I remember election night 2004 very clearly. After four completely incompetent years of GWB, I just knew there was no way this country could re-elect him. I knew the polls showed a close race, but I had faith that my fellow voters would see things the same way as me. How couldn’t they?
Of course, I was shocked and disappointed when the idiot was re-elected. I felt we were in for a long four years, and boy was I right. But another feeling set in as well, a question that I just couldn’t shake: How could I be so disconnected? How could all of these millions of people see some quality in this guy that I was completely blind to?
Its the same feeling I felt when I read this year’s Down Beat reader’s poll.
The results of that tragedy aren’t up on their website yet (out of shame?), but the lowlights include Herbie being named best pianist in what was clearly the year of Jason Moran (he finished 10th), Wynton winning best trumpeter over Christian Scott (9th place) and Pat Metheny being named best guitarist over Nels Cline (did not place!!). The one that really killed me, however, was the Dave Brubeck Quartet winning best Jazz Group.
Yeah, that Dave Brubeck. He had a big year, for sure. Kennedy Center Honors, headlining spot at Newport, but there was something missing that, in my opinion, should be kinda crucial for a Best Jazz Group winner. Namely, a new album. In fact, he hasn’t released a new album since 2007.
But it’s not Brubeck’s fault he was voted the winner, it’s the the voters’. In a year that featured amazing, original works by many artists, young and old, the largest number of votes for this award went to a mostly inactive legend. What is clear is that this award had much more to do with the voters than the candidates, that the winners were more of a reflection of the slim section of jazz fans who voted than it was a picture of the current state of the music at large.
So, really, I should just ignore it. Clearly the other readers of Down Beat are not on the same page as me. I should just move on and enjoy the best of lists on Nextbop or the many lists pulled together by A Blog Supreme. But why should I? This isn’t just some website or blog we’re talking about here, this is Down Beat. This is the un-official official record of jazz. And I know, just like I did that November in 2004, that we have the larger voice. We just need to speak together.
So, in August of 2011, when Down Beat opens the polls for next year’s awards, I will begin campaigning for the artists I love. I will harass everyone I know who loves the music I do to vote for their favorites. Can we get The Bad Plus named best group? Can Jamire Williams be named best drummer? Of course. We just need to get out the vote.