Downbeat Announce 68th Annual Critic’s Poll Winners

The 68th Annual Downbeat Critic’s Poll was announced on July 6 and one of the big winners was bandleader, drummer, a civil advocate Terri Lynne Carrington. Carrington made history by becoming the first female instrumentalist to win the prestigious Jazz Artist of the year category. Additionally, her recent album release, Waiting Game, received the most votes for the Best Jazz Album.

“As a musician, producer, educator and activist, Terri Lyne Carrington is an amazing force in the jazz community,” said DownBeat Editor Bobby Reed. “Her skills as a bandleader are evidenced not only by the incredible music on ‘Waiting Game,’ but also by the many accolades she has received. We are proud to present her with three DownBeat Critics Poll awards to add to her growing collection of honors.”

Jazz: Composer Maria Schneider on working with Bowie: "He let out ...
Maria Schneider

Maria Schneider received the most votes in the Composer and Arranger categories, as well as the Big Band category, for her award-winning Maria Schneider Orchestra. Reedist Shabaka Hutchings topped the category Rising Star–Jazz Artist, and his band Shabaka and the Ancestors topped the category Rising Star–Jazz Group. Makaya McCraven won the categories Rising Star–Drums and Rising Star–Producer.

Cécile McLorin Salvant, once again, was voted top Female Vocalist while her counterpart Gregory Porter received the most votes for Male Vocalist. Veronica Swift took the honors for top Rising Star-Female Vocalist with Sara Gazerek second. Nick Finzer (trombonist, composer, and arranger) received the most votes for Rising Star-Trombone.

Nick Finzer Sextet @ Smalls Jazz Club, NYC, Mar 22 — JazzTrail ...
Nick Finzer

Other notable winners include Charles Lloyd for Tenor Saxophone, Joey DeFrancesco for Organ, Stefon Harris for Vibraphone, and Kenny Barron tied with Kris Davis for Piano. Winner for Rising Star-Piano is Aaron Diehl.

The Historical Album of the Year went to John Coltrane’s Blue World. The album highlighted 27 minutes of previously unheard music. Recorded in 1964, the album features bassist Jimmy Garrison, drummer Elvin Jones, and pianist McCoy Tyner, who died March 6 at age 81.

Named to the Hall of Fame was the late saxophonist, Jimmy Heath, who died in January of this year.

The August issue of DownBeat includes the full results of the poll, along with features on poll winners Ambrose Akinmusire (Trumpet), Joey DeFrancesco (Organ), Steve Swallow (Electric Bass) and others. A complete list of winners is below.

This year’s winners are listed below.

2020 DownBeat Critics Poll

Hall of Fame: Jimmy Heath

Hall of Fame: Carmen McRae

Hall of Fame: Mildred Bailey

Jazz Artist:Terri Lyne Carrington

Jazz Album: Terri Lyne Carrington & Social Science, Waiting Game (Motéma)

Historical Album:John Coltrane, Blue World (Impulse)

Jazz Group:Terri Lyne Carrington & Social Science

Big Band:Maria Schneider Orchestra

Trumpet:Ambrose Akinmusire

Trombone:Wycliffe Gordon

Soprano Saxophone:Jane Ira Bloom

Alto Saxophone: Rudresh Mahanthappa

Tenor Saxophone: Charles Lloyd

Baritone Saxophone:James Carter

Clarinet:Anat Cohen

Flute:Nicole Mitchell

Piano: Kenny Barron and Kris Davis (TIE)

Keyboard:Herbie Hancock

Organ:Joey DeFrancesco

Guitar:Mary Halvorson

Bass: Christian McBride

Electric Bass:Steve Swallow

Violin: Regina Carter

Drums:Brian Blade

Percussion: Zakir Hussain

Vibraphone:Stefon Harris

Miscellaneous Instrument:Tomeka Reid (cello)

Female Vocalist: Cécile McLorin Salvant

Male Vocalist:Gregory Porter

Composer:Maria Schneider

Arranger:Maria Schneider

Record Label:ECM

Producer:Manfred Eicher

Blues Artist or Group: Gary Clark Jr.

Blues Album:Robert Cray, That’s What I Heard (Nozzle/Thirty Tigers)

Beyond Artist or Group: Dr. John

Beyond Album:Bill Frisell, Harmony (Blue Note)

Rising Star Categories

Rising Star–Jazz Artist: Shabaka Hutchings

Rising Star–Jazz Group:Shabaka & The Ancestors

Rising Star–Big Band: Ralph Peterson’s Gen-Next Big Band

Rising Star–Trumpet: Jaimie Branch

Rising Star–Trombone: Nick Finzer

Rising Star–Soprano Saxophone: Yuval Cohen

Rising Star–Alto Saxophone: Lakecia Benjamin

Rising Star–Tenor Saxophone: James Brandon Lewis

Rising Star–Baritone Saxophone: Josh Sinton

Rising Star–Clarinet: Aurora Nealand

Rising Star–Flute: Anna Webber

Rising Star–Piano: Aaron Diehl

Rising Star–Keyboard: Zaccai Curtis

Rising Star–Organ: Akiko Tsuruga

Rising Star–Guitar: Lage Lund

Rising Star–Bass: Ben Street

Rising Star–Electric Bass: Tal Wilkenfeld

Rising Star–Violin: Sarah Bernstein

Rising Star–Drums: Makaya McCraven

Rising Star–Percussion: Chad Taylor

Rising Star–Vibraphone: Sasha Berliner

Rising Star–Miscellaneous Instrument: Brandee Younger (harp)

Rising Star–Female Vocalist: Veronica Swift

Rising Star–Male Vocalist: Leslie Odom Jr.

Rising Star–Composer: JD Allen

Rising Star–Arranger: Sullivan Fortner

Rising Star–Producer: Makaya McCraven

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