Bob Perkins, Ashley Kahn and Aidan Levy are among JJA Awards winners for Jazz Journalism
Bob Perkins began his career as a radio DJ nearly 60 years ago, and until his final Sunday Jazz Brunch this spring, he was a beacon on the air at WRTI. At 89, he is a living broadcast legend — and as of today, the recipient of an appropriate honor, the Marian McPartland-Willis Conover Award for Career Achievement in Broadcasting.
"I'm glad to see our peers outside of Philadelphia recognize BP for his service to the music," says Josh Jackson, WRTI's associate general manager. "He's spent six decades keeping audiences engaged and listening, and this honor makes a worthy capstone to a remarkable career."
Perkins' accolade was announced as part of the 28th Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Awards, or JJA Awards, which are decided through a nomination and voting process among professional members of the JJA.
Among the other journalism winners in this year's JJA Awards are author Ashley Kahn, for Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Journalism; editor Willard Jenkins, for Book of the Year About Jazz: History, Criticism and Culture (Ain't But a Few of Us: Black Music Writers Tell Their Story); and Aidan Levy, who won Biography / Autobiography of the Year (for Saxophone Colossus: The Life and Music of Sonny Rollins) and the Robert Palmer-Helen Oakley Dance Award for Excellence in Writing in 2022.
"Sonny has always used the occasion of any award to give recognition to others in the jazz community and the giants whose shoulders he stands on," says Levy. "For me, that pantheon includes my fellow nominees for the Robert Palmer-Helen Oakley Dance Award, Ted Gioia and Nate Chinen, both past winners who have tirelessly chronicled, championed, and pushed this art form forward through their incisive criticism."
Earlier this year, Chinen interviewed Levy — a resident of Lancaster, PA, where he listens to WRTI at 106.3FM — in a book talk for the Free Library of Philadelphia.
Another double winner this year is Lauren Deutsch, who received the Lona Foote-Bob Parent Award for Career Achievement in Photography as well as Photo of the Year, for a shot of bassist William Parker at the Chicago Jazz Festival. Documentary of the Year About Jazz went to Ron Carter: Finding the Right Notes, and Blog of the Year went to Jazz Beyond Jazz, an ArtsJournal blog by JJA president Howard Mandel.
Podcast of the Year was claimed by The Buzz: The JJA Podcast. And in a recently created category, Live-Stream Producer of the Year went to Live From Emmet's Place, the ever-popular series created by pianist Emmet Cohen.
The JJA Awards also honors a number of Jazz Heroes — "advocates who have had significant impact in their local communities," as determined by public nominations. The 2023 Jazz Heroes include Homer Jackson, director of the Philadelphia Jazz Project; Gail Austin and Mensah Wali, who run the Kente Arts Alliance in Pittsburgh; and producer Brice Rosenbloom, whose BOOM Collective presents the Winter Jazzfest.
The JJA Awards also confer accolades for Jazz Performance and Recordings. To learn more about those honorees, read our coverage.