JazzTimes 2012 Readers' Poll Results

The real experts on the best in the previous year in jazz

From our January/February 2013 Year in Review issue, out now. Voting conducted online at JazzTimes.com. Winners appear in bold; runners-up are un-bolded and listed in order of number of votes. Readers were asked to consider artists’ achievements and music, book and film releases dating Nov. 1, 2011 through Nov. 1, 2012.

Pat Metheny with "Orchestrion" machinery
By Jimmy Katz
Herbie Hancock & Wayne Shorter at North Sea Jazz 2011
By Stephen Hotsma
Bill Evans at the piano
By Laurie Verchomin
Kurt Elling in performance at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pa.
By Ben Johnson
Gregory Porter

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Best of All

Artist of the Year

Sonny Rollins

Joe Lovano
Esperanza Spalding
Kurt Elling

New Artist

Gregory Porter

Ben Williams
Ambrose Akinmusire
Linda Oh

New Release

Kurt Elling 1619 Broadway: The Brill Building Project (Concord Jazz)

Pat Metheny Unity Band (Nonesuch)
Brad Mehldau Trio Ode (Nonesuch)
Gregory Porter Be Good (Motéma)

Historical Release

Bill Evans Live at Art D’Lugoff’s Top of the Gate (Resonance)

The Dave Brubeck Quartet Their Last Time Out (Sony Legacy)
Wes Montgomery Echoes of Indiana Avenue (Resonance)
Keith Jarrett/Jan Garbarek/Palle Danielsson/Jon Christensen
Sleeper: Tokyo, April 16, 1979 (ECM)

Best Groups

Acoustic Group

Wayne Shorter Quartet

Branford Marsalis Quartet
Joe Lovano Us Five
Christian McBride & Inside Straight

Contemporary/Electric Group

Pat Metheny Unity Band

Béla Fleck & the Flecktones
Robert Glasper Experiment

Big Band

The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra

Maria Schneider Orchestra
Mingus Big Band
Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band

Vocal Group

The Manhattan Transfer

The Four Freshmen
Take 6
New York Voices

Blues Artist

Tedeschi Trucks Band

B.B. King
Gary Clark Jr.
Buddy Guy

Best of the Jazz Industry

Record Label


Blue Note


The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire by Ted Gioia (Oxford University Press)

Clark: The Autobiography of Clark Terry by Clark Terry, with Gwen Terry (University of California Press)

Keystone Korner: Portrait of a Jazz Club by Kathy Sloane (Indiana University Press)

Film/Video/TV Series

Treme (HBO)

Syndicated Radio Program

Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz (NPR)

JazzSet With Dee Dee Bridgewater (NPR/WBGO)
The Checkout (with Josh Jackson) (WBGO)
Jazz After Hours (with Jim Wilke) (PRI)


Newport Jazz Festival

Monterey Jazz Festival
Detroit Jazz Festival
Montreal International Jazz Festival


Village Vanguard

Yoshi’s (Oakland & San Francisco)
Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola
Scullers Jazz Club

Best Musicians


Roy Hargrove

Wynton Marsalis
Ambrose Akinmusire
Terence Blanchard


Wycliffe Gordon

Steve Turre
Robin Eubanks
Trombone Shorty

Tenor Saxophone

Sonny Rollins

Joe Lovano
Wayne Shorter
Branford Marsalis

Alto Saxophone

Miguel Zenón

Kenny Garrett
Lee Konitz
Rudresh Mahanthappa

Soprano Saxophone

Wayne Shorter

Branford Marsalis
Dave Liebman
Jane Ira Bloom

Baritone Saxophone

Gary Smulyan

James Carter
Ronnie Cuber
Claire Daly


Anat Cohen

Paquito D’Rivera
Ken Peplowski
Don Byron


Nicole Mitchell

Hubert Laws
Dave Valentin
Henry Threadgill


Regina Carter

Jean-Luc Ponty
Sara Caswell
Jenny Scheinman


Herbie Hancock

Chick Corea
Brad Mehldau
Keith Jarrett

Electronic Keyboards

Chick Corea

Herbie Hancock
Craig Taborn
John Medeski


Joey DeFrancesco

Dr. Lonnie Smith
Larry Goldings
Gary Versace


Pat Metheny

Bill Frisell
Kurt Rosenwinkel
Russell Malone

Acoustic Bass

Christian McBride

Ron Carter
John Patitucci
Esperanza Spalding

Electric Bass

Marcus Miller

Stanley Clarke
Esperanza Spalding
Victor Wooten


Gary Burton

Stefon Harris
Joe Locke
Warren Wolf


Jack DeJohnette

Roy Haynes
Jeff Hamilton
Brian Blade


Poncho Sanchez

Bobby Sanabria
Airto Moreira
Giovanni Hidalgo

Male Vocalist

Kurt Elling

Gregory Porter
Sachal Vasandani
Mark Murphy

Female Vocalist

Diana Krall

Esperanza Spalding
Gretchen Parlato
Dee Dee Bridgewater

Miscellaneous Instruments (banjo, harmonica, cello, oud, et al.)
[4 Winners]

Béla Fleck (banjo)
Toots Thielemans (harmonica)
Steve Turre (conch shells)
Howard Levy (harmonica)


John Clayton

Maria Schneider
Darcy James Argue
John Hollenbeck


  • Jan 03, 2013 at 01:01PM Alejandro Guajardo


  • Mar 14, 2014 at 09:08AM pnagyl

    It's great to see this kind of polls, indeed. I'm extremely happy that I can see many artists in the list who are my favorites as well. Jazz music - in my vision - is the most expressive and the highest quality genre of all. I do like classical music too - no doubts about -, but as long as my favorite composers belong to ages I didn't live in, I think jazz comes closer to my spiritual world as contemporary music. I haven't even asked myself why. It just simply lives inside me, running in my veins... and I'm not a musician (although I'd like to be, if I had a second chance... but let's be realistic... I'm 48.) So, nothing else left but to enjoy this sweet thing....

  • Jan 29, 2015 at 05:11PM Barbara Perversa


  • Feb 02, 2015 at 05:42PM realjohnherlosky

    What a great year 2012 was

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