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Jazz Journalism Awards span generations, expand to internet, video

The Jazz Journalists Association [JJA]announced more than 200 finalist nominated in 39 categories of excellence in music and in music journalism from which winners will be chosen for the JJA's 15th annual JJA Jazz Awards. The complete list can be found atjjaJazzawards.org

Winners will be announced at a benefit Gala at City Winery in New York City on June 11 from 1 to 5 p.m. The gala and awards presentations along with featured musical performances will be emceed by Josh Jackson, host of "The Checkout" on WGBO. Streaming live video of the event will appear on jjaJazzAwards.org.

This year's Jazz Awards nominees demonstrate the musical vigor of jazz's elders as well the fresh spirits of its new stars: In the Musician of the Year award category, for example, tenor sax legend Sonny Rollins, age 80, vies with 26-year-old bassist/ vocalist Esperanza Spalding (who received the 2011 Grammy for "Best New Artist").

Other nominees in this category are pianist Jason Moran, saxophonist Joe Lovano and pianist Vijay Iyer, evincing that this year's nominations span generations and a vast range of personal styles, too.

Moran, winner in 2010 of a prestigious MacArthur fellowship, is nominated for five 2011 JJA Jazz Awards--Musician, Pianist and Composer of the Year, Record of the Year with his album Ten, and for leading the Small Ensemble of the Year, The Bandwagon.

"The finalists for 2011 Jazz Awards prove that jazz is a lifetime music," said Howard Mandel, president of the Jazz Journalists Association, about the ballot. "Get good when you're young, stick with it and the music gets even better."

Octogenerians Muhal Richard Abrams, Jimmy Heath, Paul Motian, 79-year-old Phil Woods and 78-year-old Wayne Shorter are all nominees for the JJA's Lifetime Achievement in Jazz. In addition, Heath and Randy Weston have both written autobiographies nominated for Book of the Year. Trumpet picker Ambrose Akinmusire, saxophonist Darius Jones, pianist Gerald Clayton, and saxophone blower Jon Irabagon are nominated for Up and Coming Artist of the Year. The venerable yet evergreen Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, founded around 1965, and last year's Jazz Awards winning Darcy James Argue's Secret Society, formed in 2006, are nominated for Large Ensemble of the Year along with Wynton Marsalis' Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, Maria Schneider Orchestra and Mingus Big Band.

On the vocal side, crooner Freddie Cole, age 80, faces off with a 38-year-old, new-to-the-scene Gregory Porter, and Kurt Elling, Giacomo Gates and Bobby McFerrin are up for Male Singer of the Year. Female vocalist nominees include Cassandra Wilson, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Gretchen Parlato,Rebecca Martin and Roberta Gambarini.

More than 60 professional JJA members filed JJA nominations over a month-long voting period. Awards are for albums issued or music performed between March 15, 2010 and March 15, 2011, with the exception of awards for Lifetime Achievement Awards for Jazz and in Jazz Journalism. Nominees for Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Journalism Award are Amiri Baraka (also writing as Leroi Jones), Ben Ratliff of the New York Times, author and freelance writer Bill Milkowski, and author/New York Post columnist Stanley Crouch.

The JJA presents an award for Shortform Online Jazz Video of the Year for the first time this year. Nominees in this and in the Photo of the Year category can be seen at jjaJazzAwards.org

The JJA Jazz Awards are the most highly visible jazz honors in the U.S. for recent work; the Awards themselves, engraved statuettes, have become objects of admiration since Awards were first given in 1997.

The JJA's Jazz Awards Gala is a fundraiser for the nonprofit JJA's ongoing operations, which include training of and advocacy for journalists working in all forms of media. At the Gala a coterie of "activists, advocates, aiders and abettors of jazz" who comprise the JJA's "A Team," and roster of community "Jazz Heroes," from around the country, will be introduced. These honorees will be announced in an upcoming press release, as will information about satellite parties held by grass-roots organizers, so far confirmed for Berkeley, Phoenix, Portland Oregon, Seattle and Washington DC.

Tickets for the general public to attend the Jazz Awards Gala at City Winery on June 11 go on sale on May 2, at JJAJazzAwards.org

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