Sam Newsome

Sam Newsome
"The potential for the saxophone is unlimited." - Steve Lacy

Sunday, June 30, 2013

61st Annual Downbeat Critics Poll

First of all, kudos to Wayne Shorter for winning in the Jazz Artist, Jazz Album, Jazz Group, and Soprano Sax categories.This was definitely the year of Wayne Shorter. I was also happy to see that I got a nice placement in the Soprano Saxophone category. The number four spot is not a bad place to be, especially when the top three spots are occupied by Wayne Shorter, Dave Liebman, and Branford Marsalis. This is especially exciting for me, since I didn't even place in the Soprano Sax category until three years ago. And of course, I was way at the bottom. But hey, I was happy just to be recognized. I played the soprano exclusively for almost five years before critics stop speaking of me as a tenor player who plays the soprano. I imagine at this point, they've realized that I'm never coming back--at least no time soon.

But I would like to thank all of the critics who voted for me. And I'd especially like to give a shout out to all the devotees of the straight-horn who are helping to give the soprano its long overdue presence as a primary instrument and not some secondary horn played by tenor and alto saxophonists on waltzes and straight-eighth ballads.

And I'm purposefully not mentioning the Rising Star category. I think it has become somewhat of a joke over the years. At times, I feel it's treated as a throwaway category. It doesn't seem like much thought goes into who they vote for. But hopefully, if we have enough soprano players putting out recordings and having a real presence, critics will start to vote more responsibly. 

On a more positive note, I'll be featuring the music of some of the aforementioned soprano players in the upcoming weeks. So please keep a look out for that. 

In the meantime, keep recording, keep performing, and keep the straighthorn-bell displayed high and proud!

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