The global awards ceremony to exclusively celebrate Jazz music, The Jazz Music Awards: Celebrating the Spirit of Jazz, and its creator and executive producer, Wendy F. Williams announce the recipients of six honorary awards and the nominees in eight competitive award categories. These special honors, as well as the thirty-three nominees, recognize individuals who have made – and continue to make – a lasting contribution to this American art form. Finalists in each category are the result of the first round of nominations submitted during the eligibility period from April 1, 2021, through March 31, 2022. These well-deserved honors will be presented at the Jazz Music Awards ceremony, set for Saturday, October 22, 2022, at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta, GA. Tickets are on sale now, click here for further details.
The Lifetime Achievement Award will go to saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter; the Jazz Legend Award will be presented to the family of the late pianist and composer McCoy Tyner. There are three Awards of Distinction categories: Innovator, Composer, and Educator. Modern jazz trumpeter and composer Ambrose Akinmusire will receive the Jazz Innovator Award; avant-garde saxophonist and woodwinds player and composer Henry Threadgill will be honored with the Jazz Composer Award; vocalist and composer, Dr. Lenora Helm Hammonds will receive the Jazz Educator Award; and veteran musician and educator James H. Patterson will receive the Jazz Impact Award.
Also, the final four nominees have been announced in eight competitive categories; a tie in the Best Duo, Group, or Big Band category resulted in five nominees, while the Best International Artist category submissions did not meet the Jazz Music Awards submission criteria resulting in this award being removed from the final ballot this year.
Four-time Grammy Award-nominated artists Jean & Marcus Baylor, also known as The Baylor Project received three nominations for their release, Generations; along with Orrin Evans with two nominations for The Magic of Now and EEE (Eubanks-Evans-Experience) with well-known TV personality Kevin Eubanks; 2023 NEA Jazz Master and Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Kenny Garrett with two nominations for Sounds From The Ancestors; eight-time Grammy Award-winning bassist Christian McBride with two nominations with his band Inside Straight for Live at the Village Vanguard; acclaimed jazz harpist Brandee Younger with two nominations for Somewhere Different; and contemporary jazz keyboardist Brian Culbertson with two nominations for The Trilogy Red.
Also nominated are acclaimed jazz vocalist Jazzmeia Horn with Her Noble Force (Best Duo, Group, or Big Band); the late veteran organ master Joey DeFrancesco, who passed away last week on August 25, 2022 (Best Mainstream Artist); chart-topping contemporary flutist Ragan Whiteside (Best Contemporary Artist); contemporary jazz keyboardist and producer Bob Baldwin (Best Contemporary Album); multi-instrumentalist and producer Ben Tankard, best known as “the godfather of gospel/jazz” (Best Contemporary Artist); and veteran smooth jazz guitarist Norman Brown (Song of the Year).
Other nominees in the contemporary jazz categories include popular bassist and producer Brian Bromberg (Best Contemporary Artist); jazz/pop vocalist Lindsey Webster (Best Contemporary Artist); master drummer Sonny Emory (Best Contemporary Album); Jazz educator and vocalist Shawnn Monteiro (Best Vocal Performance); multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Mark Hasselbach (Best Contemporary Album); and the Count Basie Orchestra, under the direction of Scotty Barnhart (Best Duo, Group or Big Band).
The Jazz Music Awards nominations also recognize a diverse array of burgeoning artists, including French vibraphonist Simon Moullier (Best New Jazz Artist); Grammy-nominated Jazz vocalist Stacey Kent (Best Vocal Performance); Kazemde George, Brooklyn-based saxophonist, composer and beatmaker (Best New Artist); Julieta Engenio, Argentine-born tenor saxophonist, composer, and bandleader (Best New Artist); neo-traditionalist Samara Joy (Best New Artist); acclaimed Rwandan-Ugandan jazz singer and playwright Somi (Best Vocal Performance); South African-born teen multi-instrumentalist Justin-Lee Schultz (Song of the Year); and Alabama-based drummer/producer James “PJ” Spraggins (Song of the Year).
“We are honored to recognize and present a wide range of dynamic and innovative artists including our six award honorees and our thirty-three nominees. I am still amazed that in 2022, a dedicated global Jazz award show in North America has never been done at this level. I am thrilled that we can step into this space to honor and recognize musicians and the entire genre in this way. We are making history and we are just getting started,” says Wendy F. Williams, creator and executive producer of the Jazz Music Awards, as well as the General Manager of NPR-affiliate Jazz 91.9 WCLK. “Jazz music has been an essential part of the legacy of Jazz 91.9 WCLK, which will be celebrating fifty years on the air in 2024, from its home on the campus of Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta. By recognizing our honorees and nominees, we are giving thanks for their incredible artistry that furthers the richness of the Jazz tradition, which is integral to American music and culture.”
An added attraction during the Jazz Music Awards will be several live performances. These will include appearances by several acclaimed Jazz vocal talents: NEA Jazz Master and Emmy, Grammy and Tony Award-winning artists Dee Dee Bridgewater, Grammy Award-winning artist Ledisi, preeminent jazz/gospel/blues vocalist Lizz Wright, and four-time Grammy Award-nominated artist Jazzmeia Horn. All performances will be under the musical direction of NEA Jazz Master and three-time Grammy Award-winning recording artist and composer Terri Lyne Carrington, who serves as the musical director and co-executive producer for the inaugural ceremony.
“The Jazz Music Award is a necessary and important platform for the jazz community,” says Carrington, who is also the founder of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice. “It’s vital that we spotlight and celebrate artists across all hybrids of Jazz, many of whom have been overlooked or unsung throughout their careers.”
The inaugural Jazz Music Awards will establish a new platform for recognizing the rich history, musical innovation, and vital artistry that continue to inform America’s truly original art form – Jazz Music. As an essential component of the vast tapestry that weaves together African Americans’ contributions to the arts, Jazz is the Culture of America. It is a unique sound and style that is beloved around the world.