Acclaimed jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins was the big winner Wednesday at the Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Awards gala in New York.

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Jazz legend Sonny Rollins, seen at the 2011 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, was the big winner at the 2012 Jazz Awards in New York on Wednesday. (Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

The 81-year-old music icon earned his second consecutive musician of the year title. He was also named the year's top tenor saxophonist, while his live album Road Shows, Vol. 2 earned the best jazz recording crown. The album's liner notes also earned an award for Francis Davis.

Road Shows, Vol. 2 features live recordings from concerts Rollins gave in Japan as well as his 80th birthday concert in New York last year, during which he performed with fellow jazz icon and alto sax master Ornette Coleman.

"I was born with some talent for which I am grateful," Rollins, who was unable to attend the gala at New York's Blue Note jazz club, said in a statement read from the stage.   "I copied and learned from my predecessors and I'm grateful to them, and I gratefully accept this award."

Tel Aviv-born musician and bandleader Anat Cohen was also a multiple award-winner, capturing a pair of categories: best clarinetist and best multi-reeds player.

"It's an immense pleasure and a never-ending journey to be making music with some of the most adventurous, creative, passionate people we call jazz musicians," Cohen said.

Other winners included:

  • Composer-arranger of the year: Maria Schneider
  • Up-and-coming artist: Ben Williams     
  • Large ensemble: Mingus Big Band
  • Small ensemble: Joe Lovano Us Five    
  • Male vocalist: Kurt Elling   
  • Female vocalist: Gretchen Parlato
  • Lifetime achievement in jazz: Horace Silver
  • Lifetime achievement in jazz journalism: Amiri Baraka
  • Words and Music Award: Albert Murray
  • Record label: ECM   

Presented annually, the awards celebrate excellence in jazz and jazz music journalism. The 40 main categories are voted on by the members of the Jazz Journalists Association.

With files from The Associated Press