Announcing The Winners Of The 9th Annual JazzBuffalo Poll


JazzBuffalo Community and Jazz Fans Share Their Favorites of 2023

JazzBuffalo is excited to reveal the outcomes of its 9th Annual JazzBuffalo Poll. With over 1700 submitted ballots across 36 categories, the poll has provided a platform for jazz enthusiasts, audiences, and readers to express their preferences for favorite jazz artists, groups, performances, and supporters.

(A quick reminder, this poll is not a Critic’s Poll where we determine the “Best” involving a panel, but rather a “Readers and Fans” poll where we recognize the people’s choice as their “Favorite.” Nominees come directly from the people and winners and runner-ups as “Favorite” are determined by popular vote.)

2023 brought a vibrant wave of jazz experiences for all to enjoy. From free accessible jazz performances to the return of cherished events, it provided a wealth of memorable concerts and musician performances, especially notable in the JazzBuffalo Poll.

Annually, the John Hunt Jazz Artist of the Year Award recognizes an individual for their substantial contributions to jazz in Greater Buffalo, encompassing exceptional performances, artistic achievements, and community contributions. This year’s award, determined by popular vote, is given to the highly deserving Elliot Scozzaro. Elliott, also acknowledged as the Rising Star of the Year continues to make significant contributions to various projects, including his own.

Photo of Elliot Scozzaro by JazzBuffalo Contributor, Jack Zuff

We are delighted to announce that Lázara Martinez has been recognized as the Jazz Crusader of the Year, awarded to her by popular vote. Lazara’s dedication to championing jazz at Pausa Art House has been a substantial and invaluable contribution to the vibrant jazz community in Buffalo.

The Jay/Sharp-tet Group emerged as the crowd favorite, securing the title of Jazz (Standards) Group of the Year through the highest number of popular votes. In the Jazz Big Band of the Year category, the Easy Street Big Band claimed the top spot. At the same time, the big band’s remarkable vocalist Molly Colton earned the runner-up position in the Jazz Female Vocalist of the Year, with the reigning favorite, Alex McArthur, once again dazzling as the repeat winner.

Carolyn Lansom with My Cousin Toné at Northwest Jazz Festival in Lewiston, NY. Photo by JazzBuffalo Contributor Jack Zuff.

My Cousin Toné, riding the wave of its immensely popular JazzMonday at Tappo Rooftop Patio and appearance at the Northwest Jazz Festival in Lewiston, NY, secured the top spot with the highest number of votes, earning them the title of Jazz Large Ensemble of the Year. At the Northwest Jazz Festival in Lewiston, NY, which drew one of the largest crowds in its history, the standout performance by My Cousin Toné featuring Carolyn Lansom claimed the top spot for the 2023 Most Memorable Jazz Performance of the Year, surpassing last year’s winner, The Ed Croft Trio: A Charlie Brown Christmas.

In an interesting twist, we observed a tie after counting all the votes. The Dave Hill Group and Organ Fairchild both claimed the most popular votes in the Jazz Infused Soul, Funk, Smooth, or R&B Group of the Year category. Lastly, we want to acknowledge several repeat winners, including Tim Clarke, Dave Schiavone, The Hot Club of Buffalo, John Bacon, Jr., Alec Dube, Wendell Rivera, Buffalo Dolls, and Laura Anderson.

Perrenial JazzBuffalo Poll Winners – The Hot Club of Buffalo

“The JazzBuffalo Poll gives audiences, jazz fans, and the community a real voice in recognizing their favorites each year,” said Tony Zambito, the founder and Executive Director of JazzBuffalo. “The engaging participation in the poll is indicative of how jazz in Buffalo has evolved into a vibrant community that truly enriches Buffalo’s arts and culture.”

Below is the complete list of favorites and runner-ups in the 36 categories of the 9th Annual JazzBuffalo Poll:

The 9th Annual JazzBuffalo Poll Winners

Jazz Tenor Saxophone – Dave Schiavone

Runner-up: Nelson Rivera

Jazz Alto Saxophone – Elliot Scozzaro

Runner up: Dave Schiavone

Jazz Baritone Saxophone – Laura Anderson

Runner-up: Harry Fackelman

Jazz Trumpet – Tim Clarke

Runner up: Griffith “Kaz” Kazmierczak

Jazz Trombone – Brendan Lanighan

Runner up: John Hasselback, Jr.

Jazz Guitar – Stu Weissman

Runner up: Jared Tinkham

Jazz Piano –  Lisa Hasselback

Runner up: George Caldwell

Jazz Organ – Doug “Trigger” Gaston

Runner up: Joe Baudo

Jazz Accompaniment – Elliot Scozzaro – Flute

Runner up: E.J. Koeppel – Violin

Jazz Upright Bass – Ed Croft

Runner up: Nathan Kalnitz

Jazz Electric Bass – Nathan Kalnitz

Runner up: Ed Croft

Jazz Vibes – Alec Dube

Runner up: Jamie Sunshine

Jazz Drums – John Bacon, Jr.

Runner up: Damone A-Miracale Jackson’

Jazz Percussion – Wendell Rivera

Runner up: Jamie Sunshine

Jazz Female Vocalist – Alex McArthur

Runner up: Molly Colton

Jazz Male Vocalist – Jack Civiletto

Runner up: Dalton Sharp

Jazz Classic Standard Group – The Jay Sharp-tet

Runner up: John Bacon Quintet

Jazz World – Hot Club of Buffalo

Runner up: Buffalo Tango Orchestra

Jazz Trad/NOLA/Swing – Brass Machine

Runner up: Morgan Street Stompers

Jazz Fusion – Damone Jackson Outcome

Runner up: Ellen Pieroni’s Encyclopedia of Soul

Latin Jazz – Wendell Rivera Latin Jazz Ensemble

Runner up: Sol Y Sambra

Jazz Big Band – Easy Street Big Band

Runner up: Ladies First Jazz Big Band

Jazz Large Ensemble – My Cousin Toné

Runner up: Ladies First Jazz Combo

Jazz Soul/Funk – Tie: The Dave Hill Group and Organ Fairchild

Runner up: Carina & The Six String Preacher

Jazz Pop and Retro – Buffalo Dolls

Runner up: Miller and The Other Sinners

Jazz Venue – Pausa Art House

Runner up: Sportsmen Tavern

Jazz Major Performing Arts Center – Kleinhans Music Hall

Runner up: Buffalo AKG Art Museum Auditorium

Most Memorable Jazz Performance  – My Cousin Toné w/Carolyn Lansom – Northwest Jazz Festival in Lewiston, NY

Runner up: Ed Croft Trio “A Charlie Brown Christmas” – Seneca One Auditorium

Most Memorable International Jazz Performance – Pat Metheny Solo – UB Center for Performing Arts

Runner up: Both Sides of Joni – A Jazz Tribute to Joni Mitchell – Seneca One

Jazz CD/EP Release – Brendan Lanighan Octet – “A Little Optimism”

Runner up: John Bacon Quintet – “Revolution Blues”

Middle School/High School Educator – Phil Aguglia

Runner up: John Hasselback, Jr.

College/University Educator – John Bacon, Jr.

Runner up: George Caldwell

Jazz Rising Star – Elliot Scozzaro

Runner up: Alex McArthur

Jazz Ex-Pat – Stephen Parisi

Runner up: Don Menza

Jazz Crusader – Lázara Martinez  – Pausa Art House

Runner up: Jack Zuff – Photographer / JazzBuffalo Contributor

John Hunt Jazz Artist of the Year – Elliot Scozzaro

Runner up: George Caldwell

Comments From The JazzBuffalo Community

Each year, our wonderful jazz community shares heartfelt comments about the individuals they voted for in the JazzBuffalo Poll. Here’s a compilation of some of these warm messages:

Elliot Scozzaro – John Hunt Jazz Artist of the Year

I am a student of Elliot Scozzaro and let me tell you, this man has so much on his plate yet handles everything he does with grace and care. His tenacity in music and his continuous dedication and passion to the art form is something I strive for. He deserves it. (No he did not put me up to this).

Elliot encompasses all aspects of jazz. Outstanding performer, soloist, ensemble member, collaborates with and promotes multiple artists, educator etc…

Elliot Scozzaro is one of the best educatiors, players, and most reliable saxophonist I have worked with, learned with, and listened to.

Elliot has been very active in promoting and teaching jazz in the WNY area. He not only teaches at both SUNY Buffalo State and SUNY Fredonia, he also tours with Al Stewart &The Empty Pockets, and Louis Prima Jr. He composes, arranges, and then performs on sax and flute all over WNY. Elliot Scozzaro is our future! Bravo!

Other Comments

Alex McArthur continues to evolve and work her behind off! She’s the total package!

Alex continues to hone her vocal and genre diversity and we are privileged to witness and enjoy her!

George Caldwell represents the best of a Jazz musician…improvisational, multi-dimensional, flexible, accommodating, supportive, committed, informed…all while maintaining a cool attitude and exuding a friendly personality!

Kathy Calderella has been performing for over 40 years! She is a true professional with an outstanding voice and stage presence!!

Ed Croft is versatile, adventurous, and experienced.

Ed Croft is one of the hardest-working jazz musicians in Buffalo. Every year he shows his commitment to making the JazzBuffalo scene one of inclusion, respect, and talent.

Chris Hooton, trumpet-great range, power, intonation, and nuance. Sounds like Maynard Ferguson.

Molly Colton – Jazz Female Vocalist Molly’s vocal range and stage presence are outstanding. She is able to sing many types of genres/styles and do so effortlessly. She is truly a gifted singer and professional.

Molly Colton has a voice of an angel. In a league of her own when it comes to Jazz.

Love Molly Mattiuzzo Colton’s beautiful voice. Yes, totally voted for Molly. She is one Awesome n God given talented lady.

Dave Hill crashed the seen in Buffalo from Los Angeles in 2020 without knowing anyone in the music biz and quickly made a name for himself by just going out and playing…You can see the joy he gets from playing every single time he’s on stage whether he’s fronting a band or just backing them up. He’s a joy to watch!

Griffin Brady- he does so much not only for his community but for those in other countries. He’s so passionate about percussion he even opened his own dojo this fall! Awesome dude

I voted for Joey Gonzalez, known him since he was born God given gift to his family and the world . Part of the first Latin band in the Buffalo public schools,since a young age has bless the Buffalo community and the church faith community in his amazing talent.

Kevin Hall is my favorite Saxophonist in the Buffalo area now!

Voted for Kevin Hall a very very good saxophone player who gives a great performance each and every time

Colin Brydalski is an incredibly talented musician. He plays in multiple bands and dedicates nearly all of his time outside of work to his music. He’s a cool dude and deserves some recognition!

2 thoughts on “Announcing The Winners Of The 9th Annual JazzBuffalo Poll

  1. On behalf of Dr. George Scott and the George Scott Big Band congratulation to all the winners and runner-up. Always great to see all the wonderful musical talent here in Buffalo, New York. Enjoy your 2024 gigs and try to support each other when you can!!!

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