Juno Awards 2022: Avataar, Caity Gyorgy, Will Bonness among first-time winners

Jazz artists Caity Gyorgy, Will Bonness and Avataar are among the winners of the 51st annual Juno Awards.

It’s the first time any of these acts have won a Juno; they were among the 105 first-time nominees this year.

Toronto-based world-jazz ensemble Avataar won the award for vocal jazz album of the year (group) for their album WORLDVIEW. Led by saxophonist Sundar Viswanathan, the sextet features vocalist Felicity Williams, guitarist Michael Occhipinti, bassist Justin Gray, tabla player Ravi Naimpally and drummer Max Senitt. The record also has contributions from Aaron Lightstone on oud and Todd Pentney on keys.

(Lightstone, a music therapist and educator, leads JAZZ.FM91’s Music Therapy program at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.)

Will Bonness won the award for jazz album of the year (solo) for Change of Plans. The Winnipeg pianist’s third recording features last year’s Juno winner Jocelyn Gould on vocals alongside alto saxophonist Jon Gordon, bassist Julian Bradford and drummer Fabio Ragnelli. This is the first Juno Award for Bonness, who has been active on the international jazz scene for more than two decades.

In the final jazz category of the night, Caity Gyorgy won her very first Juno Award for vocal jazz album of the year. The young talent from Calgary and now based in Toronto and Montreal has been gaining a following for her confident songwriting, inspired style and exemplary vocal prowess. The Juno-winning recording Now Pronouncing is an EP of original music arranged for large ensemble.

Blues veteran Colin James won his eighth Juno Award, with his latest studio recording Open Road being named blues album of the year.

During the main awards ceremony on Sunday, singer, songwriter and actress Deborah Cox will be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. She’s the first Black woman to receive the national honour.

More to come.

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Here are all the 2022 nominees in the Junos’ jazz and related categories, with the winners in bold.

Vocal Jazz Album of the Year
  • Alex Bird and the Jazz Mavericks – You Are the Light and the Way
  • Amanda Tosoff – Earth Voices
  • Caity Gyorgy – Now Pronouncing
  • Elizabeth Shepherd & Michael Occhipinti – The Weight of Hope
  • Holly Cole Trio – Montreal (Live)
Jazz Album of the Year: Solo
  • Andrés Vial – When Is Ancient?
  • Efajemue – Aesthetics
  • Jesse Ryan – Bridges
  • Jon Gordon – Stranger Than Fiction
  • Will Bonness – Change of Plans 
Jazz Album of the Year: Group
  • Avataar – Worldview
  • Christine Tassan Quintette – Voyage intérieur
  • Esteban Herrera – The Prophet
  • Lina Allemano Four – Vegetables
  • The Dave Restivo Trio – Arancina
Blues Album of the Year
  • Colin James – Open Road
  • Colin Linden – bLOW
  • Miss Emily – LIVE at the Isabel
  • Steve Marriner – Hope Dies Last
  • Sue Foley – Pinky’s Blues