Wadada Leo Smith, Mary Halvorson Among Winners in DownBeat Critics Poll


Wadada Leo Smith topped three categories in the DownBeat Critics Poll: Trumpet, Jazz Artist and Jazz Album (for America’s National Parks).

(Photo: Michael Jackson)

Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and guitarist Mary Halvorson are among the artists who topped multiple categories in the 65th Annual DownBeat International Critics Poll.

Smith won the Trumpet category, he was voted Jazz Artist of the Year, and his Cuneiform release America’s National Parks was voted Jazz Album of the Year.

“Decades into his remarkable career, Wadada Leo Smith continues to reach new peaks,” said Bobby Reed, DownBeat editor. “America’s National Parks is an engaging, important work of art—one that illustrates not only that Wadada is a great musician but also an intriguing, ambitious conceptualist.”

Halvorson topped four categories: Guitar, Rising Star–Jazz Artist, Rising Star–Jazz Group (for her namesake trio) and Rising Star–Composer. Halvorson, who has become an in-demand collaborator as well as a revered bandleader, will headline a residency at New York’s Village Vanguard on July 18–23.

Other artists with multiple wins in the poll include Christian McBride, who topped the categories Bass and Rising Star–Producer, and Charles Lloyd, who won for Tenor Saxophone and Jazz Group (for Charles Lloyd & The Marvels). Maria Schneider takes home honors in three categories: Composer, Arranger and Big Band (for the Maria Schneider Orchestra).

The Historical Album winner is the Bill Evans two-disc set Some Other Time: The Lost Session From The Black Forest (Resonance), which was recorded in 1968. The Blues Album winner is David Bromberg Band, The Blues, The Whole Blues And Nothing But The Blues, released by Red House Records.

There was a rare tie in the category Rising Star–Female Vocalist, with Jen Shyu and Becca Stevens receiving the same number of votes.

Trumpeter and world-music pioneer Don Cherry (1936–’95) was elected into the DownBeat Hall of Fame via the Critics Poll, and the DownBeat Veterans Committee voted to induct three artists: pianist Herbie Nichols (1919–’63), composer George Gershwin (1898–1937) and pianist Eubie Blake (1887–1983).

Other winners in the poll include Anat Cohen (Clarinet), Steve Turre (Trombone), Jane Ira Bloom (Soprano Saxophone), Kenny Barron (Piano), Nicole Mitchell (Flute), Matana Roberts (Rising Star–Alto Saxophone), Thundercat (Rising Star–Electric Bass), Sara Caswell (Rising Star–Violin) and Cecilia Smith (Rising Star–Vibraphone).

The August issue of DownBeat has features on numerous Critics Poll winners, along with the complete results for each category, listing more than 1,200 artists who received votes. DB

The complete list of winners is below:


Hall of Fame: Don Cherry, Herbie Nichols, George Gershwin and Eubie Blake
Jazz Artist: Wadada Leo Smith
Jazz Album: Wadada Leo Smith, America’s National Parks (Cuneiform)
Historical Album: Bill Evans, Some Other Time: The Lost Session From The Black Forest (Resonance)
Jazz Group: Charles Lloyd & The Marvels
Big Band: Maria Schneider Orchestra
Trumpet: Wadada Leo Smith
Trombone: Steve Turre
Soprano Saxophone: Jane Ira Bloom
Alto Saxophone: Rudresh Mahanthappa
Tenor Saxophone: Charles Lloyd
Baritone Saxophone: Gary Smulyan
Clarinet: Anat Cohen
Flute: Nicole Mitchell
Piano: Kenny Barron
Keyboard: Robert Glasper
Organ: Joey DeFrancesco
Guitar: Mary Halvorson
Bass: Christian McBride
Electric Bass: Stanley Clarke
Violin: Regina Carter
Drums: Jack DeJohnette
Percussion: Hamid Drake
Vibraphone: Stefon Harris
Miscellaneous Instrument: Béla Fleck (banjo)
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: Buddy Guy
Blues Album: David Bromberg Band, The Blues, The Whole Blues And Nothing But The Blues (Red House Records)
Beyond Artist or Group: Leonard Cohen
Beyond Album: Allen Toussaint, American Tunes (Nonesuch)


Rising Star–Jazz Artist: Mary Halvorson
Rising Star–Jazz Group: Mary Halvorson Trio
Rising Star–Big Band: Michael Formanek Ensemble Kolossus
Rising Star–Trumpet: Taylor Ho Bynum
Rising Star–Trombone: Marshall Gilkes
Rising Star–Soprano Saxophone: Christine Jensen
Rising Star–Alto Saxophone: Matana Roberts
Rising Star–Tenor Saxophone: Noah Preminger
Rising Star–Baritone Saxophone: Dave Rempis
Rising Star–Clarinet: Oscar Noriega
Rising Star–Flute: Kali. Z. Fasteau
Rising Star–Piano: Kris Davis
Rising Star–Keyboard: Kris Bowers
Rising Star–Organ: Wil Blades
Rising Star–Guitar: Gilad Hekselman
Rising Star–Bass: Eric Revis
Rising Star–Electric Bass: Thundercat
Rising Star–Violin: Sara Caswell
Rising Star–Drums: Jeff Ballard
Rising Star–Percussion: Sunny Jain
Rising Star–Vibraphone: Cecilia Smith
Rising Star–Miscellaneous Instrument: Akua Dixon (cello)
Rising Star–Female Vocalist (tie): Jen Shyu and Becca Stevens
Rising Star–Male Vocalist: John Boutté
Rising Star–Composer: Mary Halvorson
Rising Star–Arranger: Esperanza Spalding
Rising Star–Producer: Christian McBride

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