Terri Lyne Carrington Earns History-Making DownBeat Critics Poll Win

Carrington took home three awards in this year’s poll as Berklee alumni, faculty, and students were recognized across multiple categories.

July 9, 2020


Terri Lyne Carrington

Image by Tracy Love

Terri Lyne Carrington, founder and artistic director of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, made history this month as the first woman instrumentalist to win best jazz artist in the DownBeat Critics PollCarrington's band Social Science, which features alumni vocalist Debo Ray ’13 and guitarist Matthew Stevens B.M. ’04, was voted best jazz group, and their 2019 release, Waiting Game, was named the year's top album. 

Berklee alumni were recognized across numerous categories for their artistic output from the past year, including Anat Cohen B.M. ’98 (clarinet), Rudresh Mahanthappa B.M. ’92 (alto saxophone), and Bill Frisell ’77, who won Beyond Album of the Year for 2019's Harmony. The Maria Schneider Orchestra, which currently features alumni Keith O’Quinn ’73 on trumpet and Richard Margitza ’81 on tenor saxophone, was voted best big band. Two alumni took home Rising Star awards: Yuval Cohen B.M. ‘96 (soprano saxophone) and Lage Lund B.M. ‘00 (guitar).  

Kris Davis, associate program director for the Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, tied for top pianist with Kenny Barron, who received an honorary doctorate from the college in 2010. Other Berklee honorary doctorate recipients who won in the DownBeat poll include Zakir Hussain ’19H (percussion), Charles Lloyd ’15H (tenor saxophone), Herbie Hancock ’86H (keyboard), and Frisell ’17H. 

Professor Ralph Peterson and his Gen-Next Big Band won in the Rising Star–Big Band category. Peterson's ensemble consists entirely of current Berklee students and recent graduates, including lead vocalist Chloe Brisson M.M. ’18; trombonists Kuumba Frank Lacy, Brandon Lin, Stephan Tenney B.M. ’20, Dean Scarlett, and Ethan Santos B.M. ’19; trumpeters Robert Vega-Dowda ’17, Yuta Yamagichi B.M. ’19, Milena Casado Faquet B.M. ’19, Will Mallard B.M. ’20, and John Michael Bradford; saxophonists Eric Nakanishi B.M. ’19, Craig Jackson, Solomon Alber, Tim Murphy, Gabe Nekrutman, Morga Faw, and Joe Melnicove B.M. ’18; drummers Christian Napoleon and Samuel Bolduc; bassists Youngchae Jeong B.M. ’18 and Nikos Chatzitsakos B.M. ’20; pianist Ido Hammovich B.M. ’18; and percussionist Manfredi Caputo B.M. ’20.

Read the full list of Berklee-affiliated 2020 DownBeat Critics Poll winners: 

Jazz Artist

Terri Lyne Carrington, Founder and Artistic Director, Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice

Jazz Album

Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science, Waiting Game (Debo Ray ’13, Matthew Stevens B.M. ’04)

Jazz Group

Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science (Debo Ray ’13, Matthew Stevens B.M. ’04)

Big Band

Maria Schneider Orchestra (Keith O’Quinn ’73, Richard Margitza ’81)

Alto Saxophone

Rudresh Mahanthappa B.M. ‘92

Tenor Saxophone

Charles Lloyd ‘15H


Anat Cohen B.M. ‘98


Tie: Kenny Barron ‘10H and Kris Davis, Associate Program Director of Creative Development, Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice


Herbie Hancock ‘86H


Zakir Hussain ‘19H

Beyond Album of the Year

Bill Frisell ’77 ’17H, Harmony

Rising StarBig Band

Ralph Peterson’s Gen-Next Big Band (Ralph Peterson, Professor, Percussion Department; Various Students and Alumni)

Rising StarSoprano Saxophone

Yuval Cohen B.M. ‘96

Rising StarGuitar

Lage Lund B.M. ‘00

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