Terri Lyne Carrington Tops 2020 DownBeat Critics Poll


Terri Lyne Carrington, who topped three categories in the 2020 DownBeat Critics Poll, is the first female instrumentalist to win the Jazz Artist of the Year category.

(Photo: John Watson)

Trailblazing drummer and bandleader Terri Lyne Carrington has made history numerous times in her career, and the results of the 68th Annual DownBeat Critics Poll are yet another example. Carrington was a triple winner in the poll, becoming the first female instrumentalist to win the Jazz Artist category. Her 2019 release, Waiting Game (Motéma), was voted the top Jazz Album. She recorded the double-disc set with her band Social Science, which topped the Jazz Group category.

“As a musician, producer, educator and activist, Terri Lyne Carrington is an amazing force in the jazz community,” said DownBeat Editor Bobby Reed. “Her skills as a bandleader are evidenced not only by the incredible music on Waiting Game, but also by the many accolades she has received. We are proud to present her with three DownBeat Critics Poll awards to add to her growing collection of honors.”

Among the other artists winning multiple categories in the poll is Maria Schneider, who topped the Composer and Arranger categories, as well as the Big Band category, for her namesake orchestra. Reedist Shabaka Hutchings topped the category Rising Star–Jazz Artist, and his band Shabaka and the Ancestors topped the category Rising Star–Jazz Group. Makaya McCraven won the categories Rising Star–Drums and Rising Star–Producer.

There was a tie in the Piano category this year, with Kenny Barron receiving the same number of votes as Kris Davis.

Other winners in the 2020 Critics Poll include Cécile McLorin Salvant (Female Vocalist), Gregory Porter (Male Vocalist), Rudresh Mahanthappa (Alto Saxophone), Jaimie Branch (Rising Star–Trumpet), Lakecia Benjamin (Rising Star–Alto Saxophone) and Sasha Berliner (Rising Star–Vibraphone).

The Historical Album of the Year is John Coltrane’s Blue World (Impulse), which includes 27 minutes of previously unheard music. Recorded in 1964, the album features bassist Jimmy Garrison, drummer Elvin Jones and pianist McCoy Tyner, who died March 6 at age 81.

The Blues Album of the Year is singer-guitarist Robert Cray’s That’s What I Heard (Nozzle/ThirtyTigers), and the Beyond Album of the Year is guitarist Bill Frisell’s Harmony.

The August issue of DownBeat includes the full results of the poll, along with features on poll winners Ambrose Akinmusire (Trumpet), Joey DeFrancesco (Organ), Steve Swallow (Electric Bass) and others. A complete list of winners is below. Subscribe to DownBeat here to ensure that you get a copy of the August issue.

Winners from the 2019 poll can be found here. DB

2020 DownBeat Critics Poll

Hall of Fame: Jimmy Heath

Hall of Fame: Carmen McRae

Hall of Fame: Mildred Bailey

Jazz Artist: Terri Lyne Carrington

Jazz Album: Terri Lyne Carrington & Social Science, Waiting Game (Motéma)

Historical Album: John Coltrane, Blue World (Impulse)

Jazz Group: Terri Lyne Carrington & Social Science

Big Band: Maria Schneider Orchestra

Trumpet: Ambrose Akinmusire

Trombone: Wycliffe Gordon

Soprano Saxophone: Jane Ira Bloom

Alto Saxophone: Rudresh Mahanthappa

Tenor Saxophone: Charles Lloyd

Baritone Saxophone: James Carter

Clarinet: Anat Cohen

Flute: Nicole Mitchell

Piano: Kenny Barron and Kris Davis (TIE)

Keyboard: Herbie Hancock

Organ: Joey DeFrancesco

Guitar: Mary Halvorson

Bass: Christian McBride

Electric Bass: Steve Swallow

Violin: Regina Carter

Drums: Brian Blade

Percussion: Zakir Hussain

Vibraphone: Stefon Harris

Miscellaneous Instrument: Tomeka Reid (cello)

Female Vocalist: Cécile McLorin Salvant

Male Vocalist: Gregory Porter

Composer: Maria Schneider

Arranger: Maria Schneider

Record Label: ECM

Producer: Manfred Eicher

Blues Artist or Group: Gary Clark Jr.

Blues Album: Robert Cray, That’s What I Heard (Nozzle/Thirty Tigers)

Beyond Artist or Group: Dr. John

Beyond Album: Bill Frisell, Harmony (Blue Note)

Rising Star Categories

Rising Star–Jazz Artist: Shabaka Hutchings

Rising Star–Jazz Group: Shabaka & The Ancestors

Rising Star–Big Band: Ralph Peterson’s Gen-Next Big Band

Rising Star–Trumpet: Jaimie Branch

Rising Star–Trombone: Nick Finzer

Rising Star–Soprano Saxophone: Yuval Cohen

Rising Star–Alto Saxophone: Lakecia Benjamin

Rising Star–Tenor Saxophone: James Brandon Lewis

Rising Star–Baritone Saxophone: Josh Sinton

Rising Star–Clarinet: Aurora Nealand

Rising Star–Flute: Anna Webber

Rising Star–Piano: Aaron Diehl

Rising Star–Keyboard: Zaccai Curtis

Rising Star–Organ: Akiko Tsuruga

Rising Star–Guitar: Lage Lund

Rising Star–Bass: Ben Street

Rising Star–Electric Bass: Tal Wilkenfeld

Rising Star–Violin: Sarah Bernstein

Rising Star–Drums: Makaya McCraven

Rising Star–Percussion: Chad Taylor

Rising Star–Vibraphone: Sasha Berliner

Rising Star–Miscellaneous Instrument: Brandee Younger (harp)

Rising Star–Female Vocalist: Veronica Swift

Rising Star–Male Vocalist: Leslie Odom Jr.

Rising Star–Composer: JD Allen

Rising Star–Arranger: Sullivan Fortner

Rising Star–Producer: Makaya McCraven

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