With the touring portion of the music business remaining at a standstill, this week let's continue our look at some of the musicians recognized in the 2020 DownBeat Critics Poll, specifically some of the winners in the poll's Rising Star" category. Also formerly known for a time as Talent Deserving Wider Recognition," the Rising Star" section of the poll showcases musicians who, for a variety of reasons, may not show up yet in the main critics poll but are deemed worthy of attention.
The first video features UK saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, winner in the Rising Star- Jazz Artist" category for 2020, and his band The Ancestors, who topped the balloting in the Jazz Group" category, playing a full set in April 2017 at the Jazz Cafe in London.
It's Jaimie Branch, winner in the Trumpet" category, playing a set with bassist Luke Stewart and drummer Mike Pride in September 2019 at First St. Green Art Park in New York City.
Next up, it's Lakecia Benjamin, who won Rising Star- Alto Sax" this year, performing in 2018 at Dizzy's Club in Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York. Benjamin is joined in her tribute to the music of John Coltrane by Yeisson Villamar (keyboards), Lonnie Plaxico (bass), Darrell Green (drums), and Charenee Wade (vocals).
That's followed by an appearance by Female Vocalist" winner Veronica Swift on the June 2020 episode of pianist Emmet Cohen's web series Live at Emmet's Place."
Tenor Sax" winner James Brandon Lewis, recorded in June 2019 during the annual Vision Festival at Roulette Intermedium in Brooklyn, NY. Lewis' band for the occasion included Jaimie Branch on trumpet and Luke Stewart on bass, plus drummer Warren G. Crudup III and guitarist Anthony Pirog.
The last video features Makaya McCraven, who was a double winner this year, polling first in both the Drums" and Producer" categories. Recorded in July 2019 at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, it's a full set of music from McCraven and his band, which includes saxophonist Irvin Pierce, harpist Brandee Younger, guitarist Matt Gold, keyboardist Greg Spero- bassist Junius Paul and vibraphonist Joel Ross.