Thursday, December 03, 2009

Jazz Grammy Nominees

Grammy nominations in the pop and rock categories long have been more about a popularity contest -- moving units or, now, downloading via iTunes -- than an attempt to honor anything like musical art or innovation. Oh well, whatever, nevermind.

To the credit of NARAS, though, nominees in the jazz categories often include first-rate musicians, genuine artists who AREN'T household names, who don't show up in the supermarket tabloids.

A few of my favorites from 09 are missing, and I'll put together my own list (also to be included in the Village Voice poll) later this month.

In the large ensemble category, how could voters miss Chuck Owen & the Jazz Surge's The Comet's Tail, a stunning tribute to late saxophone great Michael Brecker, with guest shots by Randy Brecker, Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman, and Mike Stern, among other name artists?

Still, it's encouraging to see such strong talent represented in all of the jazz categories.

Will the late, revered Weather Report keyboardist/composer Joe Zawinul, nominated for the final release from his Zawinul Syndicate, beat out great jazz/fusion guitarist Mike Stern and critically acclaimed vibraphonist Stefon Harris, for "best contemporary jazz album"?

Will Italian-born singer Roberta Gambarini, a critical darling who's firmly in the tradition of Ella and Sarah, get the nod for "best jazz vocal album" over the likes of Chicago-based Kurt Elling and LA's Tierney Sutton?

For "best jazz instrumental album," will voters go for all-star projects led by vibraphonist Gary Burton, or Chick Corea/John McLaughlin, or will the vote split result in a win for New Orleans pianist/composer Allen Toussaint, bass great John Patitucci, or LA's Clayton Brothers?

Stay tuned.

A couple of notes: Nice to see mad banjo man Bela Fleck and funk/fusion bassist extraordinaire Marcus Miller show up in the category of "best pop instrumental performances." And it looks like wallpaper jazz, I mean, smooth jazz, is largely relegated to the category of "best pop instrumental album," which is where it probably belongs.

Jazz nominees, below .......

Best Contemporary Jazz Album
'Urbanus,' Stefon Harris & Blackout
'Sounding Point,' Julian Lage
'At World's Edge,' Philippe Saisse
'Big Neighborhood,' Mike Stern
'75,' Joe Zawinul & The Zawinul Syndicate

Best Jazz Vocal Album
'No Regrets,' Randy Crawford (& Joe Sample)
'Dedicated To You: Kurt Elling Sings The Music Of Coltrane And Hartman,' Kurt Elling
'So In Love,' Roberta Gambarini
'Tide,' Luciana Souza
'Desire,' Tierney Sutton (Band)

Best Improvised Jazz Solo
'Dancin' 4 Chicken,' Terence Blanchard, soloist
'All Of You,' Gerald Clayton, soloist
'Ms. Garvey, Ms. Garvey,' Roy Hargrove, soloist
'On Green Dolphin Street,' Martial Solal, soloist
'Villa Palmeras,' Miguel Zenón, soloist

Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group
'Quartet Live,' Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, Steve Swallow & Antonio Sanchez
'Brother To Brother,' Clayton Brothers
'Five Peace Band - Live,' Chick Corea & John McLaughlin Five Peace Band
'Remembrance,' John Patitucci Trio
'The Bright Mississippi,' Allen Toussaint

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album
'Legendary,' Bob Florence Limited Edition
'Eternal Interlude,' John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble
'Fun Time,' Sammy Nestico And The SWR Big Band
'Book One,' New Orleans Jazz Orchestra
'Lab 2009,' University Of North Texas One O'Clock Lab Band

Best Latin Jazz Album
'Things I Wanted To Do,' Chembo Corniel
'Áurea,' Geoffrey Keezer
'Brazilliance X 4,' Claudio Roditi
'Juntos Para Siempre,' Bebo Valdés And Chucho Valdés
'Esta Plena,' Miguel Zenón

No comments: