Mary Halvorson, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Rhiannon Giddens Win in DownBeat Critics Poll

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The 71st DownBeat Critics Poll results are in, and among the winners are Mary Halvorson, Cécile McLorin Salvant, and Rhiannon Giddens. Halvorson’s Nonesuch debut albums, Amaryllis & Belladonna, have been named Jazz Album of the Year, and Halvorson herself Guitarist of the Year; Salvant is Female Vocalist of the Year; and Giddens has won in the Beyond Artist or Group field.

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The 71st DownBeat Critics Poll results are in, and among the winners are three Nonesuch artists and MacArthur fellows: Mary Halvorson, Cécile McLorin Salvant, and Rhiannon Giddens. Halvorson’s Nonesuch debut albums, Amaryllis & Belladonna, have been named Jazz Album of the Year, and Halvorson herself is Guitarist of the Year; Salvant has been named Female Vocalist of the Year; and Giddens has won in the Beyond Artist or Group field.

Brooklyn-based guitarist, and composer Mary Halvorson made her Nonesuch debut with Amaryllis & Belladonna last year. The two suites, which Halvorson describes as “modular and interlocking,” come in a two-LP vinyl set or as two separate CDs and digital albums, produced and mixed by John Dieterich, that Jazziz calls "some of the most accomplished writing of Halvorson’s meteoric career." Amaryllis is a six-song suite performed by a newly formed sextet of master improvisers; the Mivos string quartet joins for three of the songs, making this the largest ensemble for which Halvorson has written to date. Belladonna is a set of five compositions written for Halvorson on guitar plus the Mivos Quartet, whose parts are through-composed and augmented by Halvorson’s guitar improvisations.

Cécile McLorin Salvant’s new album, Mélusine, is a mix of originals and interpretations of songs dating as far back as the 12th century, mostly sung in French along with Occitan, English, and Haitian Kreyòl. They tell the folk tale of Mélusine, a woman who turns into a half-snake each Saturday after a childhood curse by her mother. "Anyone who thinks they already know the full extent of Cécile McLorin Salvant's artistry should listen to Mélusine without further delay," exclaims Jazzwise. "It's a remarkable recording in several respects. Beautifully recorded, Salvant continues to confound and delight at every turn."

Rhiannon Giddens, who recently won the Pulitzer Prize for Omar, her opera with Michael Abels, releases You’re the One, her third solo studio album and her first of all original songs, on August 18. This collection of twelve tunes written over the course of her career bursts with life-affirming energy, drawing from the folk music she knows so deeply and its pop descendants. The album was produced by Jack Splash (Kendrick Lamar, Solange, Alicia Keys, Valerie June) and recorded with an ensemble including Giddens' closest musical collaborators from the past decade, a string section, and Miami Horns. The lone featured guest on the album is Jason Isbell on “Yet to Be.”

Congratulations as well to Christian McBride, who has been named Bassist of the Year; he can be heard with Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, and Brian Blade on the 2022 Nonesuch album LongGone, the follow-up to their albums RoundAgain and MoodSwing.

You can find the complete results of the 71st DownBeat Critics Poll in the August issue of the magazine, out now via downbeat.com.

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DownBeat Critics Poll 2023: Mary Halvorson, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Rhiannon Giddens
  • Friday, July 7, 2023
    Mary Halvorson, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Rhiannon Giddens Win in DownBeat Critics Poll

    The 71st DownBeat Critics Poll results are in, and among the winners are three Nonesuch artists and MacArthur fellows: Mary Halvorson, Cécile McLorin Salvant, and Rhiannon Giddens. Halvorson’s Nonesuch debut albums, Amaryllis & Belladonna, have been named Jazz Album of the Year, and Halvorson herself is Guitarist of the Year; Salvant has been named Female Vocalist of the Year; and Giddens has won in the Beyond Artist or Group field.

    Brooklyn-based guitarist, and composer Mary Halvorson made her Nonesuch debut with Amaryllis & Belladonna last year. The two suites, which Halvorson describes as “modular and interlocking,” come in a two-LP vinyl set or as two separate CDs and digital albums, produced and mixed by John Dieterich, that Jazziz calls "some of the most accomplished writing of Halvorson’s meteoric career." Amaryllis is a six-song suite performed by a newly formed sextet of master improvisers; the Mivos string quartet joins for three of the songs, making this the largest ensemble for which Halvorson has written to date. Belladonna is a set of five compositions written for Halvorson on guitar plus the Mivos Quartet, whose parts are through-composed and augmented by Halvorson’s guitar improvisations.

    Cécile McLorin Salvant’s new album, Mélusine, is a mix of originals and interpretations of songs dating as far back as the 12th century, mostly sung in French along with Occitan, English, and Haitian Kreyòl. They tell the folk tale of Mélusine, a woman who turns into a half-snake each Saturday after a childhood curse by her mother. "Anyone who thinks they already know the full extent of Cécile McLorin Salvant's artistry should listen to Mélusine without further delay," exclaims Jazzwise. "It's a remarkable recording in several respects. Beautifully recorded, Salvant continues to confound and delight at every turn."

    Rhiannon Giddens, who recently won the Pulitzer Prize for Omar, her opera with Michael Abels, releases You’re the One, her third solo studio album and her first of all original songs, on August 18. This collection of twelve tunes written over the course of her career bursts with life-affirming energy, drawing from the folk music she knows so deeply and its pop descendants. The album was produced by Jack Splash (Kendrick Lamar, Solange, Alicia Keys, Valerie June) and recorded with an ensemble including Giddens' closest musical collaborators from the past decade, a string section, and Miami Horns. The lone featured guest on the album is Jason Isbell on “Yet to Be.”

    Congratulations as well to Christian McBride, who has been named Bassist of the Year; he can be heard with Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, and Brian Blade on the 2022 Nonesuch album LongGone, the follow-up to their albums RoundAgain and MoodSwing.

    You can find the complete results of the 71st DownBeat Critics Poll in the August issue of the magazine, out now via downbeat.com.

    Journal Articles:Artist News

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