2020 Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Awards Winners Announced

(Note: JazzBuffalo is a voting member of the Jazz Journalists Association)

Voting members of the Jazz Journalists Association cast their votes recently in 39 categories recognizing excellence in jazz music and jazz journalism. The association announced the winners for all categories today. Additionally, recognition was given to the influential composer, arranger, and pianist Carla Bley. Bley is awarded the 2020 JJA Jazz Award for Lifetime Achievement in Jazz.

Stanley Crouch, author, essayist, novelist, advisor to Jazz at Lincoln Center, and president of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, is the winner of Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Journalism.

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 Winners were listed on the Jazz Journalists Association website. See winners of all 39 categories of awards at JJAJazzAwards.org.

This year’s Awards for instrumentalists advance a multi-year trend by the JJA’s voting members to recognize accomplished women among the multiple nominated finalists. For the first time, women won half the instrumentalists’ categories.

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Winners included drummer and educator Terri Lyne Carrington (Musician of the Year), pianist-composer Kris Davis (Composer and Pianist of the Year), saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin (Up & Coming Musician of the Year), drummer-composer Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom (for Mid-Size Ensemble of the Year), baritone saxophonist Lauren Sevian and harpist Brandee Younger (Player of Instruments Rare in Jazz), and several other women were voted Best of the Year for their achievements in 2019.

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The 8-time Grammy nominee Miguel Zenón won Arranger of the Year and Alto Saxophonist of the year, Branford Marsalis’ quartet won Record of the Year for The Secret Between the Shadow and the SoulChristian Scott aTundé Adjuah was named Trumpeter of the Year and Joel Ross was Mallet Player of the Year, both for the first time. 

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In the jazz journalism categories, Mark Stryker’s Jazz From Detroit (University of Michigan Press) was voted Best Book About Jazz, San Francisco Bay Area radio show host Richard Hadlock and New York-based photographer Richard Conde won, respectively, the Marian McPartland-Willis Conover Award for Lifetime Achievement in Broadcasting, and the Lona Foote-Bob Parent Award for Lifetime Achievement in Photography.

“The JJA is pleased to congratulate these winners, and indeed all the musicians nominated in our two-stage voting process,” said Howard Mandel, president of the JJA. “Especially with listeners largely confined to home, it’s important to let artists know they’re being heard, and to advise music fans about the best current jazz creativity, as jazz journalists do.”

The Jazz Awards, initiated in 1996, had presented winners of JJA Jazz Awards with engraved statuettes before audiences at summer performances. This year’s winners will receive hand-printed scrolls certifying their Awards in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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