[Dixielandjazz] Mo Blues U can Use - JAZZ POLLS history

Nancy Giffin nancyink at ulink.net
Tue Jul 20 09:46:44 PDT 2004

Referring to the big Playboy International Jazz Poll, Bob Williams asked:

>  Isn't this the same jazz poll in which Paul McCartney repeatedly won Best
Bass Player?  <

Hi, Bob and Rev. Tom-Bob,
The Playboy Jazz Poll seems to have outlived its usefulness. This excerpt
from an article in Wholenote Magazine (March 2004) cites a few odd winners.
It also gives a little history about jazz polls in general:

... Jazz polls are almost as old as Downbeat Magazine, which was first
published in 1934, and I thought it might be interesting to look back and do
a little "pollen" count.

Gone but not quite forgotten is Metronome Magazine, which used to vie with
Downbeat for the cachet of being the most popular jazz mag. But jazz polls
were not confined to music publications and in the 1940s Esquire Magazine
added an annual jazz poll to its, for the day, spicy pages. Louis Armstrong
won the first Esquire Jazz Band Poll for trumpet, Coleman Hawkins for tenor
sax and Billie Holiday was vocalist of the year. This led to the first jazz
concert ever given at the Metropolitan Opera House. (It was recorded, but
not released in the States, eventually being made available years later in

Playboy Magazine got into the act as well, but on a few occasions came up
with some "interesting" winners - this was a jazz poll remember- such as
Henry Mancini for bandleader, 1964-66, Barbra Streisand, female vocalist,
1965-66 and my favourite, Peter, Paul and Mary in the vocal group category,
It is less widely known that in 1930 the tabloid New York Daily Mirror began
running a contest to poll its readers about which was the most popular radio
orchestra. Enter Ozzie Nelson - yes, Ricky Nelson's father.At the time,
Ozzie Nelson led  one of the most popular swing and dance bands in the New
York area - Downbeat praised the band for its "subtle suggestion of melodic
beauty and rhythmic patterns" - and in 1930  he had his own radio show.  The
radio station did its best to promote him in the Daily Mirror poll, but he
was up against the nationally famous Rudy Vallee as well as the
self-proclaimed "King of Jazz", Paul Whiteman.

Ozzie's manager found out that dealers received credit for unsold papers by
returning only the front pages of the unbought copies. Now, the ballot forms
were on the back page of the Mirror, so Nelson's manager managed to get his
hands on hundreds of back pages from unsold copies and sent in the ballots!
Guess who won.  As a result the band landed some prestigious engagements and
a series of national network broadcasts. Ozzie Nelson's band was made! All a
matter of opinion...

(Copied from an article by Jim Galloway)

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