Tesser may be best known as program host and producer of Miles Ahead and Listen Here!, independently syndicated daily radio programs; as a contributor to publications including the Chicago Reader, USA Today and the Examiner.com; as a 2014 Grammy winner for his liner notes to John Coltrane’s Afro Blue Impressions, and as author of The Playboy Guide to Jazz. He joins a distinguished roll call of Lifetime in Jazz Journalism honorees: Stanley Dance, Nat Hentoff, Dan Morgenstern, Ira Gitler, Gary Giddins, Gene Lees, Bob Blumenthal, Howard Mandel, Francis Davis, Doug Ramsey, Mike Zwerin, Don Heckman, Bill Milkowski, Amiri Baraka, Willard Jenkins and W. Royal Stokes.
Other recipients of 2015 JJA Jazz Awards in media categories included Wall Street Journal contributor Marc Myers for his blog Jazz Wax; Herbie Hancock and Lisa Dickey for their book Herbie Hancock: Possibilities; Ashley Kahn for his liner notes to John Coltrane’s Offering: Live at Temple U (Resonance Records); Nate Chinen, columnist for JazzTimes and contributor to the New York Times for excellence in writing; Brandon Bain for the video “#We Can’t Breathe: A Peaceful Protest”; Andrea Palmucci for his photograph of pianist Kenny Barron with bassist Dave Holland, Christian McBride, program host of “Jazz Night In America,” a collaboration of WBGO, Jazz at Lincoln Center and National Public Radio, Jazz Times Magazine (best print publication) and All About Jazz (best website). Winners of all 2015 Jazz Awards, including those for musicians in instrumental categories, are posted here.
The 19th annual JJA Jazz Awards was a public event attended by writers, photographers, broadcasters, videographers, new media professionals as well as a noted international cadre of musicians, presenters, producers, agents and publicists. An introductory fanfare was performed by the West African duo Fula Flute (Bailo Bah and Sylvain Leroux); singer Antoinette Monaco performed a swinging medley around the theme “Jazz Woman to the Rescue,” accompanied by pianist Danny Mixon; bassist-singer Mimi Jones’ led a quintet featuring Mark Shim on electronic wind controller, keyboardist Miki Hayama and guitarist Marvin Sewell.
Howard Mandel, president of the Jazz Journalists Association (a non-profit 501 (c) 3 professional organization), remarked on the event’s tri-fold focus: Women in jazz, the music’s African roots, and jazz pianists. The JJA’s New York City Jazz Hero, bassist and Women Got Chops Fest organizer Kim Clarke, received her award from JJA development director Susan Brink; MCs were freelancer writer and broadcaster Angelika Beener and Linda Yohn, music director of WEMU Ypsilanti MI. Besides Weston—widely credited for connecting jazz to Africa, and the composer of “African Lady,” arranged by the late Melba Liston, a recording of which was played during the ceremonies—pianist Jason Moran was on hand to accept his Award as Musician of the Year; pianist Arturo O’Farrill was lauded for his Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra; pianist Geri Allen observed from a front table, Greg “Organ Monk” Lewis worked the room, and the JJA’s Pianist of the Year, Kenny Barron, also took home Awards for Duo of the Year—his partner is bassist Dave Holland—and Record of the Year, Barron and Holland’s The Art of Conversation.
Other musician winners of Jazz Awards will receive their engraved statuettes at their concerts around the U.S. this summer. Sponsors of the Jazz Awards initivate the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable, Jazz at Lincoln Center, BMI, Berklee College of Music, the New School Jazz Program, the Jazz Institute of Chicago, SFJazz, MCG Jazz, Earshot Jazz, the Jazz Foundation of America, Mack Avenue, Motema Music, ECM, Sunnyside, Thirsty Ear, Resonance and Mosaic Records, independent publicists Ann Braithwaite, Scott Thompson, and Jim Eigo; the Estate of Miles Davis, Minton’s and Brother Thelonious Belgian Abbey Ale. Publicists Carolyn McClair, a JJA board member, welcomed ticket holders and guests; Jana LaSorte worked as stage manager.