2020 Nominees

These are the finalist nominees for the 2020 JJA Jazz Awards. Nominees in most categories were chosen by the votes of the Professional Journalist Members of the Jazz Journalists Association. Nominations were made on the basis of work done in calendar year 2019, with the exception of Lifetime Achievement Awards categories, in which nominations are for a lifetime body of work. Members and others were able to submit their own work for consideration in the Photo of the Year category; a committee of JJA Members chose the nominees in that category from among the submissions.

Winners of the 2020 JJA Jazz Awards in all categories will be determined by the votes of JJA Professional Journalist Members; winners will be announced here on in mid May.
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Note: We ask that you  DO NOT cut-and-paste or copy the nominee list into your own blog or site, please link to this page instead. We, of course, welcome coverage and commentary on the list that includes some nominee names. If you blog about or report on the nominees we will be happy to link back to you; please send the URL of your blog post or report to

Lifetime Achievement in Jazz
Roscoe Mitchell
Charles Lloyd
Carla Bley
Eddie Palmieri
Chick Corea
Jimmy Cobb

Jazz Musician of the Year
Kris Davis
Charles Lloyd
Christian McBride
Roscoe Mitchell
Terri Lyne Carrington

Up and Coming Musician of the Year
Lakecia Benjamin
Brandee Younger
Jaimie Branch
James Brandon Lewis
Joel Ross

Composer of the Year
Roscoe Mitchell
Guillermo Klein
Miho Hazama
Kris Davis

Arranger of the Year
Miguel Zenón
Michael Leonhart
Ted Nash
Brian Lynch

Record of the Year
Sonero - The Music of Ismael Rivera, by Miguel Zenón (Miel Music)
Diatom Ribbons, by Kris Davis (Pyroclastic Records)
Glitter Wolf, by Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom (Royal Potato Family)
The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul, by Branford Marsalis (Okeh)
We Are On the Edge - 50th Anniversary Celebration, by the Art Ensemble of Chicago (Pi Recordings)

Historical Record of the Year
Evans in England, by Bill Evans (Resonance Records)
Back on Indiana Avenue: The Carroll DeCamp Recordings, by Wes Montgomery (Resonance Records)
The Music Never Stops, by Betty Carter (Blue Engine Records)
Blue World, by John Coltrane (Verve)
Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions, by Eric Dolphy (Resonance Records)
Hittin' the Ramp: The Early Years (1936 - 1943), by Nat King Cole (Resonance Records)

Record Label of the Year
Resonance Records
Pi Recordings
Smoke Sessions Records
High Note/Savant

Male Vocalist of the Year
José James
Gregory Porter
Kurt Elling
Giacomo Gates

Female Vocalist of the Year
Veronica Swift
Jazzmeia Horn
Cécile McLorin Salvant
Sara Gazarek
Catherine Russell

Large Ensemble of the Year
Art Ensemble of Chicago 50th Anniversary
Sun Ra Arkestra
Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
Anat Cohen Tentet

Midsize Ensemble of the Year
Myra Melford's Snowy Egret
Harriet Tubman
Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom
Branford Marsalis Quartet
Miguel Zenón Quartet

Trumpeter of the Year
Dave Douglas
Jeremy Pelt
Wadada Leo Smith
Christian Scott aTundé Adjuah
Wynton Marsalis
Brian Lynch

Trombonist of the Year
Wycliffe Gordon
Michael Dease
Ryan Keberle
Steve Swell

Multi-Reeds Player of the Year
Joe Lovano
James Carter
Roscoe Mitchell
Scott Robinson

Alto Saxophonist of the Year
Steve Lehman
Gary Bartz
Bobby Watson
Matana Roberts
Miguel Zenón
Steve Coleman

Tenor Saxophonist of the Year
Branford Marsalis
Chris Potter
Melissa Aldana
Joe Lovano

Baritone Saxophonist of the Year
Gary Smulyan
Claire Daly
Lauren Sevian
James Carter
Ronnie Cuber
Scott Robinson

Soprano Saxophonist of the Year
Jane Ira Bloom
Sam Newsome
Dave Liebman
Branford Marsalis

Flutist of the Year
Nicole Mitchell
Charles Lloyd
Jamie Baum
Elena Pinderhughes

Clarinetist of the Year
Anat Cohen
Ben Goldberg
Don Byron
Ken Peplowski

Guitarist of the Year
Mary Halvorson
Miles Okazaki
Bill Frisell
Julian Lage
John Scofield

Pianist of the Year
Gerald Clayton
Chick Corea
Kris Davis
Matthew Shipp
Myra Melford

Keyboardist of the Year
Akiko Tsuruga
Herbie Hancock
Craig Taborn
Brian Charette

Bassist of the Year
William Parker
Thomas Morgan
Christian McBride
Dave Holland
Ron Carter
Reggie Workman
Linda May Han Oh

Strings: Violin, Viola, Cello or Harp Player of the Year
Brandee Younger
Tomeka Reid
Jenny Scheinman

Percussionist of the Year
Pedrito Martinez
Adam Rudolph
Cyro Baptista
Zakir Hussain

Mallet Instrumentalist of the Year
Warren Wolf
Stefon Harris
Joel Ross
Joe Locke

Traps Drummer of the Year
Andrew Cyrille
Allison Miller
Tyshawn Sorey
Terri Lyne Carrington
Brian Blade

Player of the Year of Instruments Rare in Jazz
Susan Alcorn (pedal steel guitar}
Brandee Younger (harp}
Grégoire Maret (harmonica)
Gary Versace (accordion)
Theon Cross (tuba)
Scott Robinson (reeds, brass and more)


Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Journalism

Ben Ratliff is the author of four books, including Every Song Ever: Twenty Ways to Listen in an Age of Musical Plenty (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016); The Jazz Ear: Conversations Over Music (Times Books, 2008); and Coltrane: The Story of a Sound (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007, semifinalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award). He was a jazz and pop critic at the New York Times from 1996 to 2016 and has published essays on music in publications including 4Columns, Affidavit,, Pitchfork and the New York Review of Books. He teaches cultural criticism at New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

Larry Blumenfeld has written about jazz and Afro Latin music for The Wall Street Journal since 2004; over the past 30 years his work has appeared in The Village Voice, New York Times, Daily Beast, Salon, DownBeat and Chamber Music magazine, among others. He was editor-in-chief of Jazziz from 1995-2000, and maintains a column in it; he's collaborated with the National Jazz Museum in Harlem on a “Jazz and Social Justice” series. He curates the Wells Fargo Jazz Series for Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, SC, and co-founded the Deer Isle Jazz Festival in Stonington, Maine.

Howard Reich has covered music for the Chicago Tribune since 1978, joining the staff in 1983. His six books include Jelly’s Blues, Let Freedom Swing, and Portraits in Jazz. He served on the Pulitzer music jury four times, including for honorees Wynton Marsalis (1997 winner) and Wadada Leo Smith (2013 finalist). He has won an Emmy and holds two honorary doctorates.

Stanley Crouch is a cultural critic, author, curator and recreational drummer. Based in New York City since 1975, he booked avant-garde jazz for the Tin Palace, wrote for the Village Voice from 1980-88, and became artistic consultant to Wynton Marsalis at Jazz at Lincoln Center. He's been a columnist for the New York Daily News, syndicated and commissioned by many periodicals, including a column for JazzTimes. His books include Notes of a Hanging Judge: Essays and Reviews, 1979-1989; The All-American Skin Game, or, The Decoy of Race: The Long and the Short of It, 1990-1994; Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker; The Artificial White Man: Essays on Authenticity;andConsidering Genius: Writings on Jazz.He speaks in Ken Burns' Jazz and other documentaries, and has been President of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation.

Dan Ouellette has been a freelance writer for more than 30 years, published in DownBeat, Billboard,, Huffington Post, Stereophile and Medium. After being a senior editor of ZEALnyc where he wrote the column "Jazz Notes Intel", he's taken the column from the now-shuttered startup to his website, The monthly column is called "Jazz & Beyond Intel". He's the author of Ron Carter: Finding the Right Notes and Bruce Lundvall: Playing By Ear, and has regularly presented public q&a sessions with major jazz artists at the Monterey Jazz Festival and two of Umbria Jazz Festival's sites in Perugia and Orvieto.

Print Periodical/Website of the Year
The New York City Jazz Record

Blog of the Year

Jazz Profiles, by Steven Cerra
Do The Math, by Ethan Iverson, Nate Chinen, Director of Editorial Content, directed by Ken McCarthy
Jazz Wax, by Marc Myers

Book of the Year About Jazz
Music: A Subversive History (Basic Books), by Ted Gioia
Rabbit's Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges (Oxford University Press), by Con Chapman
Women in Jazz: The Women, The Legends & Their Fights (8th House Publishing), by Sammy Stein
Miles Davis: New Research on Miles Davis and His Circle (Masaya Music), by Masaya Yamaguchi
Jazz from Detroit (University of Michigan Press), by Mark Stryker

Robert Palmer - Helen Oakley Dance Award for Excellence in Writing in 2019
Larry Blumenfeld
Nate Chinen
Giovanni Russonello
Ted Panken

The Marian McPartland-Willis Conover Award for Career Excellence in Broadcasting
Rusty Hassan, program host in Washington, D.C. since 1966, currently heard on WPFW.
Richard Hadlock,
program host "Annals of Jazz" since 1959 (on Bay Area stations KJAZ, KQED, since 1999 on KCSM); author of Jazz Masters of the '20s; writer for jazz publications, owner of The Record Changer, and a reeds player.
Simon Rentner, host and producer of "The Checkout" on WBGO, a broadcaster, web journalist and music presenter in New York City since 2005.
Alisa Clancy, KCSM (San Mateo, CA, since 1986), program director and host of "A Morning Cup of Jazz."

The Lona Foote-Bob Parent Award for Career Excellence in Photography
Robert Sutherland-Cohen work samples
Richard Conde work samples
Peter Gannushkin work samples

Steven Sussman work samples

Album Art of the Year

Playtime 2050 (Nick Sanders Trio, Sunnyside)
Artwork by Leah Saulnier, graphic design by Christopher Drukker

A Wall Becomes A Bridge  (Kendrick Scott Oracle, Blue Note)
Artwork by Yashua Klos

(Fima Chupakhin, s/r)
Artwork by Andrew Nedzvedsky, Hellmark Studio

Dream A Little… (Champian Fulton/Cory Weeds, Cellar Live)
Artwork by Takao Fujioka

Longboard: Being Wild (Alban Darche/Matthieu Donarier/Meivelyan Jacquot, YOLK Music)
Artwork by Kerne Erickson © Greg Young Publishing, Inc. - Design by Jean Depagne, Anima Productions

Photo of the Year

Click links to see individual photos. Click here to see all photo nominees as an album.

Victor Lewis, Half Note Jazz Club in Athens, Greece, by Thrassos Irinis

Francesco Diodati Yellow Squeeds, Umbria Jazz Winter 2019/Palazzo del Popolo, by Andrea Rotili

Kiyoshi Kitagawa, Leopolis Jazz Fest Lviv Ukraine, by Serhiy Horobets

Jazzmeia Horn, Belgrade Jazz Festival, by Nedici Dragoslav

Marco Piccirillo, Milk Jazz Way, Torino, Italy, by Carlo Mogavero