New Orleans gets Downbeat Critics Poll love

I just received the August 2011 issue of Downbeat Magazine, which contains their Critics Poll results. I have long been ambivalent about magazine polls. There is no doubt that being listing in these polls is a good thing, but there are always so many good musicians who deserve to be listed and are not. Of course there are the usual silly results, like people appearing in the main category and the rising star version, such as Nicole Mitchell who won both categories on flute this year. Then there is Julian Priester appearing in the Rising Star Trombone category. Mr. Priester is near 70 years old, and is on some truly classic recordings. His star has been risen for some time now. In spite of these peculiarities, it is still an honor to make one of these lists. I write all of this to set up this post about how much love New Orleans musicians got in this year’s Downbeat Critics Poll.

Of course this post about New Orleans musicians in the poll is just an excuse to mention that I am listed in the Rising Star Trombone category this year. While I could name a number of other trombone players whose work I admire greatly who are not on the list, it does feel good to know that people are noticing what I am doing. And apparently some other New Orleans musicians are getting noticed as well.

Critics poll

We have our already world renowned musicians who still live in New Orleans, like Terence Blanchard, Herlin Riley, and Nicholas Payton, who got their expected mentions in the Jazz Group, Drums, and Trumpets lists. Our clarinet scene is well represented by Evan Christopher, Dr. Michael White, and Tim Laughlin. NOLA placed 3 trombonists in 4 spots on the Trombone and Rising Star Trombone lists. Delfeayo Marsalis and Trombone Shorty made the grown-ups tableTrombone list, and Trombone Shorty and I were at the kid’s table on the Rising Star Trombone list. It was also nice to see Kidd Jordan get some critic’s love, along with Jason Marsalis on vibes, John Boutté (Rising Star Male Vocalist), and Matt Perrine on sousaphone. I was especially pleased to see Jonathan Freilich on the Rising Star Guitar list and Aurora Nealand on the Rising Star Soprano Saxophone list, both well deserved.

The magazine lists the critics who vote in the poll, and I believe that only two of the voters in this year’s poll are New Orleans residents. The way the scoring works, one must appear on the ballots of at least three critics to make the list, so it is nice to know that critics from outside of New Orleans are aware of what we are doing here, and not just the stereotypical “New Orleans Music” version of what we are doing here, but some of the more creative aspects as well. I got 32 points, which means that at least six critics had my name on their ballot. To those of you who have noticed what I have been doing, thank you, I deeply appreciate the attention.

I hope I can handle the huge influx of CD orders. That is what happens after one makes one of these lists, right?