I was unable to be in Toronto at noontime on Thursday to accept the Journalist of the Year award at the National Jazz Awards, so I wanted to use this space to thank everyone who voted for me and, particularly, the editors I have worked with in the past year: Pete Gershon, who welcomed me into the family at Signal To Noise in 2008; Aaron Cohen, associate editor at DownBeat; and Jason Koransky, who has edited DownBeat for the past decade. Jason is leaving his post this week to pursue a career in law, so I want to make special mention of him for giving me some great assignments over the past 10 years.
The jazz community in Canada is small enough that it's possible to have at least a passing acquaintance with almost everyone in it, and that extends to the journalists who report on the music. Several of the contenders for the award are friends. Len Dobbin always greets me with a warm hug when we meet, and his stories from the heyday of bop are welcome touchstones to earlier generations of jazz musicians. I shared the jazz columnist duties at the Ottawa Citizen with Peter Hum for 10 years and have watched happily as he has gained a larger audience for both his writing—his blog is one of the best in the business—and his piano playing. Mark Miller is one of my personal heroes—not just for his keen critical eye/ear and elegant writing, but for his tireless ability to get jazz into the editorial mix at the Globe and Mail for decades.
Thanks, as well, to Bill King, who has worked very hard to transform the National Jazz Awards into a truly pan-Canadian awards program. Clearly, there is still a lot of room for more recognition of artists from Atlantic Canada, Quebec and the western provinces, but with more than 7200 online voters the NJAs have taken a big jump this year. Bill is a strong cheerleader for jazz in this country, and his annual showcase covered a nice arc of generations, from Montreal icon Vic Vogel to bright light Darcy James Argue.