Announcing The Winners Of The JazzBuffalo Reader’s And Fan Poll!!!

There was a tremendous outpouring of #BuffaloLove for the first annual JazzBuffalo Reader’s and Fan Poll.  The poll was taken exactly 1,091 times in the past week!  A big thank you to all the musicians, supporters, and fans of jazz that participated in the poll.

Let us recap.  The nominees came from you the fans that participated in the online JazzBuffalo nomination survey conducted from December 13th through December 27th.  The poll nominees represent the top 2 to 6 nominees written-in by you the fans of jazz.  This is an exceptional demonstration of the audiences in Buffalo knowing their jazz!  Since January 2, the poll has been open for voting and closed shortly after midnight in the early hours of January 11th.  

I want to thank Randy Kramer, Executive Director of MusicalFare, and Mike Caputi, proprietor of the Daily Planet, for independently viewing poll results.  Each are tremendous supporters of jazz in Buffalo.

Before reading on, keep in mind you, the fans of jazz, are the real winners.  It allows for all fans to voice their appreciation and to become familiar with the vast musical jazz talent in the Greater Buffalo area. 

What follows are the winners of the first annual JazzBuffalo Reader’s and Fan Poll.  In some categories, runner-ups will be referred to as honorable mentions.   Congratulations to all the winners!  Enjoy!

2014 Jazz Tenor Saxophone

Dave schiavoneWinner: Dave Schiavone

Honorable Mention: Phil DiRe

Dave Schiavone is the stellar sax player, on tenor and alto sax, who has a rich history of performing internationally and locally.  Dave also has been teaching and leading the jazz ensemble at the University of Buffalo.

Phil DiRe has returned to playing and certainly made his mark in the past few years.  If you are lucky, you will catch Dave Schiavone and Phil DiRe together as recently occurred with the Phil DiRe Quintet.

2014 Jazz Alto Saxophone

BobbymilitelloWinner: Bobby Militello

Bobby Militello is the quintessential alto sax player with a storied international journey with jazz greats. 


2014 Jazz Baritone Saxophone

Bruce johnstoneWinner: Bruce Johnstone

Honorable Mentions: Harry Fackelman

Bruce Johnstone is one of the area’s premier jazz musicians with a lengthy history of teaching at Fredonia.  Bruce has performed with the likes of Dexter Gordon and was a member of Maynard Ferguson’s big band.  Harry Fackelman, who plays all the versions of saxophone in multiple setting, gets honorable mention.


2014 Jazz Trumpet

TimClarke002_240Winner: Tim Clarke

Honorable Mentions: Mark Filsinger and Andy Peruzzini

Since moving from his hometown of Eugene, Oregon to the Buffalo area several years ago, Tim Clarke has established himself as the area’s premier jazz trumpet performer.  Only a few votes separated Mark Filsinger and Andy Peruzzini for runner-up.  Both are two of the area’s most passionate jazz educators and performers.


2014 Jazz Trombone

John hasselbackWinner: John Hasselback, Jr.

Honorable Mention: Phil Sims

This category only included Phil and John.  Only four votes separated the two.  The Buffalo area is the beneficiary of having two of the best trombone players you will find anywhere in the country.  John Hasselback, Jr., a respected jazz educator and performer, has performed in various settings.  Phil Simms is well known for leading quartets and big bands in the area.

2014 Jazz Guitar

Mike moserWinner: Mike Moser

Honorable Mention: George Kane

Mike Moser, through studio teaching as well as performing, has enriched many jazz bands and individual learners along the years.  The same can be said for George Kane, a dynamic presence in any jazz session.


2014 Jazz Piano

Bobby jones 1Winner: Bobby Jones

Honorable Mention: George Caldwell

Bobby Jones is one of the area’s most respected jazz musicians and pianists.  As a leader and arranger, Bobby Jones makes his mark.  George Caldwell, since moving to Buffalo several years ago and who continues to lead efforts nationally, has become one our premier jazz pianists and arrangers.

2014 Jazz Accompaniment

Bobby militello fluteWinner:  Bobby Militello – Flute

Honorable Mention: Carol McLaughlin – Flute

Fans voted and clearly favored the flute performances of two of our amazing jazz musicians.

2014 Jazz Acoustic Bass

Zap-IntensityWinner: Paul Zapalowski

Honorable Mention: Sabu Adeyola

Teacher and performer Paul Zapalowski has performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic and in numerous other settings.  And, has toured with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and the Woody Herman Orchestra.  Sabu Adeyola is a class act that has performed as well as recorded with such jazz greats as McCoy Tyner, Ahmad Jamal, and Gary Burton. 

2014 Jazz Electric Bass

JlWinner: Jerry Livingston

Honorable Mention: Jack Kulp

Jerry Livingston is the gentle giant of electric bass in Buffalo, having recorded with many jazz and blues artist.  And, was the bass player on five of Rick James CD’s.  Jack Kulp, formerly of the jazz-rock fusion band Gamalon, has recorded and played with many of Buffalo’s jazz musicians.

2014 Jazz Vibes

JoanneLorenzo250Winner: Joanne Lorenzo

Joanne Lorenzo, dating back to her time performing with jazz legend Al Tinney, is one of the area’s premier vibes performers.  When finding time outside of her ministry, The Magdalene Project, in Niagara Falls, she awes audiences and fans with her superb musicianship.


2014 Jazz Drums

John bacon 1Winner: John Bacon, Jr.

Honorable Mentions: Louie Marino and Tom Kasperek

John Bacon, Jr. is one of our most prolific musicians in the area.  Versatile as a drummer, vibes player, composer, arranger, educator, and leader of the Fredonia State Latin Jazz Band, John continues to be a major presence in the jazz community.  Louie Marino is the area’s venerable performer as well as Tom Kasperek, in multiple settings. 

2014 Jazz Female Vocalist

MaryWinner: Mary McMahon

Honorable Mention: Katy Minor

After a long hiatus, Mary McMahon has made a remarkable comeback as one of the area’s best female vocalists.  A former educator, with a history of singing with Bobby Jones in earlier years, recently performed a sold-out Great American Songbook show at MusicalFare Premier Cabaret. Katy Minor has burst on the scene, making a seamless transition from her musical theatre stage presence and strong vocals to jazz settings. 

2014 Jazz Male Vocalist

Civilettosinatra2_200Winner Jack Civiletto

Honorable Mention: Dave Calire

Jack Civiletto is the well-loved versatile singer you may find singing Frank Sinatra tunes and blues.  Dave Calire brings singing and entertainment to the jazz-fusion group Winelight.


2014 Jazz Classic BeBop/Hard Bop Group

House of relicsWinner: What Would Mingus Do?

Honorable Mention: Phil Sims Jazz Quartet

What Would Mingus Do? has been winning fans over for the last three years with their fabulous original compositions.  Led by tenor sax player, composer, and arranger Kelly Bucheger, the group has had several JazzBuffalo nominees in the group.  Their House of Relic CD is much acclaimed.  Phil Sims Jazz Quartet, led by trombonist Phil Sims, have been a regular presence in 2014 on many weekends, endeared by many fans.

2014 Jazz Fusion Group

Gruvology cdWinner: Gruvology

Gruvology wins this category impressively.  Led by Bernard Kunz and Walter Kemp III, they compose original jazz-fusion tunes, which you can hear on their recently released CD, Freeway.  Gruvology is a must-see group for jazz-fusion fans.


2014 Latin Jazz Group

Wendell Rivera (2)Winner:  Wendell Rivera Latin Jazz Band 

Honorable Mention:  Sol Y Sombra

Wendell Rivera Latin Jazz Group has entertained audiences with originals and infectious rhythms for the last couple of decades – and fans show their love.  Sol Y Sombra, led by Kevin Doyle, has been a mainstay at the Anchor Bar on Saturdays and contrast with Latin Jazz in an intimate setting.



2014 Jazz Big Band

Buffalo brassWinner: Buffalo Brass Big Band

Honorable Mention: Joe Baudo Big Band

Phil Sims leads the Buffalo Brass Big Band, which is a collection of superb jazz musicians throughout this area.  Joe Baudo Big Band has made a pronounced Tuesday lunch and afternoon presence at the Sportsmen Tavern featuring some of the most venerable big band players in the area as well.

2014 Jazz Infused Soul, Funk, or R&B

GruvologyWinner: Gruvology

Honorable Mention: Blue Stone Groove

Gruvology takes this category due to their versatility and expansive abilities in jazz-fusion.  Bursting on the scene in the second half of 2014 is the dynamic and young group Blue Stone Groove.  Coming in a close second, the group is led by David Pinchoff on keyboards and the JazzBuffalo female vocalist nominee Einat Agmon puts on quite a show.

2014 Jazz Venue

Pausa backWinner: PAUSA Art House

Honorable Mention:  Historic Colored Musician’s Club

In only a one-year timeframe, Jon and Laz Nelson put much love and hard work into creating a vibrant establishment offering some of the best music in town.  George Scott and the CMC Board has made big strides in fulfilling a vision of a museum and performing hub. 

2014 Most Memorable Jazz Performance

Mct ppWinner: My Cousin Tone’ at PAUSA Art House

Honorable Mentions: Carol McLaughlin at the Queen City Jazz Festival and Phil DiRe Legends of Jazz Concert at 189 Main

No doubt, My Cousin Tone’ fan base came out to vote for what was a very memorable show at Pausa Art House in early fall.  Special mention for one of the highlights of the Queen City Jazz Festival with Carol McLaughlin’s band and another mention for a spectacular concert led by Phil DiRe at the new establishment 189 Main in the summer. 

2014 Jazz Educator

KarenWinner: Karen Ragusa

Honorable Mention: Phil Aguglia

Karen Ragusa has been leading the jazz ensemble music program at Starpoint Middle School and High School.  In addition, Karen has taken over and kept going the Dick Griffo Jazz Workshop open to students and adults alike – in memory of the beloved jazz great Dick Griffo.  Phil Aguglia, is the band director at Kenmore East and is also one of 25 semi-finalists for the Grammy Music Educator Awards to be announced in February of this year.  The well-liked educator made the cut from 7,000 nominations throughout 50 states.

2014 Rising Star Jazz Artist

James benderWinner: James Benders

Honorable Mention:  Anthony Henry

Think bass and youth here.  James Bender, currently at Buff State, is a dynamic acoustic bass player.  Anthony Henry, a close second, is a force with the electric bass.  I am sure they are both equally adept on acoustic and electric.  These are exciting times in Buffalo with the stable of youth flowing into the jazz scene in Buffalo. 

2014 John Hunt Jazz Artist Of The Year

(The John Hunt Jazz Artist Of The Year Award recognizes the jazz artist for their overall contributions to the jazz community.  It is named after the late WBFO Music Director who raised Buffalo Jazz to a national presence during his tenure in the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s)

Bobby militelloWinner: Bobby Militello

Honorable Mention: George Caldwell, Phil Sims, Tim Clarke, and Walter Kemp III

Bobby Militello wins this category with 40% of the votes.  Deservingly, Bobby is known as Buffalo’s own ambassador of jazz throughout the world.  A rich legacy dating back to Maynard Ferguson to his 30 years with Dave Brubeck, Buffalo is certainly appreciative of having a world-class jazz artist in our own backyard.



John hunt militelloPictured to the right is Bobby Militello receiving a Buffalo Music Award from the late John Hunt.


All of the nominees deserve mention for their contributions to the jazz community. Included for your viewing are selected comments for each (over 200 comments were submitted), which speak volumes of their impact on the jazz community in Buffalo for 2014:

Bobby Militello

Bobby Militello is the face, heart & soul of the Buffalo-area jazz scene with both the music & the community stirring together within him, making music, which speaks across generations.

Bobby Militello plays with such ease and feeling. An absolute professional playing superbly across many genres of music

Played with Maynard Ferguson, Dave Brubeck. Great performer in big and small groups. Talented Flute, Alto and Sings too! None better in the list.

Bobby has the most unique tone and ability to combine sound and improvisational skills that elevate his artistry to the level of the jazz giants.

Bobby is a jazz legend whose mercurial talent is totally unique.

Because Bobby is Buffalo and he has been doing it for years all over world!

Bobby is what Buffalo Jazz is ……

No other musician on the list comes close to the historic jazz history of his 40 year career with the likes of Dave Brubeck, Maynard Ferguson and dozens more in every country in Europe and parts of Asia..

He has demonstrated worldwide appeal over the past 25 plus years and his talent is second to none. He is and has been a great ambassador for Buffalo over the years.

Militello is a multi-talented, world class musician. He never disappoints and his taste in music is unsurpassed. When you see that he is playing, your there!

Bobby's Legacy, credentials ( DAVE BRUBECK whoa!), enriching community contributions, and playing are all stellar and he remains as active as ever

Most versatile, technically and musically creative musician I know. Bobby Militello sets a bar that many other local musicians strive to achieve. He performs on more than one instrument (equally well), is a great arranger, sings equally as well as he plays, and is a respected personality both musically and personally. Even though he has an enviable professional history, he is still a humble and kind person. If he's the example most other musicians aspire to, then he deserves this award.

Walter Kemp III

Changing the canvas of the music world through building musical bridges, top musicianship, camaraderie and increased access to collaborative projects in WNY.

Contributions beyond performance

Walter's originality and love of the art form are evident in every performance.

He deserves it. Joining the board of the colored musicians club, assisting with Sunday jam nights, putting out great music, and raising a family and staying true to his craft. Great job.

Walter is a great pianist, solo duo, quartet, composer. he is doing an incredible job promoting spontaneous music at the cmc, pause, pine gri;; reunion , pappy matin's masten ave jazz fest, innumerable clubs and venues in buffalo and nyc. no one else is as omnipresent on the jazz scene as Walter. if jazz is happening water is there Walter is HAPPENING!

You see Walter everywhere. He's at every jam session, every show, helping push the younger players in the right direction, or spreading the word about who's going to be playing. Many people can play, but not many do the extra mile like Walter.

I vote for Walter Kemp not only as a performer and bandleader, but also as a leading force in the Buffalo music scene. In addition to his work at the Colored Musicians Club, Walter is a regular presence at all jazz events in Buffalo. He is an advocate for all that is high quality in the Buffalo music scene.

Phil Sims

Phil has been a tireless promoter, arranger and performer in the local jazz scene for many years and is greatly deserving of this recognition.

Phil advances the art of Jazz on so many levels — instrumentalist, composer, arranger; and is comfortable with so many jazz genres — hard bop, big band, vocal jazz, cabaret,swing/dixieland. He seems to be everywhere and doing everything jazz-wise, even while recovering from injury and surgery this past fall and early winter. A definite presence on the WNY jazz scene.

Because of his great and total devotion to the Art of Jazz. Phil Sims puts his heart and soul into each and every event he is a part of, or leading.

Phil Sims is a world class arranger and performer. Comparable to Al Hirt, Maynard Ferguson etc. We are lucky to have him live here in sunny Buffalo, New York.

Phil works in many groups and different types of jazz. Buffalo Brass, P.S. Quartet, backing 3 or 4 different singers, Traditional Jazz groups, R&B horn sections,,, He brings his knowledge and musicianship and a first class leadership to whom ever he is working with

Tim Clarke

Tim Clarke represents what true jazz should look and sound like. A true professional performer and one of the most enjoyable to listen to in all of Buffalo.

Tim Clarke is very versatile. He plays in many different types of groups and he just stands out.

This guy is a virtuoso on the trumpet and flugelhorn. Honestly, nobody comes close. His tone, dexterity, creativity, range, and variety of styles are amazing. Jazz trumpet is my favorite music, and I have plenty of CDs to prove it. Tim Clarke is right up there with the best of the professionals, past and present.

Best trumpeter I've ever heard; and—he performs in so many venues and ways.

Tim Clarke is the consummate musician, performing at the highest levels each and every time. No matter the situation, Tim has up-leveled any group he has played with. Brilliant solos that are not forced and truly mesmerize you. Tim is very deserving due to what he adds to each performance and his professionalism.

He is one of the most sensitive musicians I've heard. His solos are well crafted and are concerned more with tasteful playing instead of grandstanding.

Tim is proving himself to be an indispensable part of any number of bands in an impossibly diverse range of styles — from dixieland/trad to straight-ahead to free, Tim gets the call!

George Caldwell

George Caldwell is a great representative of Buffalo on the world jazz stage, and he brings world-class music back home to us in Buffalo, raising the level of the music for all of us.

George fits so perfectly into any and every situation that he encounters, regardless of the band, the style, etc., and the performances that have been heard only scratch the surface of his amazing talents. His stint as musical director for widely varied productions beyond the jazz realm only cement his place in the music community. Buffalo is blessed to have George Caldwell call this city "home."

George is the best jazz musician in Buffalo.

Wonderful musician and even better person!

Thank You!

We have successfully completed the first annual JazzBuffalo Reader’s and Fan Poll!  I wish to thank all those who took time to participate and contribute to enriching the Buffalo jazz community.   This proved to be a real people's choice effort.  The big winner of this poll are you the fans and appreciative audiences of jazz!  We hope, through this poll, you have become more aware of the tremendous amount of jazz talent in Buffalo available to you.

We will do it again.  And, as with anything worthwhile, we will look for ways to improve the poll.  All fans are encouraged to get out and see as many jazz artists as you can.  And, when we do it again, we will look forward to your nominations and your votes!

Keep Jazz Alive In WNY!!


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