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2021 JJA Jazz Awards Nominees Announced

Frank Hammel • News • April 16, 2021

Spotlighting the creative energy of the greater jazz community over a year of turmoil, the 2021 JJA Jazz Awards’ Finalists Ballot, released April 16, cites some 300 musicians, writers, broadcasters, photographers, their recordings, books, live-streams, podcasts and platforms, as nominees for the Jazz Journalists Association’s 25th annual Awards celebrating excellence.

More details from JJA (

The complete slates of nominees in 47 categories of Jazz Recordings and Performance and Jazz Journalism are posted at the fully re-designed JJAJazzAwards website.

Saxophonists Charles Lloyd, Roscoe Mitchell and Pharoah Sanders and bassist Ron Carter are nominees for the JJA’s Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Award. Composer-arranger-orchestra leader Maria Schneider has five nominations, including for Data Lords as Album of the Year. Emerging leaders such as Nubya Garcia, Immanuel Wilkins, Thana Alexa, Sajë, multi-reedist Anna Weber and the band Artemis are among the nominees, along with established artists such as Bill Frisell, Carla Bley, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.

The JJA Jazz Awards is unique in recognizing jazz’s media-makers. Nominated for Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Journalism are:

Nate Chinen, WBGO director of editorial content, author;

Paul de Barros, author, retired from Seattle Times;

Marc Myers, author, Jazz Wax blog, The Wall Street

Ben Ratliff, author, retired from The New York Times;

Howard Reich, retired from the Chicago Tribune, author, films;

Kevin Whitehead, critic on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, author of Book of the Year Award nominee Play The Way You Feel: The Essential Guide to Jazz Stories on Film.

Live-stream Producer of the Year, Jazz Podcast and Jazz Documentary are new media ballot categories. Awards for Vocal Group, Duo, Brass Specialist and Electronics Specialist of the Year are new, too.

Professional members of the JJA, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit, international organization, submitted nominations, finalists being those accumulating the most. Committees pre-screened nominees for Book of the Year, Photo of the Year and Album Art of the Year awards. The JJA’s professional members vote again to determine the 2021 Jazz Awards winners.

“JJA members are proud to proclaim that despite the challenges of creating music, documenting and commenting on it during a pandemic, jazz people more than faced the challenges,” said Howard Mandel, JJA president since 1994. “We’ve expanded our Awards categories because there’s so much music and media being made about it, to consider.”

Winners of the 2021 JJA Jazz Award will be announced on or about May 5. Sponsors of the JJA’s Awards and Jazz Heroes campaigns include the Joyce and George Wein Foundation, the Jazz Foundation of America, Braithwaite and Katz Communications, the Montreal International Jazz Festival, Carolyn McClair Public Relations, and Jazz Promo Services.

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