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Jason Moran - Ten

Jason Moran scored a triple-crown victory in the 59th Annual DownBeat Critics Poll, winning honors for Jazz Artist of the Year, Jazz Album of the Year and Pianist of the Year. The full results of this year’s poll will be published in the August issue of DownBeat, which hits newsstands right after the July 4 holiday.

The accolades are well-deserved for Moran, who celebrated the 10th anniversary of his group, The Bandwagon, by recording and releasing this year’s top album, Ten (Blue Note). He has also been out touring as a member of saxophonist Charles Lloyd’s quartet, hosting his down-home Fats Waller Dance Party at New York’s Harlem Stage Gatehouse and still finding time to drop into places like Chicago’s Green Mill to play a gig with the likes of saxophonist Ken Vandermark.

“I always tell people that I have a fairy-tail career,” Moran said in DownBeat’s cover story for August. “From the beginning, things began to come my way, and I was prepared to take advantage of them in every facet that I could. I did not want to leave stuff on the clothesline. I wanted to yank it all down. And that’s what I did.”

In addition to Moran’s achievement, the DownBeat critics elected singer Abbey Lincoln and bassist Paul Chambers as the 126th and 127th members of the DownBeat Hall of Fame. The critics selected Lincoln—with her staggering attitude, style and phrasing—after she had passed away last August at the age of 80. Chambers, who died in 1969, was one of the jazz world’s most influential, yet under-appreciated, bassists. He was elected into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee.

“The DownBeat Critics Poll is the most comprehensive poll in the jazz world, with 63 separate categories,” said Frank Alkyer, DownBeat publisher. “The 80 critics who voted in this year’s poll really dug in to address what’s happening in every style and on every instrument, including vocals, in jazz. The great thing is that the critics not only vote for established artists, but also honor winners with the ‘Rising Star’ categories. Time after time, we have seen a ‘Rising Star’ winner develop into a major artist.”

Moran and Rudresh Mahanthappa (the Alto Saxophonist of the Year) are both examples of artists whose career arcs can be traced in the Critics Poll over the years, first winning in the ‘Rising Star’ categories and later in the established artist categories.

One of the breakout artists of this year’s poll is 29-year-old trumpeter Ambrose Akimusire, who won Rising Star Jazz Artist of the Year and Rising Star Trumpet honors. At the other end of the spectrum, 80-year-old legend Paul Motian earned his first honor as Drummer of the Year.

The poll also includes winners for Blues, as well as the Beyond categories for great music beyond the realm of jazz and blues.

“It’s always a thrill to announce the winners,” said Alkyer. “But the beauty of the poll is to see the complete listings. We’ve got 66 amazing albums listed in the poll and more than 500 artists. It’s another sign that jazz, blues and great improvised music are alive and well in 2011. We’re proud to trumpet that fact.”




In 1999, the same year that Jason Moran released his debut Soundtrack To Human Motion, the prodigy pianist and composer also joined New Directions, a band made up of young stars from the Blue Note roster that went on tour in celebration of the label’s 60th anniversary. At the core of New Directions was the genesis of a rhythm section—with Moran, bassist Tarus Mateen, and drummer Nasheet Waits—that would go on to become one of the most enduringly creative piano trios in jazz.

Ten years later, the trailblazing trio—which Moran has since dubbed The Bandwagon—headed into Avatar Studios in Manhattan to record Ten, the most assured and focused album of Moran's acclaimed career, a snapshot of a mature band with a decade of shared musical experience from which to draw. T

Jason Moran - Ten 


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