Meet your 2019 jazz JUNO winners

Congratulations to this year’s crop of JUNO Award winners in the three jazz categories!

Although the JUNOs have a long, rich history of recognizing Canadian jazz talent – with luminaries like Oscar Peterson, Oliver Jones, Holly Cole, and Diana Krall among the honourees – the current configuration of award categories is fairly recent.

From 1997-1993, a single JUNO was awarded for Best Jazz Album. That was split into separate categories for contemporary and traditional jazz in 1994. In 2000, a third category was added for vocal jazz, and since 2015, the awards have been renamed as follows: Vocal Jazz Album of the Year, Jazz Album of the Year - Solo, and Jazz Album of the Year - Group.

Here are 2019’s winners.

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Robi Botos

Jazz Album of the Year - Solo

Hungarian-Canadian pianist Robi Botos is no stranger to accolades. Since moving to Canada in 1998, he’s been a prominent member of Toronto’s jazz scene, collecting armfuls of awards, including the 2016 JUNO in the solo category.

The last protege of late Canadian jazz icon Oscar Peterson, Botos’ latest album, Old Soul, sees him venturing into genres like funk, soul and gospel, while staying true to his jazz roots with longtime collaborators like Mike Downes and Larnell Lewis.

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Andy Milne &
Dapp Theory

Jazz Album of the Year - Group

Canadian-born, New York-based pianist and composer Andy Milne has an extensive resume, working with the likes of Ravi Coltrane and Cassandra Wilson, as well as scoring a series of documentaries by famed actor/director William Shatner.

With his group, Dapp Theory, Milne combines his piano chops with polyrhythmic experiments, funk, spoken word, and more. Their latest release, The Seasons of Being, expands the five-piece Dapp Theory lineup to a 10-member group, including strings, horns and vocals.

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Laila Biali

Vocal Jazz Album of the Year

Singer-songwriter and pianist Laila Biali actually had two chances to win in the vocal category – her self-titled solo record (the winner) and her collaboration with bassist Jodi Proznick were both up for vocal jazz JUNOs.

Biali has recorded and toured with international icons like Sting and Paula Cole, and after years as a jazz artist, she’s in the process of making a shift over to the pop idiom, while maintaining the improvisational elements she’s built a career around.

Sam Thompson