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2021 JJA Jazz Awards Winners Announced

Of women Jazz Awards winners, Schneider and Carrington were honorees in 2020.

2021 JJA Jazz Awards Winners Announced

Master musician and educator Ron Carter, often credited as jazz's most recorded bassist, and author Kevin Whitehead, long-running jazz critic on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, have won Lifetime Achievement Awards in the 2021 Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Awards, announced today.

As trending in the greater jazz community, creative women earned significant recognition: Composer-orchestra leader Maria Schneider, whose album Data Lords (ArtistShare) is Record of the Year, and drummer-producer educator Terri Lyne Carrington, Jazz Musician of the Year, won multiple awards. Women prevailed in several other instrumentalists' categories, too.

See all results of JJA members' 25th annual voting in 47 categories that honor writers, photographers, broadcasters, books, documentaries, podcasts and live-stream productions as well as musicians' achievements, at

Ron Carter, celebrated for his Lifetime Achievement in Jazz, is renown for his own albums and ensembles as well as collaborations on the double bass viol with Miles Davis and Eric Dolphy, among others; for advancing the cello and introducing the piccolo bass to jazz; for 20 years in the music department at the City College of New York, where he is now a Distinguished Professor Emeritus, and for his active support for the Jazz Foundation of America.

Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Journalism winner Kevin Whitehead, whose study Play The Way You Feel: The Essential Guide to Jazz Stories on Film, was nominated for Best Book of the Year about Jazz, also has written New Dutch Swing, Why Jazz? A Concise Guide, numerous articles for international publications as well some 750 on-air reviews since 1987, and has taught jazz history at the University of Kansas and Towson University.

Of women Jazz Awards winners, Schneider and Carrington were honorees in 2020, as were 2021's Female Vocalist of the Year Cécile McLorin Salvant, Pianist of the Year Kris Davis, Clarinetist of the Year Anat Cohen, Flutist of the Year Nicole Mitchell, Strings Player of the Year harpist Brandee Younger, and Bassist of the Year Linda May Han Oh. The women's all-star group Artemis (Mid-Sized Ensemble of the Year), pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn (Player of Instruments Rare in Jazz), the trio Duchess (Jazz Vocal Group) are new top vote getters.

Of course, male musicians are not excluded: Veterans getting Awards include Tenor Saxophonist of the Year Charles Lloyd, Alto Saxophonist of the Year Gary Bartz, Baritone Saxophonist and Multi-Reeds Player of the Year Scott Robinson, Trombonist of the Year Wycliffe Gordon, Male Vocalist of the Year Kurt Elling, Electric Basssist of the Year Steve Swallow, and Guitarist of the Year Bill Frisell (with bassist Thomas Morgan in the Duo of the Year). Youthful pianist Emmet Cohen, Up and Coming Musician of the Year and Mallet Instrumentalist of the Year Joel Ross, also won.

Other highlights: Billie, James Erskine's film on singer Billie Holiday, won the first JJA Award for Jazz Coumentary. Book of the Year about Jazz went to Life in E Flat: The Autobiography of Phil Woods (Cymbal Press), written with Ted Panken, recipient of this year's Robert Palmer-Helen Oakley Dance Award for Writing. WBGO Music Director Gary Walker won the Marian McPartland-Willis Conover Award for Career Excellence in Broadcasting, and Steven Sussman won the Lona Foote-Bob Parent Award for Career Excellence in Photography.

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