December 2022


Kenny Barron

87th Annual DownBeat Readers Poll Results

Kenny Barron Enters the DB Hall of Fame!

When pianist Kenny Barron heard he had been elected to the DownBeat Jazz Hall of Fame, his immediate response was to deflect attention from himself.

“There are so many great players,” he said, “but I am honored.”

Such modesty is in keeping with the grace and elegance that have typified Barron — both as a person and a musician — for more than six decades.

  • Christian McBride

    Jazz Artist, Bassist and Producer of the Year

    Christian McBride never strays too far from his bass, not even when he’s offstage. Not when he’s producing an international jazz festival, or running an intensive workshop, or broadcasting a radio show. His bass informs just about every aspect of his professional life.

    “The primary role of a bass player is to support, and it’s the same in anything else that I do,” McBride said in a video call from Los Angeles, where he was on tour with the Joshua Redman’s MoodSwing Quartet. “I don’t necessarily like the spotlight. I like making things comfortable for the person who has the spotlight. I like being the person no one notices until I’m not doing my job well.”

    This year, DownBeat readers shine a spotlight on McBride precisely because he does his job so well. In the 87th Annual DownBeat Readers Poll, fans voted McBride Artist of the Year, Bassist of the Year and Producer of the Year.

  • Pat Metheny

    Album of the Year/Guitarist of the Year

    For someone named Guitarist of the Year in the 2022 DownBeat Readers Poll, Pat Metheny has a complicated relationship with his instrument.

    “I don’t necessarily think of myself as a guitar player,” he said in a September Zoom call from his hotel room in Baltimore, where he was playing to overflow crowds at the Keystone Korner before the final leg of a jam-packed tour that would take him to South America. “Maybe it’s sixth or seventh on the list. It’s in there, but it’s nowhere near the top.”

    Metheny, who has also won Album of the Year for Side-Eye NYC (V1.IV) (Modern), said that, up until about a decade ago, he thought of his instrument as a “translation device” useful in strictly utilitarian terms.

  • Snarky Puppy

    Jazz Group of the Year

    Michael League, the driving force behind Snarky Puppy and the architect of its rise to worldwide popularity, seems constantly surprised by the group’s success. He shakes his head in wonder at the band’s third win in the 2022 DownBeat Readers Poll. “We spent so many years being a totally unknown band, I don’t know that I’ll ever start to think of it as something that people care about … . I’m flattered that a publication like (DownBeat) would even want to write about us.”

  • Joey DeFrancesco

    Goodbye, Joey: Organist of the Year

    In the world of jazz organ, eras will now be measured pre- and post-Joey DeFrancesco. The noted keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist died unexpectedly on Aug. 25 at the age of 51 from a massive heart attack, according to a statement released by Hammond Organ World. His passing gave DownBeat readers one last opportunity to honor him as Organist of the Year.

  • Holiday Gift Guide

    Yule Cool!

    Great boxed sets, new albums, books and gear for the music lover on your gift list. And, perhaps, a little something for yourself!

Blindfold Test

Jim McNeely & Ryan Truesdell, Part II
During this year’s International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers symposium in Austin, Texas, celebrated jazz orchestrators Jim McNeely and Ryan Truesdell administered the DownBeat Blindfold Test to each other, onstage in front of a live audience. In advance of the event, each artist chose four tracks for his counterpart to identify over the course of the test, for a total of eight musical selections — the second half of which are presented here. (Part I of this Double Blindfold Test appeared in DownBeat’s November issue.)

  • Rabih Abou-Khalil: “Ma Muse M’amuse” from The Cactus Of Knowledge (Enja, rec’d 2000)
  • Vanessa Perica Orchestra: “Dance Of The Zinfandels” from Love Is A Temporary Madness, (Independent Release, 2020)
  • Oliver Nelson Orchestra: “Sound Piece For Jazz Orchestra” from Sound Pieces (Impulse!, rec’d 1966)
  • Billy Childs Ensemble: “A Man Chasing The Horizon” from Autumn: In Moving Pictures (ArtistShare, 2010)
Also in this Issue
  • Complete Results with more than 90 albums and 700-plus artists listed!
  • Keith Jarrett, Bordeaux Concert (ECM)
  • Bobby Watson, Back Home in Kansas City (Smoke Sessions)
  • JD Allen, Americana Vol. 2 (Savant)
  • The Comet Is Coming, Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam (Impulse!)
  • Wynton’s Shanghai Suite
  • The Resilient Detroit Jazz Festival
  • Moor Mother
  • Storyville at 70
  • Jason Yeager’s Vonnegut Valentine
  • Yosef Gutman Levitt
  • Master Class: ‘Giant Steps’ as Shorter Steps, by Antonio J. Garcia
  • Transcription: Melissa Aldana’s Tenor Saxophone Solo on ‘Emilia,’ by Jimi Durso
  • FarPlay Delivers Live Collaboration at a Distance

PLUS: Dozens of album reviews, product reviews and much more!