Tuesday, June 15, 2010

JJA Jazz Awards 2010 - a comment

The 2010 JJA Jazz Awards took place last night. You can see the full list of winners and nominees here.

Many congrats to Vijay Iyer, who won the award for musician of the year. Well deserved recognition for a guy who contines to deliver exciting and fresh music. I must say, though, that some of the picks seem totally uninspired to me.

It may just be a simple matter of taste, of course, but when the consensus is that a safe (but rather dull) Joe Lovano record is the pick of the bunch in a year when there were plenty of really good jazz records - many of which released by fairly young artists - you'll have to question whether the majority of the voters have bothered to look beyond name recogniton when they checked out new records. Or it may simply be that their tastes are too damn conservative. Yes, I've been on that horse before. To me, part of the joy and excitement of jazz is a willingness to experiment, try new things, twist'n'turn and look at things a bit differently, seek new paths, whether indivudual voices or the structures of jazz music itself. After all, that has been a large part of the history of jazz. When did those qualities stop being important?

The "Bassist of the Year" category is a case in point. Won by Dave Holland (63) - who admittedly still delivers from time to time but is still a pretty safe pick - and where only Christian McBride of those nominated is under the age of 50 - Ron Carter (73), Charlie Haden (72, bless him), John Patitucci (51) filling the other spots. None of them can really be said to be particularly adventurous these days either. Where are the Adam Lanes and the "Moppa" Elliotts? William Parker (who is over 50, but is more experimental than those nominated), Joe Morris, Ben Allison, Hilliard Greene or Linda Oh? I could go on.

I may do a rundown of the categories later this week if I feel like it. Allthough I disagree with a good few of the picks and nominees, others were not too shabby. To close this post, though, I want to congratulate Nate Chinen on winning the Helen Dance-Robert Palemer Award for Review and Feature Writing. Chinen is a seeker, and kudos to him for that.

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