Monday, April 19, 2010

Jazz writers pick award nominees

The Jazz Journalists Association announced the finalists for the 2010 Jazz Awards, with a nice mix of young and old musicians in the list of the nominated.

Some of the newer names worth checking out are bandleader Darcy James Argue (who garnered nominations in five categories (Up & Coming Artist of the Year, Composer, Arranger, Big Band for his Secret Society and Record of the Year) and Vijay Iyer (nominated for Musician of the Year, Composer, Record, Small Ensemble and Pianist).

Lifetime Achievement in Jazz nominees include Muhal Richard Abrams, Jimmy Heath, James Moody, Wayne Shorter and Randy Weston -- and how James Moody and especially Wayne Shorter haven't already been awarded this honor must be a bit of an embarassment for the JJA. From Art Blakey to Weather Report, Shorter was a great contributor to the sound of jazz in the '60s to the '80s. Any self-respecting musician should know at least a handful of Shorter's compositions.

Nominees for Record of the Year include Argue's "Infernal Machines" and the Vijay Iyer Trio's "Historicity," and "Travail, Transformation and Flow" by the Steve Lehman Octet, "Folk Art" by Joe Lovano, Henry Threadgill's "This Brings Us To" and "Esta Plena" by Miguel Zenón.

New Jersey is well represented on the list -- with Bucky Pizzarelli up for Guitarist of the Year honors, and two WBGO hosts nominated for the Willis Conover-Marian McPartland Award for Broadcasting: Josh Jackson, for his "The Checkout -- Live at the Village Vanguard" program and (naturally) Gary Walker's "Morning Jazz."

Before the winners are announced, check out the nominees you haven't heard -- I guarantee you'll find some excellent jazz.

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