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2009: The Year in Jazz

By Published: December 30, 2009
JJA Awards - Saxophonist Lee Konitz received the Jazz Journalists Association's Lifetime Achievement in Jazz award at the annual JJA awards event in New York in June. The many other winners included: Sonny Rollins, Musician of the Year; Maria Schneider, Composer of the Year; Esperanza Spalding, Up & Coming Artist of the Year; George Wein, New Festival Productions Events Producer of the Year; Carla Bley Big Band, Appearing Nightly (Watt/ECM), Record of the Year; Arturo O'Farrill, Song for Chico (Zoho), Latin Jazz Album of the Year. Media categories: Kris King, image of Hank Jones, Montreal Jazz Festival 2008, Best Photo of the Year; John Abbott, Lona Foote-Bob Parent Award for Photography; Nate Chinen, Helen Dance-Robert Palmer Award for Review and Feature Writing; Mike Zwerin, Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Journalism.

DB Critics Poll - The many categorized winners of Downbeat magazine's 57th annual critics poll included: Hall of Fame - Hank Jones; Jazz Album - Sonny Rollins, Road Shows, Vol. 1 (Doxy/Emarcy); Jazz Artist - Sonny Rollins; Jazz Artist, Rising Star and Alto Sax, Rising Star - Rudresh Mahanthappa; Jazz Group - Keith Jarrett Standard Trio; Jazz Group, Rising Star - Mostly Other People Do The Killing; Record Label—ECM; Female Vocals - Cassandra Wilson; Female Vocals, Rising Star - Dee Alexander; Male Vocals - Kurt Elling; Male Vocals, Rising Star - Giacomo Gates.

Monk Competition - Bassist Ben Williams, 24, who hails from the District of Columbia but is now enrolled in Juilliard's Masters program, won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition the finals, which were held in Washington in September. The two other finalists were bassists Joe Sanders of Milwaukee and Matt Brewer of Albuquerque. Williams received a $20,000 scholarship and a contract with Concord Records.

Essentially Ellington - Winners of the 14th annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition at Jazz at Lincoln Center were Garfield High School (1st place) and Roosevelt High School (2nd place), both of Seattle, and Wisconsin's Eau Claire Memorial High School (third place). The 2009 event included performances of works by Duke Ellington and Benny Carter. The 2010 competition will include works by Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, and Mary Lou Williams.

Foster honored - Saxophonist, composer and jazz educator Frank Foster was honored October 2 with the BNY Mellon Jazz 2009 Living Legacy Award at the Kennedy Center in Washington The award, through the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, honors living jazz masters from the mid-Atlantic region who have achieved distinction in jazz performance and education.

Austrian Cross - Saxophonist Sonny Rollins was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art, First Class while in Salzburg in November. The award is given to leading international figures for distinguished achievements. The only other American artists who have received this recognition are Frank Sinatra and Jessye Norman.

Murphy Scholarship - Jua Howard, 30, of Chicago, was named the first recipient of the newly established Mark Murphy Vocal Jazz Scholarship from the Berkeley, Calif.-based Jazzschool Institute.

United States Artists - Jazz musicians Hannibal Lokumbe (trumpeter and composer) and Lionel Loueke (guitarist and singer) were among a group of 50 artists to receive $50,000 unrestricted grants for artistic excellence from United States Artists (USA), the national grant-making and advocacy organization. Its fellowship program has been handing out grants since 2006.

ASCAP Wall of Fame - ASCAP added Jon Hendricks, Johnny Mandel, Annie Ross and Randy Weston; and posthumous honorees: John Coltrane, Dave Lambert and Tito Puente to the ASSCAP Jazz Wall of Fame in June. It also presented violinist Regina Carter with the ASCAP Foundation Vanguard Award, and presented the first ASCAP Jazz Wall of Fame Prize to clarinetist/saxophonist/composer Anat Cohen for her promise in composition and musicianship.

More international awards - German jazz vibraphonist and bass clarinetist Gunter Hampel received the Order of Merit First Class of the Federal Republic of Germany. Swiss trumpeter Hazy Osterwald, 87, received the Swiss Jazz Award for his lifetime achievements.

Lifetime Achievement - Saxophonist Marshall Allen, 85, a member of Sun Ra's Arkestra for more than 50 years and its director since 1995, received the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award on June 10 from Arts for Art and the Vision Festival.

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