The second annual JazzBuffalo Readers and Fan Poll, recognizing the jazz artists and performers who entertain jazz audiences, collected 1,655 responses. Over a fifty percent increase from the previous year. A great sign that jazz awareness and appreciation is growing in Greater Buffalo!
The results of the poll are representative of the votes made by the readers of JazzBuffalo, the audiences who attended jazz performances, and the fans of jazz in the Greater Buffalo community. The names placed into nomination came from these same dedicated fans of jazz from a survey conducted in late December.
Before reading on, keep in mind you, you the audiences and fans of jazz, are the real winners. It allows for all fans to voice their appreciation and to become familiar with the abundance of jazz artists and jazz availability in the Greater Buffalo area. Jazz, in 2015, played an instrumental role in enriching communities throughout the area. And, playing a role in the continued resurgence of the city of Buffalo.
What follows are the winners of the second annual JazzBuffalo Reader’s and Fan Poll. This year, we will have honorable mentions for second place and some JazzBuffalo mentions also for third and fourth place. Congratulations to all the very deserving winners!
2015 Jazz Tenor Saxophone
Honorable Mention: Phil DiRe
This is a repeat outcome of last year. The beauty is you can see these two venerable jazz legends perform together on occasion. Dave Schiavone has garnered international recognition in his performing career.
2015 Jazz Alto Saxophone
Honorable Mention: Dave Schiavone
JazzBuffalo Mention: Jennie Jones and Kelly Bucheger
Bobby Militello reigns as the jazz alto sax legend in Buffalo. Dave Schiavone is a reed master in both tenor and alto. Jennie Jones is the musical director of the Ladies First Big Band and also with Jazzline. Kelly Bucheger is the founder of What Would Mingus Do? What a great group of alto sax players we have in Buffalo!
2015 Jazz Baritone Saxophone
Honorable Mention: Bruce Johnstone
Laura Anderson is a graduate of the Hartt School of Music and teacher in the Ken-Ton School District. Laura can be found playing for several big bands and studied with Dave Schiavone. Bruce Johnstone is a jazz legend in his own right and last year’s winner.
2015 Jazz Trumpet
Honorable Mention: Tim Clarke
JazzBuffalo Mention: Mark Filsinger
Joe Parisi enjoyed an incredible past year with his 2014 induction into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame. Joe has been a fixture in many of the big bands in the area such as Joe Baudo’s Big Band and the Pyramid Big Band. Throughout his career, he has performed with Sam Noto, Bobby Militello, Larry Covelli, and many international stars who have come through the area. A prominent award-winning educator throughout his career, he has come a long way since playing out his back bedroom window on the West Side of Buffalo (yes – I remember Joe!).
Both Tim Clarke and Mark Filsinger give the Greater Buffalo area top jazz performances in ensemble and combo bands.
2015 Jazz Trombone
Honorable Mention: Phil Sims
JazzBuffalo Mention: Dave DeWitt
John Hasselback, Jr. is a repeat winner in this category and can often be found performing with the likes of Phil DiRe and Dave Schiavone, in addition to his role as an educator.
2015 Jazz Guitar
Honorable Mention: Walt Sopicki
JazzBuffalo Mention: Drew Azzinaro and Mike Moser
Jared Tinkham is an up and coming creative force as a jazz guitarist. Playing along with a variety of jazz performers in the area, as well as, composing original compositions. A recent graduate of SUNY Buffalo State Music Program and now a teacher at Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts.
Walt Sopicki is having a break-out year with his new CD and trio formation after performing with David Kane’s Them Jazzbeards.
2015 Jazz Piano
Honorable Mention: Bobby Jones
JazzBuffalo Mention: Jim Bieshline
Lisa Hasselback has been one of the area’s most prominent pianist in the past two decades. She has performed with the likes of Bobby Militello, Dave Schiavone, Cindy Miller, Bruce Johnstone, and more. She has performed at the steps of the Albright-Know Art Gallery Summer Jazz Series, as well as, at the Lewiston Jazz Festival. She is also an educator in music for the Ken-Ton School district.
Bobby Jones, last year’s winner, has been one of the area’s legends. Only a handful of votes separated the two this year.
2015 Jazz Accompaniment
Honorable Mention: Carol McLaughlin – Flute
Bobby Militello, along with Carol McLaughlin, has added to the numerous performances the eloquent sound of the flute!
2015 Jazz Upright Bass
Honorable Mention: Danny Ziemann
JazzBuffalo Mention: Sabu Adeyola and Brian DeJesus
Wayne Moose has been one of the top bassists in the area for the past decade and a half. Noted for performing with many of the top jazz artists in Greater Buffalo. He has been leading the Williamsville East Jazz Ensemble for more than 10 years and is noted for creating the successful Legends of Jazz Series held annually at the school.
Although Danny Ziemann resides in Rochester, he can often be found performing in the area with a Who’s Who of jazz artists. In addition, Danny, an Eastman School of Music graduate, is invited to tour internationally with noted artists. Including Josh Groban this past year.
2015 Jazz Electric Bass
Honorable Mention: Jennifer May
JazzBuffalo Mention: Jerry Livingston and Jack Kulp
What a past year it has been for Zuri Appleby! As many know, she was selected by Nick Jonas to tour internationally and made appearances on some of the biggest stages in the entertainment business. But, don’t let that misguide you in missing Zuri’s prowess in playing jazz fusion and jazz R&B chops on the electric bass in addition to pop music. Check her out with Verse as they mix it up with jazz and R&B.
It is truly a ladies’ first affair in this category this year. Jennifer May is the founder of the Ladies First Big Band and a noted teacher of the electric bass to the young audiences of WNY. She also performs with Taylor Made Jazz.
2015 Jazz Vibes
Honorable Mention: Joanne Lorenzo
Alec Dube is an emerging jazz artist in the WNY community as a recent graduate of SUNY Fredonia and also now on the faculty there. Known for his versatility in percussion instruments and drums, as well as, original compositions.
Joanne Lorenzo, last year’s winner, continues to perform with Jazz Vibes and others noted jazz artists throughout Greater Buffalo.
2015 Jazz Drums
Honorable Mention: Louie Marino
John Bacon, Jr. is one of the premier drummers in the area and is a fixture with several bands, including the Bobby Militello Quartet. He also serves on the faculty of SUNY Fredonia.
Louie Marino has been the master teacher of drummers in this area for decades and continues to perform with the Joe Baudo Big Band.
2015 Jazz Female Vocalist
Honorable Mention: Cheryl Ferris
Janice Mitchell was the clear fan favorite on a list that included a fabulous cast of female jazz vocalists in Greater Buffalo. Janice has performed throughout the world as an original Raelette for Ray Charles and a backup singer to other giants in the entertainment industry such as Stevie Wonder. Making her roots in Greater Buffalo, you can see Janice performing with long-time collaborator Jim Bieshline where she continues to craft her jazz vocalist styling.
Cheryl Ferris can be found singing with the Joe Baudo Big Band as well as with the Frank Gerard/Ray Chamberlain Quartet. Cheryl has been performing for more than a decade in these settings and has certainly earned a loyal audience and fan base.
2015 Jazz Male Vocalist
Honorable Mention: Mark Weber
JazzBuffalo Mention: Anthony Re
Jack Civiletto has entertained many audiences throughout Greater Buffalo, specializing in bringing us the jazz standards a la Frank Sinatra.
Mark Weber is an up and coming singer in the area and is embracing recording. Anthony Re is part of the long list of the young rising stars emerging in the area.
2015 Jazz Group (Classic/Bebop/Hard Bop)
Honorable Mention: What Would Mingus Do?
JazzBuffalo Mention: Star People
The Bobby Militello Quartet featuring Bobby Militello, Jim Colemon, Bobby Jones, and John Bacon, Jr. has a loyal fan base and is a testament to the excellent jazz here in Buffalo.
What Would Mingus Do? – led by Kelly Bucheger – continues to shine as one of the premier groups doing original compositions.
Star People, led by George Caldwell, continues to explore the music of Miles Davis and each outing has been memorable.
2015 Jazz Group (Traditional)
Honorable Mention: The Fredtown Stompers
The Hot Club of Buffalo gives the Buffalo area one of the top gypsy jazz swing bands you will ever find.
The Fredtown Stompers are a group of young jazz artist going all the way back to the roots of jazz – New Orleans style Dixieland Jazz.
2015 Jazz Group (Jazz Fusion)
Honorable Mention: Winelight
Gruvology continues to evolve into one of the best original jazz and jazz fusion bands in Greater Buffalo. Coming off of a successful European tour in 2015, the band gives us stellar original compositions that bridge classic jazz with jazz fusion.
Winelight plays jazz fusion favorites, which include music by Herbie Hancock and more.
2015 Latin Jazz Group
Honorable Mention: Sol Y Sombra
Wendell Rivera provides top notch Latin Jazz while the Kevin Doyle led Sol Y Sombra brings the authentic sounds every Saturday at the Anchor Bar.
2015 Jazz Big Band
Honorable Mention: Joe Baudo Big Band
JazzBuffalo Mention: Ladies First Big Band
Mark Filsinger’s Eleventet Band burst onto the scene in 2015 with outstanding performances and arrangements. This is more of a little big band with 11 – but they pack the powerful punch of a bigger band. While the jazz stars in the band are impressive, the arrangements and conducting by Mark Filsinger is what shines.
Joe Baudo has created a haven for jazz on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons at the Sportsmen Tavern with his legendary big band.
Only 9 votes separated these three bands and the Ladies First Big Band, led by Jennifer May, is a collection of the best female jazz artists in Greater Buffalo.
2015 Jazz Infused Soul, Retro, R&B, Funk
Honorable Mention: Taylor Made Jazz
JazzBuffalo Mention: Blue Stone Groove
Here is where the original compositions of Gruvology, once again, bridges classic jazz with infused sounds of funk and soul.
Taylor Made Jazz, led by Van Taylor, has been wowing audiences for nearly 30 years with their brand of jazz-infused soul and R&B. This award-winning band continues to give to the community, including entertaining veterans.
Blue Stone Groove popped onto the scene in 2015 – 2015. A unique brand of young jazz musicians doing unique arrangements on jazz and R&B songs.
2015 Jazz Venue
Honorable Mention: Sportsmen Tavern
JazzBuffalo Mention: Historic Colored Musicians Club
PAUSA Art House has fast become a valued artistic, music, and cultural center in the Allentown district of Buffalo. Creating much-needed opportunities for jazz performances audiences can enjoy.
While the frequency of jazz at Sportsmen Tavern is sporadic, when there is jazz – it is clearly memorable. And it is the home of Tuesday and Wednesday Lunch Jazz.
The Historic Colored Musicians Club is one of Buffalo’s cultural icons that helps define who we are as a community and continues to deliver excellent jazz.
2015 Most Memorable Jazz Performance
Honorable Mention: George Scott Big Band – Fourth of July Canalside
JazzBuffalo Mention: A Tribute to John Coltrane Featuring The Herbie Small Quartet
There were many memorable performances this past year but one group stood out in the poll – Mark Filsinger’s Eleventet clearly won over the audiences and fans of jazz with two very memorable performances in 2015.
Over the years, the George Scott Big Band has delivered some of the best performances at our civic celebrations.
Only one vote separated the Tribute to John Coltrane from the George Scott Big Band. The Herbie Small Quartet delivered a knock-out concert that evening at the Burchfield Penney Museum to go along with a remarkable film on Coltrane.
2015 Most Memorable National/International Jazz Concert
Honorable Mention: David Sanborn at Buffalo State Performing Arts Center
The three concerts given by jazz vocalist Paul Marinaro in the last weekend of August will be remembered for ages. Paul, a native of Buffalo, has been making his mark in Chicago and nationally. This event marked his homecoming 12 years later and was the last time his Dad was able to see him perform before his passing this past December.
The Honorable Mention David Sanborn concert shows his fans are counting this as one of his most stand-out concerts in years.
2015 Jazz CD Release
Honorable Mention: Walt Sopicki – Trios B3X3
Michael McNeil, recently relocated to Austin, TX, made his mark as one of Buffalo’s finest pianists. And, delivered an acclaimed CD as a gift to us all.
Walt Sopicki taps into Buffalo’s tradition as a B3 Hammond epicenter with the likes of Joey DeFrancesco and Bobby Jones on this CD.
2015 Jazz Educator
Honorable Mention: Wayne Moose
Only three votes separated these two. Each are at the top of the list when it comes to jazz education in the Greater Buffalo area.
2015 Rising Star Jazz Artist
Honorable Mention: Elliott Scozzaro
JazzBuffalo Mention: Matt Harris
This category represented the fantastic group of rising jazz stars here in Buffalo. Ellen Pieroni has established herself as an alto saxophonist, band leader, member of Blue Stone Groove, and organizer.
Elliott Scozzaro studies out of state but when he is back home, he shows us remarkable progress each time as he is mastering his craft.
Matt Harris is proving himself to be one of our superb tenor saxophone performers we are lucky to have in the area and recently performed with Mark Filsinger’s Eleventet.
2015 John Hunt Jazz Artist of the Year
Honorable Mention: Wayne Moose
It is a pleasure to recognize John Bacon, Jr. for this award. He has given countless years to the jazz community here in Buffalo as a performer, educator, composer, supporter, and helping to provide visible leadership. In 2015, he once again was a factor in enriching the jazz community. Performing with a variety of jazz bands – from classic bebop to free jazz, writing, composing, leading the SUNY Fredonia Latin Jazz Band, volunteering, and doing so with class leadership.
Wayne Moose as an educator and frequent performer continues to impact not only the lives of his students but also enriches the jazz community with the Legends of Jazz Series and the Wednesday Night Jazz Series. Another of the area's fine contributors to the jazz community.
Below are just some of the many comments John Bacon, Jr. received from poll-takers on why they voted for him:
I love John's drumming. I think it takes a lot for a drummer to hold an audience's attention.
These are ALL great choices — I'm going with Bacon because he's a complete musician with masterly across a wide range of jazz genres, is an excellent educator, etc. A serious asset on the local scene…
There is no finer overall musician in the area than John Bacon, across so many elements of this broad genre, and on varied instruments. His huge ears, amazing skill, and dedication to the music is unequalled.
John is a great performer, educator and teacher. I have seen him work with both high school and college students and John relates extremely well to both ability levels.
John Bacon was the most enthusiastic professor I had while attending school at Villa Maria. Despite his doctoral level of education in music, he treated his students as equals so that may learn from each other in performance. I've seen him open the minds of many young players, including myself, and ask for nothing but our best effort in return. His etiquette and musicianship stands out over every professional I've encountered throughout my career.
John is what Jazz is today. John has his energy in all aspects of Jazz and what it is today. Top of the class.
John Bacon Jr. puts all of himself Into his work, and is an incredible Educator and great to work with.
He is an incredible musician who can play any style in virtuoso fashion. He is an educator and he is a wonderful example of what living music is. He has devoted his life to jazz and bringing the beauty and creativity of the genre to not only our community, but to the world.
Because John is actively involved in multiple jazz projects and fluidly transitions to any band situation. He' s the best jazz drummer in town.
John Bacon is a wealth of knowledge. Truly one of Buffalo's best.
John Bacon is one of the most talented, passionate, and exciting jazz artists I've ever worked with. His dedication to his craft is unparalleled!
Congratulations to John Bacon, Jr. for being named the 2015 John Hunt Jazz Artist Of The Year!
2015 Was A Great Year!
There is no question 2015 was a great year for jazz in the Greater Buffalo area. With the rising stable of young jazz performers and the abundance of talent, we have, jazz in 2016 will be even greater. This creates tremendous opportunities for you, the audiences and fans of jazz, to enjoy this truly Amercian art form. The winners named in each category, I am sure, are dedicated to providing the best in entertainment and musicianship for audiences to enjoy.
The future of jazz enriching the quality of life and culture of Buffalo bodes very well. Congratulations to all the winners and mentions. And, congratulations to the biggest winners of this poll – the audiences and fans of jazz!
Keep Jazz Alive in WNY!!!