There’s a lot of excellence represented by 187 nominees in 41 categories of achievement in music-making and music documentation — the JJA being the only organization (since ASCAP decided it couldn’t afford to give any more Deems Taylor Awards) to recognize the efforts of scribes, photogs, deejays, bloggers, websites, periodicals and book authors as well as jazz legends, newbies, instrumentalists, composers, ensembles and recordings. The JJA comprising some 400 media-savvy ultrahipsters (60 of whom filed nominating ballots), this is a much more detailed and refined list than the Grammys put forth. And jazz awards don’t rate the Grammy’s spotlight. The JJA, on the other hand, holds a gala presentation event and reception (with Brother Thelonious Belgian Ale, the beer that gives to jazz education) this year at City Winery, NYC, in the third week of June (a last minute snafu has put the exact date in question; watch this space for news updates).
Here are clips of four multiply-nominated finalists, whose appearance below does not constitute my vote or singular endorsement . . . but I do like them all.
Darcy James Argue is up for Composer of the Year, Arranger of the Year, Large Ensemble of the Year (his Secret Society), Record of the Year for Secret Society’s Infernal Machines, his first ever release — and so, not surprisingly, Up & Coming Artist of the Year. Darcy maintains an jnteresting website, too.
Henry Threadgill, of whom I’ve written a bit, is nominated as Musician of the Year, Composer of the Year, for Record of the Year (This Brings Us To, Vol. 1) and Small Ensemble of the Year (his quintet Zooid). What’s below ain’t Zooid, but I can’t resist the clip of his never-commercially-recorded Society Situation Dance Band (from ’88) with solos by the late John Stubblefield on soprano sax and Charles Burnham in the violin section next to the late Leroy Jenkins —
Steve Lehman, improviser and composer, has been nominated for Composer of the Year, Alto Saxophonist of the Year, and Record of the Year for Travail, Transformation and Flow, which explores at length the “spectral harmony” he mentions in this clip:
Vijay Iyer, pianist and conceptualist, has a breakthrough album in Historicity, nominated as Record of the Year and lifting him to consideration as Musician of the Year, Composer of the Year, Pianist of the Year and Small Ensemble of the Year for his trio, seen below in their studio session —
Just a touch of the talent the Jazz Journalists Association’s members have been digging — go to the ballot for more new music from now. And please weigh in on whether these Awards are any more esoteric than the Pulitzers for Music, Drama, Fiction, Poetry or Music (dig, though, the special citation for Hank Williams, who died in 1953 but so lives on).