Wayne Shorter Tops 61st Annual DownBeat Critics Poll


Wayne Shorter (Photo: Robert Ascroft)

(Photo: )

Saxophonist Wayne Shorter won in four categories of the 61st Annual DownBeat International Critics Poll, taking honors for Jazz Artist of the Year and top Jazz Album, for his quartet’s disc Without A Net (Blue Note). He also was voted the top Soprano Saxophonist, and the Wayne Shorter Quartet was named the top Jazz Group.

“Let’s face it, we all want to be like Wayne Shorter when we grow up,” said Frank Alkyer, DownBeat publisher. “The man’s almost 80 and creating some of the best music in the world. Wayne and his group improvise with few, if any, rivals. He writes incredible compositions. He inspires generation after generation of improvisers, composers and fans. And Wayne Shorter returning to the Blue Note label is a match made in artistic heaven. No net. No boundaries. No problem. It’s only fitting that our critics gave him top honors in four categories of this year’s poll.

“The DownBeat Critics Poll represents a dedication to the improvised music community that you will find nowhere else in print or online,” Alkyer added. “We have 165 critics taking considerable time and effort to vote in the poll, and we thank each and every one for those contributions. The results are not just about the winners; they’re also about recognizing established and up-and-coming artists from all over the globe. We’re very proud to publish the names of more than 1,000 artists in this year’s poll results. It’s a list that offers a very comprehensive snapshot of what’s happening musically in 2013.”

The Critics Poll is divided into categories for established acts and for Rising Stars. In addition to the categories for Jazz, the poll also includes categories for Blues and Beyond.

Another big winner in the poll is Robert Glasper, who topped the Keyboard list and whose group the Robert Glasper Experiment won for Beyond Artist or Group of the Year. Glasper also topped two Rising Star categories: Rising Star–Composer and Rising Star–Producer.

Darcy James Argue was voted top Arranger, and his Secret Society tied for first place in the Big Band category with the Maria Schneider Orchestra.

Dr. John—who was voted the top Blues Artist or Group in the 2012 Critics Poll—topped that category again this year. Additionally, his CD Locked Down (Nonesuch) was voted Blues Album of the Year.

The complete poll results will be published in the August issue of DownBeat, arriving on newsstands on July 16.

The critics elected influential bassist and bandleader Charlie Haden into the DownBeat Hall of Fame. The DownBeat Veterans Committee elected blues singer and guitarist Robert Johnson (1911–’38) into the Hall of Fame, bringing the total number of inductees to 134.

Among the established artists in the Critics Poll, the winners include Dave Douglas (Trumpet), Nicole Mitchell (Flute), Rudresh Mahanthappa (Alto Saxophone), Jason Moran (Piano), Christian McBride (Bass), Jack DeJohnette (Drums), Wadada Leo Smith (Composer), Kurt Elling (Male Vocalist) and Cassandra Wilson (Female Vocalist). No Beginning No End (Blue Note) by vocalist José James was named the top Beyond Album.

The top Historical Album of the Year is the Miles Davis Quintet’s Live In Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 2 (Columbia/Legacy), a three-CD and one-DVD set that showcases the trumpeter in top form collaborating with Shorter (tenor and soprano saxophone), DeJohnette (drums), Chick Corea (piano and electric piano) and Dave Holland (bass).

Among the Rising Star winners are Tia Fuller (Rising Star–Alto Saxophone, Rising Star–Flute), Gregory Porter (Rising Star–Jazz Artist, Rising Star–Male Vocalist), Karrin Allyson (Rising Star–Female Vocalist), Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet (Rising Star–Jazz Group), Jason Marsalis (Rising Star–Vibes) and Derrick Hodge (Rising Star–Electric Bass).

The complete list of winners is below:


Hall of Fame: Charlie Haden
Veterans Committee Hall of Fame: Robert Johnson
Jazz Artist: Wayne Shorter
Jazz Album: Wayne Shorter Quartet, Without A Net (Blue Note)
Historical Album: Miles Davis Quintet, Live In Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 2 (Columbia/Legacy)
Jazz Group: Wayne Shorter Quartet
Big Band (tie): Darcy James Argue’s Secrety Society and Maria Schneider Orchestra
Trumpet: Dave Douglas
Trombone: Wycliffe Gordon
Soprano Saxophone: Wayne Shorter
Alto Saxophone: Rudresh Mahanthappa
Tenor Saxophone: Joe Lovano
Baritone Saxophone: Gary Smulyan
Clarinet: Anat Cohen
Flute: Nicole Mitchell
Piano: Jason Moran
Keyboard: Robert Glasper
Organ: Joey DeFrancesco
Guitar: Bill Frisell
Bass: Christian McBride
Electric Bass: Stanley Clarke
Violin: Regina Carter
Drums: Jack DeJohnette
Vibes: Stefon Harris
Percussion: Cyro Baptista
Miscellaneous Instrument: Béla Fleck (banjo)
Male Vocalist: Kurt Elling
Female Vocalist: Cassandra Wilson
Composer: Wadada Leo Smith
Arranger: Darcy James Argue
Record Label: ECM
Producer: Manfred Eicher
Blues Artist or Group: Dr. John
Blues Album: Dr. John, Locked Down (Nonesuch)
Beyond Artist or Group: Robert Glasper Experiment
Beyond Album: José James, No Beginning No End (Blue Note)


Rising Star Jazz Artist: Gregory Porter
Rising Star Jazz Group: Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet
Rising Star Big Band: Orrin Evans’ Captain Black Big Band
Rising Star Trumpet: Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah
Rising Star Trombone: Trombone Shorty
Rising Star Soprano Saxophone: Anat Cohen
Rising Star Alto Saxophone: Tia Fuller
Rising Star Tenor Saxophone: Jon Irabagon
Rising Star Baritone Saxophone: Vinny Golia
Rising Star Clarinet: Ben Goldberg
Rising Star Flute: Tia Fuller
Rising Star Piano: Gerald Clayton
Rising Star Keyboard: Jason Lindner
Rising Star Organ: Jared Gold
Rising Star Guitar: Rez Abbasi
Rising Star Bass: Ben Williams
Rising Star Electric Bass: Derrick Hodge
Rising Star Violin: Zach Brock
Rising Star Drums: Gerald Cleaver
Rising Star Vibes: Jason Marsalis
Rising Star Percussion: Dan Weiss
Rising Star Miscellaneous Instrument: Toumani Diabaté (kora)
Rising Star Male Vocalist: Gregory Porter
Rising Star Female Vocalist: Karrin Allyson
Rising Star Composer: Robert Glasper
Rising Star Arranger: John Hollenbeck
Rising Star Producer: Robert Glasper

  • Casey_B_2011-115-Edit.jpg

    Benjamin possessed a fluid, round sound on the alto saxophone, and he was often most recognizable by the layers of electronic effects that he put onto the instrument.

  • Charles_Mcpherson_by_Antonio_Porcar_Cano_copy.jpg

    “He’s constructing intelligent musical sentences that connect seamlessly, which is the most important part of linear playing,” Charles McPherson said of alto saxophonist Sonny Red.

  • Albert_Tootie_Heath_2014_copy.jpg

    ​Albert “Tootie” Heath (1935–2024) followed in the tradition of drummer Kenny Clarke, his idol.

  • Geri_Allen__Kurt_Rosenwinkel_8x12_9-21-23_%C2%A9Michael_Jackson_copy.jpg

    “Both of us are quite grounded in the craft, the tradition and the harmonic sense,” Rosenwinkel said of his experience playing with Allen. “Yet I felt we shared something mystical as well.”

  • Larry_Goldings_NERPORT_2023_sussman_DSC_6464_copy_2.jpg

    Larry Goldings’ versatility keeps him in high demand as a leader, collaborator and sideman.

On Sale Now
April 2024
Béla Fleck
Look Inside
Print | Digital | iPad