Sunday, June 29, 2008

Guess the Downbeat Critics' Poll 2008!

Yeah, I know, I'm about four days late with this post. I apologize. It won't happen again; I missed a few days because of a little bit of general topsy-turvey-ness. As far as I'm concerned, though, this post was worth the wait. It's time for my first annual "Guess the Downbeat Critics' Poll" post! Here's how it works: I'm going to name a category, name who I believe the winner will be, and then give my personal pick for who should win the category. Occasionally, where necessary, I'll add some kind of ad hominem attack or random side note.

Jazz Artist: Herbie Hancock. Should Win: Herbie Hancock. Downbeat loves people who get major non-jazz awards; case in point: Ornette Coleman last year.
Jazz Album: Herbie Hancock's "River: The Joni Letters." Should Win: Vijay Iyer's "Tragicomic."
Hall of Fame: Herbie Hancock. Should Win: Lee Konitz.
Record Label: Blue Note. Should Win: Sunnyside. Or Pi. The former if we're going for volume of good albums, the latter if we're looking for a label that puts out few records, but records that are consistently brilliant.
Rising Star Jazz Artist: Vijay Iyer. Should Win: Always Vijay Iyer. Even though he's a legit star.
Jazz Group: Dave Holland Quintet. Should Win: Dave Holland Quintet.
Rising Star Jazz Group: This is tough. I'm going to go with Vijay Iyer's quartet, as neither of last year's winners have released new albums in a while. But there could be an upset from anybody from The Bad Plus to the Chris Potter Underground.
Big Band: Maria Schneider Orchestra.
Rising Star Big Band: No idea.
Composer: Maria Schneider. Should Win: Vijay Iyer, who will be relegated for another year to rising star.
Rising Star Composer: Vijay Iyer. Should Win: Anat Cohen. We need fresh blood in this category, even though I love Vijay Iyer to death.

Female Vocalist:
Dianne Reeves. Ugh. Should Win: Cassandra Wilson.
Rising Star F Vocalist: Gretchen Parlato. Should Win: Gretchen Parlato.
Male Vocalist: Kurt Elling Should Win: Who cares.
Rising Star M Vocalist: Somebody. Should Win: Somebody else, probably.

Alto Sax:
Ornette Coleman. Should Win: Ornette.
Rising Star Alto: Steve Lehman. Or maybe Jaleel Shaw. Or possibly Rudresh Mahanthappa. This is a really tough one, to be honest. All three have either released good albums or done good side-man work this year. But I can't pick one so I'll just throw Steve Lehman out there.
Tenor Sax: Sonny Rollins. Should Win: Chris Potter. Are you kidding me? Sonny Rollins wins every year in spite of his senility. Chris Potter had two killin' albums out last year and was involved in the making of countless others.
Rising Star T Sax: Chris Potter. Should Win: Anat Cohen.
Soprano Sax: Wayne. Should Win: Wayne.
Rising Star S Sax: Steve Wilson. Should Win: Chris Potter.
Baritone Sax: This is a tough one. It really depends on whether or not James Carter's "Present Tense" was heard by critics before votes were due. If it wasn't, this category belongs to Gary Smulyan. Should Win: Either one.
Clarinet: Don Byron. Should Win: Don Byron. Always.
Rising Star Clarinet: Anat Cohen. Should Win: Anat Cohen.
Flute: James Moody. Perhaps Frank Wess. Should Win: Nicole Mitchell, but she's too young.
Rising Star Flute: Nicole Mitchell. Should Win: Nicole Mitchell.

Trumpet: Dave Douglas. Should Win: Dave Douglas. Dave Douglas beat out Wynton by more than a hundred votes last time. Here's hoping the gap gets wider...
Rising Star Trumpet: Jeremy Pelt. Should Win: Steven Bernstein. Duh. I'm keeping my fingers crossed though, this is a tough category. Expect Avishai Cohen to move up in this category.
Trombone: Steve Turre. Should Win: I have no idea, but Steve Turre always wins.
Rising Star Trombone: Again, no idea. Should Win: Josh Roseman.

Acoustic Piano: Herbie Hancock. Should Win: Kenny Werner, who won't even make the list.
Rising Star Piano: Jason Moran, Robert Glasper, or Vijay Iyer. Should Win: Either Jason Moran, Robert Glasper, or Vijay Iyer.
Organ: I'm gonna go out on a limb and say Dr. Lonnie Smith. Should Win: Sam Yahel.
Rising Star Organ: Sam Yahel. Should Win: Uri Caine.
Keyboard: Uri Caine. Should Win: Uri Caine. I'm crossing my fingers, this is probably the only category in which a "rising star" type figure has a real shot at getting one of the major awards, as last time he came in second after Joe Zawinul, who is now dead.
Rising Star Keyboard" Craig Taborn. Should Win: Craig Taborn. Or Uri Caine. Either one.
Vibes: Bobby Hutcherson. Should Win: Gary Burton.
Rising Star Vibes: Stefon Harris, even though he isn't a rising star by any stretch. Should Win: Chris Dingman; his work on "Prelude: To Cora" by Ambrose Akinmusire and "On Meaning" by Steve Lehman was brilliant.

Drums: Roy Haynes or Jack DeJohnette.
Rising Star Drums: Another tough category. I'm going to say Matt Wilson, but it could go to anyone from Jef Ballard to Eric Harland to Nasheet Waits. Should Win: Eric Harland. But I love Matt Wilson.
Percussion: Poncho Sanchez.
Rising Star Percussion: Suzie Ibarra or Hamid Drake.

Guitar: Bill Frisell. Should Win: Bill Frisell. "History, Mystery" is one of the two best albums of the year.
Rising Star Guitar: Either Lionel Loueke or Kurt Rosenwinkel. Should Win: Liberty Ellman! Pick a real rising star, fer chrissake...
Bass: Dave Holland. Should Win: Dave Holland.
Rising Star Bass: Larry Grenadier. Should Win: Larry Grenadier, but Esperanza Spalding could come out of nowhere and win this category on the basis of "Esperanza" and a recent article in Downbeat.
Violin: Regina Carter. Should Win: Jenny Scheinman. I really hope Jenny Scheinman can pull this one off, both of her recent albums are gems.
Rising Star Violin: Jenny Scheinman.
Miscellaneous: Toots Thielemans. Should Win: This is a stupid category.
Rising Star Miscellaneous: Erik Friedlander.

So there you have it. When the August issue of Downbeat comes out (in the middle of July, of course) I'll tally up my guesses and see how many are right. For the time being, though, if you disagree, agree, or want to gossip, please feel free to comment.


Tim Niland said...

I agree completely about Vijay Iyer, between his solo work and music in Fieldwork, he is just extraordinarily original. Anat Cohen is great too, except sometimes I get hung up on how completely adorable she is and forget what a wonderful talent she is on saxophone and clarinet.

Dr. Jazz Ph.D. said...

This was a really entertaining post. Look for a response post on my blog in the next few hours. This is a worthy way to kill a few hours.

Dean said...

Glad I read this. Especially about the male jazz vocalists.