Vijay Iyer Tops 2017 NPR Jazz Critics Poll

Congrats to pianist-composer Vijay Iyer, who again tops the NPR Jazz Critics Poll, a carryover from the old Village Voice Jazz Critics Poll. The Vijay Iyer Sextet’s “Far From Over” is named best new album, followed in that category by releases from alto saxophonist Steve Coleman, drummer Tyshawn Sorey, pianist Craig Taborn and flutist Nicole Mitchell.

I was honored to again be among the 137 jazz writers around the globe asked to participate. Only one of my Top 10 picks, Taborn’s “Daylight Ghosts” (ECM) made it into the poll’s final 10, and another, the debut from supergroup Hudson (Jack DeJohnette/John Scofield/John Medeski/Larry Grenadier) made the final 20.

I agree with the consensus on Cecile McLorin Salvant‘s “Dreams and Daggers” (Mack Avenue) for best vocal album, and my 3 picks for reissues/ historical, by Jaco Pastorius, Wes Montgomery/Wynton Kelly Trio, and Monk, are in the final Top 5 in that category in the poll.

Also in the poll:

  • Jaimie Branch‘s “Fly or Die” (International Anthem) is named best debut album; my pick — Nate Smith, “Kinfolk: Postcards from Everywhere” (Ropeadope)
  • Miguel Zenon‘s “Tipico” (Miel) is named best Latin album; my pick — Antonio Adolfo‘s “Hybrido — From Rio to Wayne Shorter” (AAM Music)

“Musicians of an intellectual bent dominated this year’s Top 10, and connections among them abound,” poll organizer and esteemed jazz critic Francis Davis writes in his overview of the poll. Read that piece, and his accompanying article “The Jazz Albums of 2017 and the Power of Gatekeepers,” and make some new musical discoveries.

Want to see ALL the results from the poll, with complete ballots from all the critics, including mine? Click here

Later, I’ll post my full Top 10 list here, along with some thoughts on those releases.


Sometimes (Some of) the Good Guys Win — Doris Duke Performing Artists Awards Announced

darcy james argueSix notable jazz musicians are among the 20 winners of $275,000 grants from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, big band leader Darcy James Argue, pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, alto saxophonists Steve Coleman and Yosvany Terry, and cellist Okkyung Lee represent the jazz contingent of this year’s Doris Duke Performing Artists.

Each award “breaks down to an unrestricted award of $225,000, plus up to $25,000 for audience development and up to $25,000 in reserves for creative work done in the grantee’s “retirement” years,” according to Artforum.

The complete list of recipients:

Muhal Richard Abrams (Jazz)
Ambrose Akinmusire (Jazz)
Darcy James Argue (Jazz)
Camille A. Brown (Dance)
Ronald K. Brown (Dance)
Ann Carlson (Dance)
Nora Chipaumire (Dance)
Steve Coleman (Jazz)
Paul S. Flores (Theater)
Cynthia Hopkins (Theater)
Daniel Alexander Jones (Theater)
Alonzo King (Dance)
Okkyung Lee (Jazz)
Linda Parris-Bailey (Theater)
Stephen Petronio (Dance)
Mildred Ruiz-Sapp (Theater)
Steven Sapp (Theater)
Shawn Sides (Theater)
Yosvany Terry (Jazz)
Doug Varone (Dance)