SFJAZZ.org | 2019 DownBeat Winner

DownBeat Award Winners Announced:
SFJAZZ 2019-20 Season Artists HEAVILY represented

June 27, 2019 | by Monisha Sharma

Cecile McLorin Salvant'Jazz Artist' & 'Female Vocalist'

Since her emergence a decade ago, Cécile McLorin Salvant has tapped into a line of classic jazz vocalists: Bessie Smith, Betty Carter, Abbey Lincoln. Her voice is startlingly expressive and rich, with a capacious lower register that brings to mind Sarah Vaughan. Now, at age 30, Salvant has blossomed into an artist and composer with her own unique vision. The evidence is to be found in Ogresse, her new 90-minute song cycle, which she brings to SFJAZZ SEP 6SEP 9 for a performance that should prove as stunning as her debut here in 2013.

Maria Schneider'Composer', 'arranger' & 'big band'
Maria schneider 

A Minnesota native, Schneider attended the Eastman School of Music before moving to Manhattan where she was mentored by legendary jazz arrangers Gil Evans and Bob Brookmeyer. In the early ‘90s, she formed the Maria Schneider Orchestra and began to receive accolades for her recordings, including Concert in the Garden, Sky Blue and The Thompson Fields, all resplendent with billowing Ravel-like textures. Maria performs at SFJAZZ on APR 16.

Miguel Zenon'alto saxophone'
Miguel Zenón

During his 15 seasons with the SFJAZZ Collective, Zenón emerged as “one of the important contemporary revisers of Latin jazz” (The New York Times). Combining his deep knowledge of Caribbean folk forms and grooves with advanced compositional techniques, he now ranks among the most uniquely ambitious composers in all of jazz. A native of Puerto Rico and a longtime New Yorker, Zenón is a master of polyrhythms. As National Public Radio once stated it in a report, he “likes to stack beats on top of each other. But he doesn’t do it for the novelty. As he explains, he’s also trying to tell a story about multiple national identities.” Zenón performs at SFJAZZ from MAY 78.

Joe Lovano'tenor saxophone'
joe lovano

Joe Lovano has toured with Woody Herman’s big band, mastered the bebop vocabulary of Charlie Parker, explored the songbooks of Enrico Caruso and Frank Sinatra, and ventured into what he calls the “the inner world of sound” with percussion master Paul Motian. His projects are many, but they are never “just coat hangers; he personalizes them into some of the most generous, liberating music out there,” says The New York Times. Lovano will be Resident Artistic Director at SFJAZZ from MAR 1417. 

 Anat Cohen'clarinet' & 'rising star-big band'
anat cohen

At the leading edge of a wave of brilliant Israeli improvisers who have energized the New York jazz scene over the past two decades, Anat Cohen is the most acclaimed clarinetist of her generation and a commanding tenor saxophonist. She’s recorded seven diverse sessions under her own name and four with her brothers Avishai and Yuval as the 3 Cohens. From APR 1012, Anat will be performing with an all-star superband of modern jazz masters at SFJAZZ: Renee Rosnes, Ingrid Jensen, Melissa Aldana, Noriko Ueda, and Allison Miller. 

Kenny Barron'piano'
kenny barron

Kenny Barron helped define and extend the jazz tradition since his work with Dizzy Gillespie in the early ‘60s, and crucial stints with Freddie Hubbard, Yusef Lateef, Stan Getz, James Moody and Ron Carter built his peerless reputation as a sideman. He has recorded nearly 50 albums as a bandleader over his five-decade career, including seven sessions with Sphere, the celebrated quartet featuring former Monk band veterans Charlie Rouse and Ben Riley. Barron performs for and curates this celebration of jazz legend Thelonious Monk’s 102nd birthday with a stellar cast of guest musicians from NOV 811.

 Joey DeFrancesco'organ'
Joey defrancesco

Son of organ master “Papa” John DeFrancesco and protégé of the great Jimmy Smith, DeFrancesco was “discovered” at 17 by Miles Davis and remains the most virtuosic and electrifying organist in jazz, recording over 30 albums. In addition to his incomparable skill as an organist, DeFrancesco is also an accomplished trumpeter and vocalist. Joey DeFrancesco will play with Chucho Valdes during Valdes’ residency at SFJAZZ on OCT 3. 

 Christian McBride'bass'
Christian mcbride

“One of the premier musicians of his generation” (DownBeat), bassist Christian McBride is widely regarded as the standard-bearer for jazz bassists in the 21st century, and is among the most recorded artists in modern music. A former SFJAZZ Resident Artistic Director, he’s led a procession of diverse groups since the mid-90s, but until 2011’s The Good Feeling, McBride had never recorded an album with his own big band. He returns to SFJAZZ on SEP 29 with his double GRAMMY-winning Big Band, making the West Coast premiere of their latest project on the heels of their 2018 Best Large Ensemble Jazz Album GRAMMY for 2017’s Bringin’ It.

Regina Carter'violin'
regina carter 

“Taking the listener into the future of jazz” (TIME), virtuoso violinist Carter is a MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient who has almost single-handedly revived the role of the violin in modern jazz. Carter’s muse has led her from European classical music to bebop, Southern blues and Afro-Cuban folk forms. That’s why Chucho Valdes – who calls her “a genius of the violin” – asked her to record with him on Jazz Bata 2. Carter will perform with Valdes during his SFJAZZ residency OCT 6.

Brian Blade'drums'
Brian Blade

Easily one of the most versatile and soulful musicians in jazz, the Shreveport, Louisiana-born Blade formed his Fellowship band in 1997, releasing five increasingly accomplished sessions for Blue Note. In 2000, Blade began his most visible and fruitful partnership as a member of jazz legend Wayne Shorter’s all-star quartet, touring the world and recording five albums with the saxophonist including a trio of GRAMMY winners, 2005’s Beyond the Sound Barrier, 2013’s Without a Net,and 2018’s expansive triple-disc release Emanon. He presents the West Coast premiere of his new sextet project Life Cycles at SFJAZZ on SEP 28, in tribute to the late vibraphonist and jazz legend Bobby Hutcherson.

Stefon Harris'vibraphone'
stefon harris

Recognized as “the real deal” at a young age, Harris performed with Joe Henderson, Wynton Marsalis, Buster Williams, Kenny Barron, Cassandra Wilson and many other legends – and made his recording debut as a leader on Blue Note Records in 1998, when he was only 25. Winner of “best vibraphonist” awards in DownBeat and JazzTimes polls, Harris has gone on to become a mentor to a new generation of players, both on the bandstand and in academia. Harris performs at SFJAZZ FEB 13FEB 16.

Manfred Eicher'record label' - ECM
'producer' - Manfred eicher

Named with initials standing for “Edition of Contemporary Music,” founder Manfred Eicher’s Munich-based imprint has represented the leading edge of innovation for five decades and over 1600 individual releases, blurring lines between genres and championing both established masters and young visionaries. We will celebrate the ECM 50th anniversary this year from OCT 2427. 

Rhiannon Giddens'beyond artist or group'
Rhiannon giddens

Rhiannon Giddens has assimilated a rich diversity of music traditions, from the country songs of her youth and the world of opera she was immersed in at Ohio’s Oberlin Conservatory to Celtic music and the gamut of African American song styles with roots in the Piedmont and the whole of the rural South. The singer, violinist, banjo player, GRAMMY winner, and front woman of the Carolina Chocolate Drops returns to SFJAZZ with music from her latest Nonesuch album, There Is No Other, tracing the influence of Africa and the Middle East on the musical traditions of Europe and the Americas. She performs at SFJAZZ from FEB 13FEB 16. 

Sons of Kemet'Rising star jazz group' - sons of kemet
'rising star clarinet' - shabaka hutchings
'rising star miscellaneous instrument' - Theon Cross

In recent years, the most vital, inclusive, and innovative jazz scene on earth has shifted east across the Atlantic to London, and the figure that stands atop this revolution is saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings and his band Sons of Kemet. A multi-faceted instrumentalist and composer whose influence has spread far beyond the U.K., Hutchings leads the collaborative octet Shabaka and the Ancestors with a group of South African musicians and the electro-acoustic Afrofuturist trio Comet is Coming, but Sons of Kemet remains Hutchings’ longest running and most personal creative outlet. Sons of Kemet performs at SFJAZZ on SEP 23.

Natalie Cressman'rising star trombone'
natalie cressman

Bay Area-born Natalie Cressman is a sublimely talented young trombonist and vocalist versed in jazz, Brazilian music and the Afro-Cuban tradition. A virtuosic instrumentalist and gifted singer, she’s a former member of the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars who has made good on her prodigious beginnings, working with a diverse range of artists including salsa icon Pete Escovedo’s Latin Jazz Orchestra, world music giant Jai Uttal and the Pagan Love Orchestra, and iconoclastic multi-instrumentalist Peter Apfelbaum. Natalie will perform at SFJAZZ on DEC 8.

Allison Miller'rising star drums'
allison miller

New York-based drummer Allison Miller is a masterful musician and composer who leads the celebrated band Boom-Tic-Boom and has worked with artists including Ani DiFranco, Natalie Merchant, and Virginia Mayhew. She’s led eight recordings including her latest, Glitter Wolf. She performs in the Jazz Supergroup Artemis from APR 1012.