Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Critics Poll 2008: Tally and Grievances!

There were some major upsets in this year's Critics Poll; upsets that nobody could have seen coming in a billion years. Upsets so insane, so absolutely inconcievable (Bela Fleck beating Toots Thielemans for Miscellaneous Instrument?!), that not even I had the faintest idea that they could even occur.

Alright, so I didn't get everything right. By any stretch. But I did get enough right that this blog should from now on be your guide to the annual Downbeat Critics Poll. Here's the final tally:

Will Win: 27/50
Should Win: 19/50

So out of the fifty categories, I got 27 absolutely right, although I suppose it was more like 28 with an asterisk (*while I didn't actually say that Esperanza Spalding would win Rising Star Bass, you read a prediction of her meteoric rise right here at the jazz monster). The more fun part is pointing out the major upsets anyway. First off, the pleasant surprises: Cassandra Wilson won the female vocal poll! There could be hope for jazz after all if she dethroned Dianne Reeves. Also, props to Josh Roseman, my pick for the should-be-winner of the Poll who actually won in spite of the fact that I was too lazy to actually pick him as the actual winner. Also, Eric Harland deserves anything he gets, and I'm not surprised at his win even though I called it for Matt Wilson.

And that's about it for the pleasant surprises. Come on! Vijay Iyer won nothing this year, in spite of his releasing the both the brilliant "Tragicomic," the game-changing "Still Life With Commentator" and the absolutely killin' "Door" over the course of the year. That said, though, John Hollenbeck deserved his wins even though I wouldn't have predicted them. As for guitar, Pat Metheny somehow managed to weasel his way into the number one spot over the better choice, Bill Frisell. The biggest upset, however, was the aforementioned win by Bela Fleck over Toots Thielemans for Miscellaneous Instrument by an absurdly wide margin (128 to Toots' 97). This is the first time in something like 20 years that Thielemans hasn't won. Uh, what?

There is only one decision that actually has me seething though, and I mean it from the absolute bottom of my heart when I say that Miguel Zenon does not deserve to be on the "Rising Star Alto" list, let alone that he deserves to beat out all three of my picks for the category. Come on, do downbeat critics actually think that Miguel Zenon is a better or more interesting player than Steve Lehman? Than Rudresh Mahanthappa? Give me a break. Miguel Zenon's playing is reminiscent of Ynwie Malmstein as covered by David Sanborn at his most melodramatic.

That's it for this year's Critics Poll; I didn't do that badly. Congratulations to (most of) the winners. Next time I'll have a review of "Essen," the killer new album by Paul Shapiro, who has not and probably will not make the Downbeat Critics Poll tenor saxophone list, ever.

No comments: