It’s awards season! During this year’s Grammys, Sam Smith was the big winner, Kanye West once again tried to interrupt a winner, and Paul McCartney could barely be heard when he was performing with Rihanna and Kanye. The positive side of the Grammys featured performances by Hozier and Annie Lennox, Sam Smith and Mary J. Blige, as well as John Legend and Common’s powerful performance of their new song, “Glory.” But before the big, televised main show from Staples Center in Inglewood, CA, the jazz part of the Grammys takes place.
The nominees for “Best Improvised Jazz Solo” included quite a few well-established piano players, such as Fred Hersch, Kenny Barron, and Brad Mehldau, but the winner was Chick Corea and his Trilogy album, featuring Christian McBride on bass and Brian Blade on drums. Corea’s Trilogy also took the award for “Best Jazz Instrumental Album,”and Brian Blade and The Fellowship Band’s Landmarks was a runner-up in this category. For Blade it was a great night, as a nominee for his own album and as a contributor to a big night for Chick Corea.
“Best Jazz Vocal Album” went to Dianne Reeves’ Beautiful Life. For years, Reeves has worked with many of the greatest women in the music industry. Her Grammy-winning album features Geri Allen, Terri Lyne Carrington, Tia Fuller, and Esperanza Spalding. One of the interesting follow-ups in this category was Gretchen Parlato’s Live in NYC, another great album that I highly recommend checking out! The album features originals and covers of Wayne Shorter’s “Juju” and Herbie Hancock’s “Butterfly.”
“Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album” went to Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band’s release Life In the Bubble. One of the runners-up in this category was The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra’s album The L.A. Treasures Project, led by drummer Jeff Hamilton and bassist John Clayton (known for being part of one of Diana Krall’s rhythm sections). The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra was also nominated for their OverTime: Music of Bob Brookmeyer. Goodwin’s 18-piece large jazz ensemble, based in California, has been around for years. Their first release, Swingin’ for the Fences, was released in 2001. This is not the first time the band has been Grammy nominated; in 2003, they were nominated for their album XXL.
The Offense Of The Drum, by Arturo O’Farrill & The Latin Jazz Orchestra, won in the “Best Latin Jazz Album” category. Among the best cuts from the record is “Expresion Latina,” which features all of the classic salsa elements, showcased in a bigger format: montuno piano, a wide range of percussion elements, and a tight horn section. The group will be performing at the Berklee Performance Center on March 14 at 8pm. The Latin Jazz category also featured some great runners-up, including The Latin Side Of Joe Henderson by Conrad Herwig and saxophonist Joe Lovano. On this album, Herwig and Lovano cover some of Henderson’s most classic compositions including “Inner Urge” and “Black Narcissus”.
Congrats to all the winners and nominees!
Grammy winners overview
Chick Corea Trio – Trilogy
Dianne Reeves – Feels So Good
Joe Lovano and Conrad Herwig – Recorda Me
Arturo O’Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra – Alma vacia
Gretchen Parlato – Butterfly
Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band – Embers