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The 2015 Expanded Critics’ Poll

JT's critics choose their favorite musicians, books, festivals and more

Rudresh Mahanthappa
Maria Schneider Orchestra at the 2015 Detroit Jazz Festival
Antonio Sanchez, jazz drummer and film composer
Antonio Sánchez (photo: Andrea Boccalini)
Warren Wolf

For our annual Expanded Critics’ Poll, a companion piece to last issue’s Year in Review special feature, dozens of our trusted writers participated in a survey containing most of the same categories as our year-end Readers’ Poll. Voters were asked to focus on artists’ recordings and performances that transpired during 2015 rather than assessing entire careers.

BEST OF ALL

New Artist
Kamasi Washington
Joey Alexander
James Brandon Lewis
Adam O’Farrill

Artist of the Year
Kamasi Washington
Charles Lloyd
Maria Schneider
Rudresh Mahanthappa

BEST GROUPS

Acoustic Group/Artist
Rudresh Mahanthappa “Bird Calls”
Vijay Iyer Trio
Christian McBride Trio
Jack DeJohnette “Made in Chicago”

Electric/Fusion/Contemporary Group/Artist
Snarky Puppy
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah “Stretch Music”
Terence Blanchard Featuring the E-Collective
Kamasi Washington & the Next Step

Big Band/Large Ensemble
Maria Schneider Orchestra
Arturo O’Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra
Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society
The Gil Evans Project Directed by Ryan Truesdell

Vocal Group
Take 6
London, Meader, Pramuk & Ross
Duchess [tied w/ below]
Tillery

BEST OF THE JAZZ INDUSTRY

Record Label
ECM
Blue Note
Motéma
Pi

Festival
Winter Jazzfest (NYC)
Detroit Jazz Festival
Montreal International Jazz Festival
Monterey Jazz Festival

Nightclub
Village Vanguard
Jazz Standard
Birdland
Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola

Radio Program
Jazz Night in America (NPR/WBGO/JALC)
The Checkout (WBGO)
Jazz After Hours with Jeff Hanley (PRI)

Book
Billie Holiday: The Musician & the Myth by John Szwed (Viking)
Love Songs: The Hidden History by Ted Gioia (Oxford University)
Is That All There Is? The Strange Life of Peggy Lee by James Gavin (Atria)
Charles Lloyd: A Wild, Blatant Truth by Josef Woodard (Silman-James) [tied w/ below]
Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew (33 1/3) by George Grella Jr. (Bloomsbury)

BEST MUSICIANS

Trumpet/Cornet/Flugelhorn
Dave Douglas
Ambrose Akinmusire
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah
Terence Blanchard

Trombone
Robin Eubanks
Steve Turre
John Fedchock
Wycliffe Gordon

Tenor Saxophone
Joe Lovano
Chris Potter
Charles Lloyd
JD Allen [tied w/ two below]
Jon Irabagon
Branford Marsalis

Alto Saxophone
Rudresh Mahanthappa
Steve Coleman
Miguel Zenón
Tim Berne

Soprano Saxophone
Dave Liebman
Wayne Shorter
Jane Ira Bloom
Chris Potter

Baritone Saxophone
Gary Smulyan
James Carter
Ronnie Cuber
Claire Daly

Clarinet
Anat Cohen
Paquito D’Rivera
Don Byron
Ken Peplowski

Flute
Nicole Mitchell
Henry Threadgill
Charles Lloyd
Hubert Laws

Violin
Regina Carter
Jenny Scheinman
Mark Feldman
Sara Caswell

Piano
Jason Moran
Kenny Barron
Fred Hersch
Vijay Iyer

Electric Keyboards
Craig Taborn
Marc Cary
Robert Glasper
Chick Corea

Organ
Dr. Lonnie Smith
Larry Goldings
Joey DeFrancesco
John Medeski

Guitar
John Scofield
Bill Frisell
Julian Lage
Liberty Ellman

Acoustic Bass
Christian McBride
Dave Holland
Ron Carter
Linda Oh [tied w/ below]
John Patitucci

Electric Bass
Steve Swallow
Thundercat
Jamaaladeen Tacuma
Derrick Hodge [tied w/ below]
Marcus Miller

Vibraphone
Warren Wolf
Gary Burton
Stefon Harris
Chris Dingman [tied w/ below]
Joe Locke

Drums
Antonio Sanchez
Jack DeJohnette
Brian Blade
Jeff “Tain” Watts

Percussion
Pedrito Martinez
Zakir Hussain
Cyro Baptista
Manolo Badrena

Miscellaneous Instrument
[4 Winners]
Béla Fleck (banjo)
Grégoire Maret (harmonica)
Erik Friedlander (cello)
Scott Robinson (contrabass saxophone)

Male Vocalist
Gregory Porter
Kurt Elling
José James
Tony Bennett [tied w/ below]
Andy Bey

Female Vocalist
Cécile McLorin Salvant
Cyrille Aimée
Karrin Allyson
Cassandra Wilson

Composer
Maria Schneider
Terence Blanchard
Steve Coleman
Rudresh Mahanthappa

Arranger
Maria Schneider
Ryan Truesdell
Arturo O’Farrill
Billy Childs [tied w/ below]
John Clayton

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