Vijay Iyer Tops 60th Annual DownBeat Critics Poll
Posted 6/25/2012

Pianist Vijay Iyer won in an unprecedented five categories of the 60th Annual DownBeat International Critics Poll, taking honors for Jazz Artist of the Year and top Jazz Album, for his trio’s 2012 disc, Accelerando (ACT). Iyer also was voted the top Pianist, his trio was named the top Jazz Group, and he took honors for Rising Star Composer.

“This is one of our most exciting polls in years—not just because of its historic nature, but also because of some incredible, record-breaking artistic recognition,” said DownBeat Publisher Frank Alkyer.

“For our 2012 poll, 186 critics from around the globe voted, making this the largest voting turnout in the poll’s illustrious history,” Alkyer said. “The DownBeat Critics Poll is the most comprehensive poll in the jazz world. Its results show more than 1,000 artists or acts receiving votes in 62 categories, shining a spotlight on every style and every instrument in jazz.”

The Critics Poll is divided into categories for established acts and for Rising Stars. In addition to Jazz categories, the poll also includes Blues and Beyond categories. The complete results will be published in the August issue of DownBeat, arriving on newsstands on July 17.

The genre-blending pianist Robert Glasper is also a five-category winner this year. The Robert Glasper Experiment was voted the Beyond Group of the Year, and its disc Black Radio (Blue Note) was named the top Beyond Album. Glasper was voted the Rising Star Jazz Artist and Rising Star Pianist, while his trio was named the Rising Star Jazz Group.

The critics elected influential drummer and composer Paul Motian into the DownBeat Hall of Fame. Motian died on Nov. 22, 2011, at age 80. The DownBeat Veterans Committee elected saxophonists Gene Ammons (1925–’74) and Sonny Stitt (1924–’82) into the Hall of Fame, bringing the total number of inductees to 131.

The top Historical Album of the Year is the Miles Davis Quintet’s Live In Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy).

Among the established artists in the Critics Poll, the winners include Sonny Rollins (Tenor Saxophone), Nicole Mitchell (Flute), Christian McBride (Bass and Electric Bass), Jack DeJohnette (Drums), Kurt Elling (Male Vocalist) and Cassandra Wilson (Female Vocalist).

Critics selected Dr. John as the top Blues Artist, and Otis Taylor took the honors for top Blues Album, for Otis Taylor’s Contraband (Telarc).

Among the Rising Star winners are Josh Roseman (Rising Star Trombone), Julian Lage (Rising Star Guitar), Linda Oh (Rising Star Bass) and John Hollenbeck (Rising Star Arranger).

For a list of the complete results, click here.


Vijay Iyer (Photo: Jimmy Katz)

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