Toronto saxophonist Allison Au now has a perfect JUNO record: two albums, two JUNOs. This evening, she was awarded 2016 JUNO Award for Jazz Album of the Year (Group) for her new release of multi-layered original music, Forest Grove. She had previously won a JUNO for her debut album in 2013. Ottawa-area audiences heard Au performing a number of the pieces from Forest Grove at Merrickville's Jazzfest last October.
Toronto pianist Robi Botos won Jazz Album of the Year (Solo) for Movin' Forward, his propulsive combination of originals and standards supported by a strong combination of NYC musicians (saxophonist Seamus Blake, bassist Robert Leslie Hurst III, and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts). That music was very warmly received when Botos presented it at last summer's Ottawa Jazz Festival.
And Montreal-based vocalist Emilie-Claire Barlow won Vocal Jazz Album of the Year, for Clear Day, her music-in-the-large orchestral project with the Metropole Orkestre. She presented several selections from that album in her concert with the NAC Orchestra last December, and will present it again with orchestra at this summer's Montreal Jazz Festival. She also won a JUNO for her previous album, Seule Ce Soir, in 2013.
Au and Botos were later featured together in a JUNO Jazz All-Stars performance at the JUNO awards banquet in Calgary, along with fellow nominee Al Muirhead on trumpet.
Montreal saxophonist Colin Neufeld and violinist Sarah Neufeld won Instrumental Album of the Year for their joint album, Never Were The Way She Was. Stetson is acclaimed in the jazz community for his improvisations, particularly on bass saxophone, but also plays with many indie groups. He and Neufeld are scheduled to perform together at this summer's Ottawa Jazz Festival.
Ottawa group The Souljazz Orchestra were nominated for World Music Album of the Year for Resistance, but were beaten out by Boogat.
The winners in most JUNO categories were announced this evening, but the most high-profile pop/rock categories will be announced Sunday.
Read the full list of 2016 nominees in the jazz-related categories.
– Brett Delmage
Disclosure: OttawaJazzScene.ca Editor Alayne McGregor was a JUNO judge this year in the Jazz Album of the Year (Solo) category.
Watch OttawaJazzScene.ca's video of Robi Botos' earlier success: