Jazz Journalists Association Announces Jazz Awards

Veteran saxophonist Wayne Shorter, longtime creative music trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, and newcomer Ryan Truesdell were top winners of the 2013 Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Awards announced today online at their website.

Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter, who emerged in the 1960s as a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and Miles Davis’ “second great quintet” besides his own classic albums on Blue Note Records and long collaboration in Weather Report, won the Award for Lifetime Achievement in Jazz and for Soprano Saxophonist of the Year. The Wayne Shorter Quartet featuring pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade was named Best Small Ensemble.

Wadada Leo Smith

Wadada Leo Smith, born in Arkansas, steeped in the blues but also an early member of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and now a professor at California Institute for the Arts, was named Jazz Musician of the Year and Trumpeter of the Year, partly in recognition of his acclaimed album Ten Freedom Summers.

Ryan Truesdell

The award for Best Record of the Year went to Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans, the debut album of bandleader Ryan Truesdell. Ryan Truesdell’s Gil Evans Project was named Best Large Ensemble of the Year.

Sonny Rollins was named “Emeritus Jazz Artist – Beyond Voting,” and other winners were divided between familiar names and new ones, although consistency with past results was more frequent than turnover of Awards to new nominees.

A full list of the winners of music categories in the 17th annual Awards voted for by the JJA, a non-profit professional organization of writers, photographers, broadcasters and new media producers, is available at the JJA website. Winners of the JJA’s Jazz Awards for excellence in journalism will be announced at a ticketed event to be held at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City on June 19.

The JJA, with some 300 members mostly in North America but scattered across Europe, Asia, South America and New Zealand, too, has a mission to sustain journalism about jazz and related musics in a media landscape that currently includes both traditional and newly emergent platforms — blogs, websites, self-produced videos, podcasts, social media and the like.

The Association’s recent JazzApril campaign in support of Jazz Appreciation Month and International Jazz Day comprised, among other facets, the establishment of a 60-member Media Network and the celebration of 26 community-designated “Jazz Heroes” in 24 U.S. cities and Ottawa, Canada.

Winners of the JJA Jazz Awards for music and journalism are determined through a two-stage voting process, limited to the Association’s professional members. The JJA also has non-voting “supporter” and “industry associate” members, and a small group of non-voting student members. For further information about the Jazz Journalists Association, go to this website or contact JJA president Howard Mandel (President@JazzJournalists.org).