December 2023


Pharoah Sanders

88th Annual DownBeat Readers Poll Results!

​Pharoah Sanders Enters the DownBeat Hall of Fame

The late Pharoah Sanders is on the minds of many these days, including the readers of this magazine who have voted him into the DownBeat Hall of Fame. A live performance of Promises, a project by minimalist composer Sam Shepard (known as Floating Points) and Pharoah Sanders hit the Hollywood Bowl this summer with Shabaka Hutchings filling the role of Pharoah. The saxophonist’s album, Pharoah (Luaka Bop), from 1977 was also released bringing more consideration and fame to the man, his music and his rightful place in jazz history.

  • Wayne Shorter

    In His Own Words

    With Wayne Shorter’s passing on March 2, the readers of DownBeat wanted to honor him one more time by naming him Artist of the Year. A sentimental vote, to be sure, but one also so deserving as Shorter was active and ambitious right up to taking his last breath, penning and premiering an opera, Iphigenia.

    In loving memory of one of our truest geniuses of jazz, here are four select quotes from his conversations with DownBet over the years.

  • Artemis

    In Real Time

    In some ways, it’s hard to believe that Artemis is only six years old. Not just for the group’s rapid ascent into the jazz firmament, but for its players’ cool-headed resilience in the face of tectonic change. First, there was the sudden spotlight of the 2018 Newport Jazz Festival and subsequent major-label record deal. Then the social justice movement and the jazz world’s reckoning with its inequitable treatment of female musicians. And the global shutdown, just as the then-septet readied its debut album for release. Throughout all this, the group continued to steadily build an admired presence with the listening public. DownBeat readers noticed: This year they voted Artemis the Jazz Group of the Year.

  • 88th Annual DownBeat Readers Poll

    Complete Results
Blindfold Test

Much powerful and resonant music has emanated from South Africa and, in part due to the reprehensible cultural scatter and exile caused by apartheid, only occasionally has the world paid enough attention.
The blend of bittersweet serenity, melancholy and inner-mounting-flame in the oeuvres of Abdullah Ibrahim and Bheki Mseleku — back-filtered through the transatlantic diaspora and Ellington, Monk and McCoy Tyner — has been absorbed by Nduduzo Makhathini, who has emerged over the course of 10 leader albums into a perennially questing, paradoxically grounded force. His sophomore album on Blue Note, In the Spirit of Ntu, strives to distill ‘spiritual essence’ and cleave closer to universal truths. A philosopher wont to deliver articulate thesis statements between bouts at the piano, Makhathini is, onstage and in person, uncommonly warm and receptive.
His first Blindfold Test mixed curveballs and shoe-ins at the Detroit Jazz Festival, where he triumphantly culminated a U.S. tour with drummer Francisco Mela and bassist Zwelakhe-Duma Bell le Pere.

  • Sean Bergin & Ernst Reijseger: “For the Folks Back Home” from Mistakes (Broken, 1979)
  • Muhal Richard Abrams: “Imagine” from Song for All (Black Saint, 1997)
  • Ernest Ranglin: “Ala walee” from In Search of the Lost Riddim (Palm Pictures, 1998)
  • Don Pullen: “Endangered Species — African American Youth” from Random Thoughts (Blue Note, 1990)
  • Johnny Dyani: “Radebe” from Witchdoctor’s Son (Steeplechase, 1978)
  • Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya: “Sotho Blue” from Sotho Blue (Sunnyside, 2011)
Also in this Issue
The Beat
  • Joe Bonamassa
  • Carla Bley, Rest In Peace
  • The Louis Armstrong Center
  • Caroline Davis' Alula
  • Delmark Records at 70

Historical Column
  • Ahmad Jamal!
  • Cal Tjader
  • Wes Montgomery

  • Coltrane & Music Therapy
  • Lakecia Benjamin Solo
  • Nord Stage 4 Keyboard

Holiday Gift Guide!
  • Boxed Set Bonanza
  • Vinyl & Reissues
  • Holiday Yuletunes
  • Great Gear Gifts

Drums Column
  • Tomas Fujiwara
  • Francisco Mela & Johnathan Reisin
  • Kate Gentile
  • Mike Reed
  • Richard Barratta

The Hot Box Reviews!
  • John Scofield
  • Miho Hazama
  • Gonzalo Rubalcaba
  • JD Allen

Debuts Column
  • Aaron Lehrian
  • Shuteen Erdenebatar
  • Aline Homzy
  • Jesse Dietschi

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