NPR Music’s Best Jazz of 2014: Steve Lehman, Wadada Leo Smith, Ambrose Akinmusire, more

New releases by saxophonist Steve Lehman, trumpeters Wadada Leo Smith and Ambrose Akinmusire, and saxophonist Sonny Rollins topped the 2014 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll (I voted), organized by longtime jazz writer Francis Davis.

Also in the top 10: Releases by Mark Turner, Marc Ribot, Jason Moran, Brian Blade, Kenny Barron & Dave Holland, and Jane Ira Bloom. A wide swath of critics — 140 — were polled for their choices, and they nominated more than 700 albums for honors.

John Coltrane’s “Offering” was named best reissue, with best vocal album award going to Andy Bey, best debut to drummer Jeff Ballard, and best Latin to pianist and bandleader Arturo O’ Farrill.

For Davis’s thoughts on the Top 10 recordings, along with audio clips, and links to all of the voting data (including my ballot) assembled by Tom Hull, click here.

JJA Jazz Awards Noms: Vijay Iyer, Darcy James Argue, Wayne Shorter, photographer Herb Snitzer, More

Vijay Iyer, Wayne Shorter, Darcy James Argue, Henry Threadgill and Steve Lehman are among the musicians and journalists receiving the most nominations for this year’s JJA (Jazz Journalists Association) Jazz Awards.

Jazz musicians are being honored in 31 categories, while another 10 categories celebrate achievements in jazz journalism — including criticism, photography, and broadcasting. This year’s nominees for Musician of the Year: Iyer, Threadgill, Dave Douglas, Joe Lovano and Sonny Rollins.

The Tampa Bay area’s own Herb Snitzer, whose work includes Jazz — A Visual Journey, has been nominated for the Lona Foote-Bob Parent Award for Photography.

Winners, to be determined by the JJA’s 400 or so members, will be announced at the awards gala, to be held the third week of June at City Winery in New York City.

For more information on the awards, and the complete list of nominees, click here.

(A side note: I owe Herb a huge debt of gratitude for allowing me to use his Thelonious Monk photos for the 1996 tribute I produced, Monk in the Sun)