Gebhard Ullman, *Ken Vandermark.

Rising Star Baritone Saxophone: Mikko Innanen (5), Alex Harding (3), Timo Lassy (2).

First pass: Charles Evans, *Alex Harding, *Mikko Innanen, *Timo Lassy, Adam Schroeder.

Clarinet: Oscar Noriega (5), Marty Ehrlich (3), Michael Moore (2).

First pass: Andy Biskin, Don Byron, Evan Christopher, Anat Cohen, Marty Ehrlich, Ben Goldberg, Francois Houle, David Krakauer, Jeff Lederer, Rudi Mahall, Michael Moore, Oscar Noriega, Ken Peplowski, Michel Portal, Ned Rothenberg, Louis Sclavis, Chris Speed, Jason Stein, Gianluigi Trovesi, Ken Vandermark.

Rising Star Clarinet: Avram Fefer (5), Mike McGinnis (3) Chris Byars (2).

First pass: Joachim Badenhorst, Chris Byars, Avram Fefer, Aram Shelton.

Flute: Juhani Aaltonen (5), Nicole Mitchell (3), Henry Threadgill (2).

First pass: Same as last time.

Rising Star Flute: Rent Romus (5), Itai Kriss (3).

First pass: None.

Piano: Matthew Shipp (5), Satoko Fujii (3) Myra Melford (2).

First pass: Kenny Barron, George Cables, Uri Caine, Bill Charlap, Marc Copland, Marilyn Crispell, Kris Davis, Satoko Fujii, Hal Galper, Fred Hersch, Abdullah Ibrahim, Ethan Iverson, Vijay Iyer, Joachim Kuhn, Brad Mehldau, Myra Melford, Matt Mitchell, Jason Moran, Renee Rosnes, Alexander von Schlippenbach, *Matthew Shipp, Craig Taborn, Randy Weston [RIP], Denny Zeitlin.

Rising Star Piano: Marta Sanchez (5), Alexander Hawkins (3), Kaja Draksler (2).

First pass: Ehud Asherie, Leo Genovese, Aaron Parks, *Matt Piet, *Marta Sanchez. For some reason they purged a lot of names here, then added a bunch I never found all that interesting.

Electronic Keyboard: Jamie Saft (5), Soren Kjaegaard (3), George Colligan (2).

First pass: Nik Bärtsch, Django Bates, Uri Caine, George Colligan, Wayne Horvitz, Soren Kjaegaard, John Medeski, *Jamie Saft, Matthew Shipp, Craig Taborn, Gary Versace.

Rising Star Electronic Keyboard: Russ Lossing (5), Elliot Galvin (3), Bill Carrothers (2).

First pass: *Elliot Galvin, *Russ Lossing.

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

First pass: Brian Charette, Joey DeFrancesco, Jared Gold, Larry Goldings, Mike LeDonne, John Medeski, Jamie Saft, Gary Versace.

Rising Star Organ: Alexander Hawkins (5), Greg Lewis (3), Vince Seneri (2).

First pass: Alexander Hawkins, Greg Lewis, Vince Seneri.

Guitar: Mary Halvorson (5), Marc Ribot (3), Gordon Grdina (2).

First pass: Rez Abbasi, Peter Bernstein, Nels Cline, Liberty Ellman, Bill Frisell, *Gordon Grdina, *Mary Halvorson, John McLaughlin, Joe Morris, Wolfgang Muthspiel, *Marc Ribot, John Scofield, Dave Stryker, James Blood Ulmer.

Rising Star Guitar: Jon Lundblom (5), Hedvig Mollestad [Thomassen] (3). Eric Hofbauer (2).

First pass: Raoul Bjorkenheim, Scott DuBois, *Eric Hofbauer, *Jon Lundbom, Pete McCann, *Hedvig Mollestad, Michael Musillami, Brandon Seabrook.

Bass: William Parker (5), Peter Washington (3), John Hébert (2).

First pass: Ben Allison, Arild Andersen, Michael Bisio, Ron Carter, Avishai Cohen, Scott Colley, Stephan Crump, Mark Dresser, Ray Drummond, Michael Formanek, Drew Gress, Barry Guy, *John Hébert, Mark Helias, Dave Holland, Marc Johnson, Joëlle Léandre, Christian McBride, Thomas Morgan, *William Parker, Eric Revis, Harvie S, *Peter Washington, Reggie Workman.

Rising Star Bass: Moppa Elliott (5), Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (3), John Edwards (2).

First pass: Joshua Abrams, Pablo Aslan, *John Edwards, *Moppa Elliott, *Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, Adam Lane, Matt Penman, Katie Thiroux.

Electric Bass: Steve Swallow (5), Jamaaladeen Tacuma (3), Stomu Takeishi (2).

First pass: Avishai Cohen, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten, Matthew Garrison, James Genus, Drew Gress, Charnett Moffett, Linda May Han Oh, John Patitucci, Steve Swallow, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Stomu Takeishi. Lots of double bassists have picked up the bass guitar, but I've found it hard to track and evaluate them.

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

First pass: Tommy Babin, Nate McBride, Chris Morrissey.

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

First pass: Sam Bardfeld, Charles Burnham, Regina Carter, Jeff Gauthier, Jason Kao Hwang, Eyvind Kang, Carla Kihlstedt, Mat Maneri, Aaron Weinstein, Jenny Scheinman, Carlos Zingaro.

Rising Star Violin: Szilard Mezei (5), Jesse Zubot (3), Macie Stewart (2).

First pass: -Sarah Bernstein, Szilard Mezei, Diane Monroe, Rob Thomas, Aaron Weinstein, Jesse Zubot.

Drums: Andrew Cyrille (5), Jim Black (3), Mike Reed (2).

First pass: -Barry Altschul, Joey Baron, Han Bennink, *-Jim Black, Gerald Cleaver, *Andrew Cyrille, Jack DeJohnette, Hamid Drake, Joe Farnsworth, Tomas Fujiwara, Billy Hart, -Gerry Hemingway, John Hollenbeck, Dave King, -Paul Lovens, Lewis Nash, Bobby Previte, *Mike Reed, Rudy Royston, Tyshawn Sorey, Bill Stewart, Nasheet Waits, Kenny Washington, Matt Wilson.

Rising Star Drums: Paal Nilssen-Love (5), Tim Daisy (3), Devin Gray (2).

First pass: Moses Boyd, Tim Daisy, Devin Gray, Dave King, Makaya McCraven, Allison Miller, Paal Nilssen-Love, Ches Smith, Dan Weiss.

Percussion: Han Bennink (5), Hamid Drake (3), Marilyn Mazur (2).

First pass: Han Bennink, Mino Cinelu, Hamid Drake, Kahil El'Zabar, Trilok Gurtu, Zakir Hussain, Susie Ibarra, Marilyn Mazur, Famoudou Don Moye, Leon Parker, Adam Rudolph, Warren Smith, Dan Weiss, Michael Zerang.

Rising Star Percussion: Kevin Diehl (5), Harris Eisenstadt (3), Ravish Momin (2).

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

Vibraphone: Karl Berger (5), Jason Adasiewicz (3), Warren Smith (2).

First pass: Jason Adasiewicz, Mulatu Astatke, Karl Berger, Gunter Hampel, Steve Hobbs, Khan Jamal, Terry Gibbs, Joe Locke, Mike Mainieri, Matt Moran, Steve Nelson, Kevin Norton, Warren Smith, Kenny Wollesen.

Rising Star Vibes: Mike Dillon (5), Yuhan Su (3) Patricia Brennan (2).

First pass: *Patricia Brennan, *Mike Dillon, *Yuhan Su.

Miscellaneous Instrument: Tomeka Reid (cello) (5), Gary Versace (accordion) (3), Marcus Rojas (tuba) (2).

First pass: Rabih Abou Khalil (oud), Edmar Castaneda (Colombian harp), Joseph Daley (tuba), Erik Friedlander (cello), Richard Galliano (accordion), Guy Klucevsek (accordion), Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello), Grégoire Maret (harmonica), Myra Melford (harmonium), David Murray (bass clarinet), Tomeka Reid (cello), Marcus Rojas (tuba), Gebhard Ullmann (bass clarinet), Gary Versace (accordion), Brandee Younger (harp).

Rising Star Miscellaneous Instrument: Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello) (5), Andrea Parkins (accordion) (3) Brandon Seabrook (banjo) (2).

First pass: Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello), Andrea Parkins (accordion), Tomeka Reid (cello), Ernst Reijseger (cello), Marcus Rojas (tuba), Brandon Seabrook (banjo), Jason Stein (bass clarinet), Colin Stetson (bass sax), Katherine Young (bassoon).

Female Vocalist: Catherine Russell (5), Sheila Jordan (3), Fay Victor (2).

First pass: Dee Alexander, Patricia Barber, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jay Clayton, Leena Conquest, Lorraine Feather, Roberta Gambarini, Sheila Jordan, Stacey Kent, Diana Krall, René Marie, Barbara Morrison, Dianne Reeves, Catherine Russell, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Mary Stallings, Fay Victor, Cassandra Wilson.

Rising Star Female Vocalist: Nellie McKay (5), Nicki Parrott (3), Lisa Sokolov (2).

First pass: Fay Claassen, Lady Blackbird, Nellie McKay, Nicki Parrott, Lisa Sokolov, Fay Victor, Andrea Wolper.

Male Vocalist: Freddy Cole (5), James Blood Ulmer (3), Giacomo Gates (2). Former write-in vote: Ed Reed.

First pass: Tony Bennett, Theo Bleckmann, Freddy Cole, Bob Dorough [RIP], Giacomo Gates, Ed Reed, James Blood Ulmer, Kenny Washington, Mark Winkler.

Rising Star Male Vocalist: Jamie Davis (5).

First pass: Jamie Davis, -Pete McGuinness, -Frank Senior.

Note: fatigue sitting in, just want to get this over.

Composer: Carla Bley (5), Moppa Elliott (3), John Hollenbeck (2).

First pass: Ben Allison, Carla Bley, Moppa Elliott, Dave Holland, John Hollenbeck, Steve Lehman, Rob Mazurek, Ted Nash, Wayne Shorter, Wadada Leo Smith, Henry Threadgill, John Zorn.

Rising Star Composer: Moppa Elliott (5), Ingrid Laubrock (3), Taylor Ho Bynum (2).

First pass: Moppa Elliott, Ethan Iverson, Ingrid Laubrock, -Allison Miller.

Arranger: Steven Bernstein (5), John Hollenbeck (3), Carla Bley (2).

First pass: Darcy James Argue, Steven Bernstein, Carla Bley, John Hollenbeck, Misha Mengelberg, Ted Nash, William Parker, Adam Rudolph, Ryan Truesdell, John Zorn.

Rising Star Arranger: Jonathan Finlayson (5), Allison Miller (3), Makaya McCraven (2).

First pass: none (but see above).

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

First pass: Arbors, AUM Fidelity, Clean Feed, Cuneiform, Delmark, ECM, Enja, Firehouse 12, Fresh Sound New Talent, Gearbox Records, Greenleaf Music, HatHut, HighNote, Intakt, Leo, NoBusiness, Origin, Pi, Relative Pitch, RogueArt, Savant, Smoke Sessions, SteepleChase, Sunnyside, TUM, Tzadik.

Producer: John Zorn (5), Don Was (3), Dave Holland (2).

First pass: Matt Baltisaris, Mark Free, Gil Goldstein, Bill Laswell, Don Was, Nils Winther, John Zorn.

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

First pass: Taylor Ho Bynum, John Corbett, Pedro Costa, Liberty Ellman, Seth Rosner/Yulun Wang, Spike Wilner.

Blues Artist or Group: Maria Muldaur (5), Sue Foley (3), Swamp Dogg (2).

First pass: Marcia Ball, Lurrie Bell, Eric Bibb, Elvin Bishop, Guy Davis, Sue Foley, Billy F. Gibbons, Buddy Guy, Bettye LaVette, Taj Mahal, Duke Robillard, Bobby Rush, Otis Taylor, James Blood Ulmer. I've written Muldaur in several times.

Blues Album (April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021):

  • Sue Foley, Pinky's Blues (Stony Plain) (5)
  • Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, Dance Songs For Hard Times (Family Owned) (3)

Other A-list albums I recognized on the ballot:

/* Eddie 9V, Little Black Flies (Ruf) Bernard Allison, Highs & Lows (Ruf) Eric Bibb, Dear America (Provogue) [**] Joe Bonamassa, Now Serving: Royal Tea: Live From The Ryman (J&R Adventures) Tommy Castro, A Bluesman Came To Town (Alligator) Poppa Chubby, Emotional Gangster (Dixiefrog) Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters, Mercy Me (Stony Plain) Tinsley Ellis, Devil May Care (Alligator) Samantha Fish, Faster (Rounder) Corey Harris, Insurrection Blues (M.C.) [**] Eric Gales, Crown (Prologue) Cristone "Kingfish" Ingram, 662 (Alligator) Gov't Mule, Heavy Load Blues (Fantasy/Concord) Diunna Greenleaf, I Ain't Playin' (Little Village) John Mayall, The Sun Is Shining Down (Forty Below) Larry McCray, Blues Without You (KTBA) Memphissippi Sounds, Memphissippi Sounds (Little Village) Charlie Musselwhite, Mississippi Son (Alligator) North Mississippi Allstars, Set Sail (New West -22) Keb' Mo', Good To Be . . . (Concord -22) Duke Robillard, The Called It Rhythm & Blues (Stony Plain) Dave Specter, Six String Soul (Delmark) Bob Stroger, That's My Name (Delmark) Veneese Thomas, Fight The Good Fight (Blue Heart) Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne, Blues From Chicago To Paris (Stony Plain) Carolyn Wonderland, Tempting Fate (Alligator) Raphael Wressnig & Igor Prado, Groove & Good Times (Pepper Cake) */

Beyond Artist of Group: Billie Eilish (5), Dua Lipa (3), Run the Jewels (2).

First pass: Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish, Run the Jewels, Taylor Swift.

Beyond Album (April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021):

  • Jaubi, Nafs At Peace (Astigmatic) (5)
  • Mdou Moctar, Afrique Victime (Matador) (3)
  • Allison Russell, Outside Child (Fantasy) (2)

Other A-list albums I recognized on the ballot:

  • Pastor Champion, I Just Want To Be A Good Man (Luaka Bop)
  • Malcolm Jiyane, Umdali (Mushroom Hour Half)
  • .
  • Bola Sete, Samba In Seattle: Live At The Penthouse (1966-1968) (Tompkins Square)
/* Adele, 30 (BFB) [B-] Arooj Aftab, Vulture Prince (New Amsterdam) [*] Jon Batiste, We Are (Verve) [**] Eric Clapton, The Lady In The Balcony: Lockdown Sessions (Mercury) Coachemea, Vol. II: Baca Sewa (Daptone) Dedicated Men of Zion, The Devil Don't Like It (Bible & Tire -22) [***] Mabe Fratti, Será que ahora podremos entendernos (Unheard of Hope) Lucy Dacus, Home Video (Beggar's Banquet) [**] Rhiannon Giddens, They're Calling Me Home (Nonesuch) [***] Robert Glasper, Black Radio III (Loma Vista -22) [*] Arushi Jain, Under The Lilac Sky (Leaving) [***] Angelique Kidjo, Mother Nature (Verve) [B] Rokia Koné/Jacknife Lee, Bamanan (Real World -22) [***] Khruangbin/Leon Bridges, Texas Moon (Dead Oceans -22) Ledisi Sings Nina Little Simz, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert (Age 101/AWAL) [***] Pat Metheny, From This Place (Nonesuch) Silk Sonic, An Evening With Silk Sonic (Atlantic) [**] Somi, Zenzile: The Reimagination Of Miriam Makeba (Salon Africana -22) [*] Jasmine Sullivan, Heaux Tales (RCA) [*] Tower of Power, 50 Years Of Funk & Soul: Live At The Fox Theater (Artistry/Mack Avenue) Trombone Shorty, Lifted (Blue Note -22) Tyler the Creator, Call Me If You Get Lost (Sony/Columbia) [***] Wild Up, Julius Eastman, Vol. 1: Femenine (New Amsterdam) [***] */

Post-Poll Comments

Downbeat Readers Poll