JJA Jazz Awards: What makes them different?

JJA Jazz Awards committee member Neil Tesser explains what makes the JJA awards different...and why JJA members take the time to make nominations for the awards.

Neil Tesser writes:

"Like a lot of my scribblin' brethren, I have mixed feelings about awards -- maybe even more than most of you, thanks to my longtime involvement with the GRAMMYs, where I have served on jazz screening committees for over 15 years, and on the overall Awards & Nominations Committee since 2004.

Part of me hates the idea of pitting unique artists against each other in catch-all categories.  And as various latecomers have glommed on to the process, it sometimes seems there's an awards ceremony every other week -- with the prizes all going to the wrong people entirely -- which diminishes the impact of all such competitions.

But that's why I take the time to work on the ballot for (and always vote in) the JJA Awards.  Being immersed in another organization's awards procedure, and looking around at those who've attempted to copy the GRAMMYs, renews my appreciation for our approach.  It's not just because we're the only group that honors jazz specifically (and in most cases, at all).  It's also because the JJA process is the fairest and most inclusive of any that I'm aware of -- in any field -- when it comes to recognizing excellence.

That's why I urge all the members to take a few minutes and join in the nominations process: the greater the involvement, the more validity and influence our choices reflect."

Neil Tesser is a broadcaster (WBEZ, WBBM, NPR, "Listen Here," "Miles Ahead"), critic (Chicago Reader, USA Today, Jazziz, Jazz Times, Chicago Sun Times, Playboy, others), program committee member, Chicago Jazz Festival, author of The Playboy Guide to Jazz, blogger at Examiner.com, educator (Northwestern University) Grammy-nominated liner-note writer, president of the Chicago chapter of the Recording Academy (the Grammys), JJA member since 1986 and  recipient of first JJA Willis Conover/Marian McPartland Award for Excellence in Broadcasting, 1996.

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