Jazz With An Accent: Drummin’ Back Out Into the World — CDs by Arturo O’Farrill and Ginger Baker

August 6, 2014

By Fernando Gonzalez

Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra

The Offense of the Drum (Motema)

Maestro Mario Bauzá — trumpeter, saxophonist and music director of Machito and His Afro- Cubans, direct link between Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo and a key figure in blending jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms — scoffed at the label Latin Jazz.

“What they call Latin jazz is not Latin jazz. That’s Afro-Cuban jazz,” he would say in his inimitable growl. It wasn’t just that “Latin jazz” blurred the Afro-Cuban contribution. It was also that, for him, Latin jazz suggested a different, more varied mix — incorporating Argentine tangos, Colombian cumbias, Venezuelan joropos or Puerto Rican bomba y plena.  He would then name artists such as Paquito D’Rivera, Gato Barbieri or Jorge Dalto as worthy
practitioners.

It was the 1980s and it was a short roll call.  Today, he would’ve had a much longer and broader list.

But Bauzá would have been specially proud of the work of pianist and bandleader Arturo O’Farrill, the son of his friend and collaborator, the great Cuban arranger and bandleader Chico O ́Farrill.

For 12 years, sometimes seemingly hidden in plain view, Arturo O ́Farrill has carried on an extraordinary effort, not only organizing and keeping alive an 18-piece big band but doing so while also expanding the vocabulary of Afro-Cuban jazz into a truly Pan-Latin Latin jazz.  By now, the book of the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO) includes not only some of the great standards of Afro-Cuban jazz but also pieces blending in tangos, choros and Peruvian festejos.  In The Offense of The Drum, O ́Farrill both takes it further out and brings it all home.  With the drums as the foundational center of the music, the ALJO connects diverse traditions  creatively but also rather organically.

So a tribute to the shared spirits and grooves in Havana and New Orleans, a musical dialogue  in “On The Corner of Malecón and Bourbon,” flows into a sly Colombian porro groove and  allusions to Colombian papayera band (a type of brass street band) on “Mercado en Domingo.”  But exploring the groove doesn’t preclude a reflective “Gonossiene 3 (Tientos),” which  explodes Erik Satie’s music Arabic elements with a flamenco perspective.

And O’Farrill is neither afraid of collaborations — such as those with pianist Vijay Iyer (the odd  metered “The Mad Hatter”) and DJ Logic (“They Came” which also explores spoken poetry)  — nor having a good time, as with the eminently danceable salsa track, “Alma Vacía,” or the  classic “Iko Iko” – featuring alto saxophonist Donald Harrison, a Big Chief Mardi Gras Indian –  reinvented here as a joyous, bouncing Cuban/New Orleans party groove.

Throughout, the arranging is imaginative, exploring the character of the music and the  instrumental possibilities of the band, while the soloing (especially by O’Farrill and Iyer on  piano, Rafi Malkiel, euphonium and Harrison on sax) is consistently smart and purposeful.  Creative, swinging and open to the world, The Offense of The Drum is Latin jazz at its best.

Offense of the Drum Electronic Press Kit

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Ginger Baker

Why? (Motema)

While lasting only two years, 1966 – 1968, the British trio Cream had an oversized impact in  modern popular music. At different times, Cream has been claimed as ancestor and inspiration  by rock musicians of nearly all stripes, from fusion to heavy metal.

But jazz has more than a fair claim to their legacy too. In fact, one doesn’t need to go back to  their epic version of Skip James’ “I’m So Glad,” in the group’s final Goodbye, to connect the  dots between the jazz tradition and their instrumental virtuosity, their approach to improvisation  and open-ended treatment of the blues. Set aside the pop-rock imagery for a second and think of, say, a saxophone playing the guitar lines and you are closer to an avant-jazz trio than a rock band.

That shouldn’t be a surprise. The two guys working the engine room of Cream, bassist  Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker, were educated in, and fans of, jazz. Guitarist Eric Clapton was a different story — and his post-Cream, MOR career is evidence enough. In his autobiography, Bruce seems to suggest that two-thirds of Cream thought of it as a jazz trio adding, jokingly one would hope, that they just wouldn’t tell Clapton about it.

With his new album Why?, his first in 16 years, Baker, 75, seems to be closing the circle, returning once again, in one gesture, to his old loves — jazz (including two appealing trio records in the 90s with Bill Frisell and Charlie Haden), African music and, essentially, the trio format (replacing the guitar with a horn and in fact playing without a chordal instrument this time).

Baker’s band these days, Jazz Confusion, features Pee Wee Ellis on sax, Alec Dankworth, bass and Abass Dodoo, percussion, and offers the drummer a smart, strong, no-frills vehicle.  The repertoire in Why? also suggests a bringing-it-all-home feel.

It’s comprised mainly of Baker’s originals, including “Ain Temouchant,” recorded with Frisell and Haden on Going Back Home (1994); “Cyril Davis,” (sic) a tribute to the British harmonica blues player Cyril Davies, and trumpeter Ron Miles’ “Ginger Spice,” both first recorded on Baker’s Coward of the County (1998); and the title track, a meditation on his life and work including a tip of the hat to the late bandleader Graham Bond.

The set also includes “Aiko Biaye,” an update of a Nigerian song Baker recorded in 1970 with Air Force, his short-lived sui generis big band; Ellis’ “Twelve and More Blues,” and a couple of jazz standards, Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints” and the irresistible “St. Thomas,” by Sonny Rollins.  Throughout, Ellis is an economic and tightly focused improviser, even as he takes flight on  tracks such as “St Thomas” and his own “Twelve and More,” remade here with a post-bop
swing. Dankworth is solid and fluid throughout, anchoring the group and providing measured, eloquent soloing.

Baker drives the music forward with his distinct drive and African-tinged tom-tom and hi-hat sound. There it might not be in his playing the relentless, maniacal intensity of his heyday (how could there be?) but Baker’s craftiness and musicality more than makes up for what he might lack at this point in energy. In Why? Baker embraces his past — but don’t expect a warm-and fuzzy nostalgia trip. To quote the title of the terrific Jay Bulger 2012 documentary about him, Beware of Mr. Baker. Yep. And that’s a good thing.

Beware of Mr. Baker

To read more posts, reviews and essays by Fernando Gonzalez click HERE


Here, There & Everywhere: The 2012 Jazz Grammy Winners

February 13, 2012

By Don Heckman

The 2012 Grammys are in, and once again there’s not much sound of surprise in the results.  Certainly nothing in the same ballpark as last year’s Best New Artist award for Esperanza Spalding.  That’s not to say that any of the wins were undeserved.  Because they all were the products of gifted artists doing their best. Nor were any of the nominees any less deserving than the winners.

Still, both the awards and the Recording Academy’s current approach to jazz raise some questioning observations.  Take, for example, the inclusion of Terri Lyne Carrington’ s The Mosaic Project in the Jazz Vocal grouping.  Doesn’t it seem inevitable that a collection of songs by such major names as Dianne Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Cassandra Wilson and, yes, Esperanza Spalding (among others) is going to have a major head start in any competition against recordings by single artists?  What chance did the other nominees – especially the unusually superlative trio of albums from Tierney Sutton, Roseanna Vitro and Karrin Allyson – have against a full line-up of such musical heavyweights?

Notice, too, some of the repetitions: multiple nominations for Randy Brecker, Fred Hersch and Sonny Rollins.  Great artists, all, but where are the nominations for the youngest generation of jazz players?  It’s worth noting that Gerald Clayton is the only nominee still in his twenties.  And Miguel Zenon is the only nominee still in his thirties.

Add to that several aspects in this year’s awards procedures that underscore the diminishing role that jazz is playing in the Grammy overview.  Start with the reduced number of categories.  In 2011 there were six: Contemporary Jazz Album, Vocal Album, Improvised Jazz Solo, Jazz Instrumental Album (Individual or Group), Large Jazz Album and Latin Jazz Album.

This year, there are four: Best Improvised Jazz Solo, Best Jazz Vocal Album, Best Jazz Instrumental Album and Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. Some jazz fans won’t miss the Contemporary category, despite the fact that its absence eliminates the presence of some fine, pop-oriented jazz stylists.  But the Latin Jazz omission is unforgivable, and should receive careful re-consideration in the planning for next year’s Grammys.

In the listings below, I’ve also included Best Instrumental Arrangement and Best Instrumental Composition, because, in these nominees, the emphasis is almost completely in the direction of jazz.  They could easily have had different orientations — pop, rock, electronica, classical and otherwise — given the all-inclusive nature of the descriptions “Instrumental Arrangement” and “Instrumental Composition.”

Ultimately, the single word that comes to mind in considering all the above is “irrelevant.”  Receiving a Grammy award continues to be one of the music world’s greatest honors – for the individual artist.  And every jazz player –like every other musical artist – has to be delighted to receive the gold statuette.  But the overall significance of the Grammys to jazz, the Awards’ full commitment to honoring one of America’s greatest cultural contributions, continues to diminish.  And if it continues in its current direction, the long, historical Grammy/jazz connection won’t just be irrelevant, it’ll be non-existent.

Here are this year’s awards:

Best Improvised Jazz Solo

 Winner.  Chick Corea : “Five Hundred Miles Highfrom Forever.

Other Nominees:

Randy Brecker: “All or Nothing at All” from The Jazz ballad Song Book

Ron Carter: “You Are My Sunshine” from This Is Jazz.

Fred Hersch: “Work” from Alone at the Vanguard.

Sonny Rollins: “Sunnymoon For Two: from Road Shows, Vol. 2.

Best Jazz Vocal album

Winner: Terri Lyne Carrington and Various Artists: The Mosaic Project.

Other Nominees:

Tierney Sutton Band: American Road

Karrin Allyson: ‘Round Midnight.

Kurt Elling: The Gate.

Roseanna Vitro: The Music of Randy Newman.

Best Jazz Instrumental Album

Winner: Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke & Lenny White.  Corea, Clark & White.

Other Nominees:

Gerald Clayton: The Paris Sessions.

Fred Hersch: Alone at the Vanguard.

Joe Lovano/Us Five: Bird Songs.

Sonny Rollins: Road Shows, Vol.2

Yellowjackets: Timeline.

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album

Winner: Christian McBride Big Band. The Good Feeling.

Other Nominees:

Randy Brecker with the WDR Big Band: The Jazz Ballad Song Book.

Arturo O’Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra: 40 Acres and a Burro.

Gerald Wilson Orchestra; Legacy.

Miguel Zenon: Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook

Best Instrumental Arrangement

Winner: Gordon Goodwin: Rhapsody in Blue.

Other Nominees:

Peter Jensen: ‘All or Nothing At All” (for Randy Brecker with the GDR Big Band)

Clare Fischer: “In the Beginning: (from the Clare Fischer Big band’s Continuum.)

Bob Brookmeyer: “Nasty Dance.” (from the Vanguard Jazz Orchstra’s Forever Lasting).

Carlos Franzetti: “Song Without Words” (from Alborada).

Best Instrumental Composition

Winner: Bela Fleck and Howard Levy: “Life In Eleven” from Rocket Science.

Other Nominees:

John Hollenbeck: “Falling Men” from Shut Up and Dance.

Gordon Goodwin: “Hunting Wabbits 3 (Get Off My Lawn) from That’s How We Roll.

Randy Brecker: “I Talk To The Trees” from The Jazz Ballad Song Book.

Russell Ferrante: “Timeline” from Timeline.


Picks of the Week: Feb. 16 – 22

February 16, 2009

By Don Heckman

Los Angeles

mondavid

Mon David

- Feb. 17. (Tues.)  Mon David.  The Filipino singer has all the skills to emerge as one of the breakout male jazz vocal talents of the year.  Vibrato.   (310) 474-9400.  www.vibratogrilljazz.com

- Feb. 17. (Tues.)  “Tales From the Diva Den” featuring Kristin Korb, Inga Swearingen, Kathleen Grace.  They may be divas, but they’re jazz artists first, with each offering a unique slant on how to bring a song alive. Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.  www.catalinajazzclub.com.

- Feb. 18 – 21. (Wed. – Sat.)  Mose Allison and Tom Warrington.  The inimitable Bard of the Bayou, his songs and his piano.  With the impeccable support of Warrington’s bass playing.  Jazz Bakery  (310) 271-9039.  www.jazzbakery.com.

joan-baez

Joan Baez, photo by Dana Tynan

- Feb. 19. (Thurs.)  Joan Baez.  A pop icon if there ever was one.  Baez’s latest CD, “Day After Tomorrow,” was her first to chart on the Billboard Top 200 in 28 years.  And with good reason; her voice is still a musical marvel.  UCLA Live.  Royce Hall. (310) 825-2101.  www.uclalive.org

- Feb. 19. (Thurs.)  Houston Person.  He was great with Etta Jones, and he’s even better up front, bringing swinging soul to everything he touches. Jazz Brasserie at the Crowne Plaza LAX Hotel.  (310) 642-7500.  http://www.in-housemusic.com

- Feb. 19 – 22. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Pianist David Benoit in a rare, up close and personal night club run.  Catalina Bar & Grill.  (323) 466-2210.  www.catalinajazzclub.co.

- Feb. 20. (Fri.)  Israel-born pianist Tamir Hendleman proves that good jazz is boundary-less.  Steamers.  (714) 871-8800  www.steamersjazzcafe.com

- Feb. 20 – 21. (Fri. & Sat.)  Another saxophone weekend at Charlie O’s, featuring a pair of the Southland’s most versatile tenorists: Azar Lawrence on Friday, and Justo Almario on Saturday.  With the John Heard Trio.  Charlie O’s.  [818] 994-3058.  www.charlieos.com

tropidanza1

Tropidanza

- Feb. 21. (Sat.)  Brazilian Carnaval 2009 It’s as close as L.A. can get to the irresistible, high voltage excitement of Rio and carnival time.  The non-stop, six hour line-up of performers includes Katia Moraes and the Pure Samba Band, Nation Beat‘s frevo and maracatu, Flavio Ribeiro and Unidos of California Samba School, Mestre Amen‘s acrobatic capoeira show, The Tropidanza company and the Viver Brasil Dance Company.  Hollywood Palladium.  [818] 566-1111, http://braziliannites.com

- Feb. 21. (Sat.)  The Munich SymphonyPhilippe Entremont, conductor and pianist, performing Wagner, Tchaikovsky (Symphony #2) and a Mozart Piano Concerto.  UCLA Live. Royce Hall. (310) 825-2101.  www.uclalive.org

- Feb. 22. (Sun.)  Ethel Merman’s BroadwayRita McKenzie‘s spot-on salute to the Queen of Broadway, complete with the vibrato, the intensity and the fun.  Cerritos Center.  (562) 467-8818 www.cerritoscenter.com

San Francisco

richard-bona-11

Richard Bona

- Feb. 19 – 22. (Thurs. – Sun.)  Richard Bona.  Hopefully the gifted African bassist will combine his instrumental prowess with his atmospheric vocals.  A very limited number of tickets are on sale for $10, while supplies last.  Yoshi’s Oakland. . (510) 238-9200.  www.yoshis.com.

- Feb. 20 – 22. (Fri – Sun.) Larry Coryell, Joey DeFrancesco and Alphonse Mouzon in a hard to top combination of body-moving jazz.  Yoshi’s San Francisco.  (415) 655-5600.  www.yoshis.com

New York City

- Feb. 17 – 22. (Tues. – Sun.)  David Sanborn in a rare club gig, reminding us that passion and imagination can be more important than fast fingers.  Blue Note.  (212) 475-8592. http://www.bluenote.net/newyork/index.shtml.

- Feb. 17 – 22. (Tues. – Sun.)  Terence Blanchard takes a break from film composing.  Village Vanguard  (212) 255-4037.  http://villagevanguard.com

- Feb/ 17 – 22/ )Tues. – Sun.)  Ann Hampton Callaway supports her brand new album, “At Last.”  Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola. (212) 258-9595.  www.jalc.org/dccc

- Feb. 18 (Wed.) Medeski, Martin & Wood, still making a convincing case for fusion.  Le Poisson Rouge. (212) 796-0741.  http://lepoissonrouge.com

- Feb. 18. (Wed.)  Anat Cohen Group.  Reviving the clarinet as an authentic jazz instrument.  Small’s   (212) 252-5091.   http://www.smallsjazzclub.com

randy-weston-2

Randy Weston, photo by Oumar Fall

- Feb. 18 – 22.  (Wed. – Sun.)  Randy Weston’s African Rhythms Quintet.  Weston’s music was described by Langston Hughes as “an ebb and flow of sound seemingly as natural as the waves of the sea.”  The Jazz Standard.  (212) 576-2252.  http://www.jazzstandard.net/red/index.html

- Feb. 19. (Thurs.)  Leonard Cohen.  Beacon Theatre.  NYC.  The Canadia poet/songwriter’s first US show in 15 years.  Beacon Theatre. (212).465-6500.  http://www.beacontheatrenyc.com

- Feb. 22. (Sun.)  Chico O’Farrill’s Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra Directed by Arturo O’Farrill:  “The most seamless blend of clavè rhythm and bebop harmony anywhere.” (Time Out)  Birdland. Birdland.  (212) 581-3080.  www.birdlandjazz.com.


Here, There & Everywhere: The Jazz Grammy Awards

February 8, 2009

By Don Heckman

The jazz Grammy awards are in.  Early as usual, of course, since the Recording Academy again didn’t choose to present any of the awards for this great American art form during the prime time telecast (which hasn’t quite begun as I write these thoughts).  Here’s the list of winners, along with the nominees and some random comments.  Followed by a few other worthy honorees.

Best Contemporary Jazz Album

Grammy Award: Randy Brecker:  “Randy in Brasil.”randy-brecker-cd

“Floating Point,” John McLaughlin

“Cannon Re-Loaded: All-Star Celebration Of Cannonball Adderley,” Various Artists

“Miles From India,” Various Artists

“Lifecycle,” Yellowjackets featuring Mike Stern

No argument from me on this one, since it was my choice, as well.  But the category itself is a grab bag.  Every nomination is worthy, in its own context.   And the “Miles From India” project deserves special notice for originality of concept, if nothing else.  But how can one possible evaluate it in comparison with CDs from the Yellowjackets and John McLaughlin?

Best Jazz Vocal Album

Grammy Award: Cassandra Wilson:  “Loverly.”cassandra-wilson-cd

“Imagina: Songs of Brasil,” Karrin Allyson

“Breakfast on the Morning Train,” Stacey Kent

“If Less is More … Nothing is Everything,” Kate McGarry

It’s a quality field of jazz vocalists, any one of whom would have made a solid choice.  But it’s good that it was won by an artist who brings a rare quality of authenticity to everything she touches.   And whom, despite what the Los Angeles Times seems to think, hasn’t been at all influenced by Norah Jones.

Best Jazz Instrumental Solo

Grammy Award:  Terence Blanchard:  “Bebop.”monterey-jazz-fest-cd

“Seven Steps to Heaven,” Till Bronner

“Waltz for Debby,” Gary Burton & Chick Corea

“Son of Thirteen,” Pat Metheny

“Be-Bop,” James Moody

Another of the Academy’s weird categories.  How many voting members can honestly say that they’ve heard enough jazz solos to place one above all the others.  Using what criteria?  Certainly Terence deserves an award.  But what about Moody, who played superbly on the same track?  And how does one evaluate these individual solos in the context of Chick Corea and Gary Burton playing together?

Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group

Grammy Award: Chick Corea and Gary Burton:chick-corea-gary-burton-cd “The New Crystal Silence”

“History, Mystery,” Bill Frisell

“Brad Mehldau Trio: Live,” Brad Mehldau Trio

“Day Trip,” Pat Metheny With Christian McBride & Antonio Sanchez

“Standards,” Alan Pasqua, Dave Carpenter & Peter Erskine Trio

My choice here would either have been Frisell’s “History, Mystery” or the lovely album of standards by the Pasqua, Carpenter, Erskine trio.  But it’s unlikely that these West Coast-based guys (including Carpenter, who died at a far too early age in June) could have received the national (and East Coast) support to grab the award.

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album

Grammy Award: The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra: vanguard-jazz-orch-cd“Monday Night at the Village Vanguard”

“Appearing Nightly,” Carla Bley And Her Remarkable Big Band

“Act Your Age,” Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band

“Symphonica,” Joe Lovano With WDR Big Band & Rundfunk Orchestra

“Blauklang,” Vince Mendoza

It’s a shame that Carla Bley’s wild-eyed group of players were overlooked.  Yes, the Vanguard Orchestra is doing an impressive job of carrying the baton for straight ahead big band jazz.  But it sure would have been nice for Carla’s envelope stretching work to receive the notice it deserves.

Best Latin Jazz Album

Grammy Award: Arturo O’Farrill &and the Afro-chico-ofarrill-cdLatin Jazz Orchestra: “Song for Chico”

Afro Bop Alliance,” Caribbean Jazz Project

“The Latin Side Of Wayne Shorter,” Conrad Herwig & The Latin Side Band

“Nouveau Latino,” Nestor Torres

“Marooned/Aislado,” Papo Vázquez The Mighty Pirates

No argument here, either.  Arturo O’Farrill”s been doing an impressive job of keeping alive the memory of his father, the great jazz arranger/composer , Chico O’Farrill.

Best Traditional World Music Album

Grammy Award: Ladysmith Black Mambazo: ladysmith-cd“Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu,”

“Calcutta Chronicles: Indian Slide Guitar Odyssey,” Debashish Bhattacharya
“The Mandé Variations,” Toumani Diabaté
“Dancing In The Light,” Lakshmi Shankar

The other entries didn’t stand much of a chance, given Ladysmith’s international visibility.  But they’re a great ensemble, always worth hearing.  Even though the most fascinating album musically was surely the remarkable slide guitar playing of Bhattacharya.

Best Contemporary World Music Album

Grammy Award: Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussain, Sikiruglobal-drum-project Adepoju & Giovanni Hidalgo: “Global Drum Project”

“Shake Away,” Lila Downs
“Banda Larga Cordel.” Gilberto Gil
“Rokku Mi Rokka (Give And Take),” Youssou N’Dour
“Live At The Nelson Mandela Theater,” Soweto Gospel Choir

Pretty hard to make a choice here.  Given the range of possibilities and the genre of styles, it could have gone to any one of these fine acts.   But the most intriguing, from my perspective, is the fascinating work being done by Downs, whose career has matured by leaps and bounds over the past few years.

A Few Other Interesting Awards:

Best New Age Album

Jack DeJohnette:  “Peace Time”

Yes, it’s that Jack De Johnette, bringing the same thoughtful sensitivity to an atmospheric collection of New Age sounds that he does to his work with Keith Jarrett and Gary Peacock.

Best Album Notes

Francis Davis: “Kind of Blue: 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition”

As any jazz writer knows, “Kind of Blue” was a great project to work with, but give Francis Davis credit for writing about it with sensitivity, insight and knowledge.

Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist

Nan Schwartz.  “Here’s That Rainy Day” from Natalie Cole’s “Still Unforgettable.”

Nan Schwartz has been crafting superb arrangements, making singers and instrumentalists sound their best, for years. This is a much-deserved acknowledgment of her impressive skills.


Here, There and Everywhere: The Jazz Grammy Nominations

December 3, 2008

by Don Heckman

Well, they’re in, and they’re unlikely to excite anyone other than the folks who have received the nominations.  If this year’s round-up carries any overall message, it’s that jazz, at the moment, is seriously lacking a prophet.  Everything on this list is competent, professional, well-done and even, in some cases, a little exciting.  But not much more.

A further thought comes to mind, upon taking a closer overall look at the entries.  This may be the whitest collection of jazz nominations I’ve seen in a long time, perhaps ever.   Can it be that the opening of the pop music doors to rap and hip hop artists over the past couple of decades has had the effect of drawing away young African American talent that might otherwise have been attracted to jazz?  Just a thought.

The only aspects about these nominations that jump out, in fact, have more to do with programming than talent.  Like Category 47 (Best Jazz Instrumental Solo), always the diciest of categories — do the committees actually listen to enough jazz solos to decide what should be nominated?  And if they do, how could they possibly have nominated two solos — Blanchard and Moody — from the same track — “Be-Bop.”  (Interestingly, the only two solo instrumental nominations for African American artists.)

And what about Category 48 (Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group).  Three (out of five) nominations from Nonesuch?  Hey, I like Bob Hurwitz as much as the next guy, but it’s hard to imagine that there weren’t other possible choices.

That’s not to say there aren’t some things worth liking.  If I were still a voting member of the Academy, I’d favor: Randy Brecker in the Best Contemporary group; Stacy Kent or Cassandra Wilson in the Vocal category;  Pat Metheny in the Best Solo group;  Pasqua, Carpenter and Erskine in Best Instrumental Album;  Carla Bley in the Best Large Ensemble category; and Arturo O’Farrill in Best Latin Jazz.

Category 45 –  Best Contemporary Jazz Album

  • “Randy In Brasil” [MAMA Records]

Randy Brecker

  • “Floating Point” [Abstract Logix]

John McLaughlin

  • “Cannon Re-Loaded: All-Star Celebration Of Cannonball Adderley” [Concord Jazz]

(Various Artists) Gregg Field & Tom Scott, producers

  • “Miles From India” [4Q/Times Square Records]

(Various Artists) Bob Belden, producer

-  “Lifecycle” [Heads Up International]

Yellowjackets Featuring Mike Stern

Category 46 –  Best Jazz Vocal Album

  • “Imagina: Songs Of Brasil” [Concord Jazz]  Karrin Allyson

• “Breakfast On The Morning Tram” [Blue Note]  Stacey Kent

  • “If Less Is More…Nothing Is Everything” [Palmetto Records] Kate McGarry
  • “Loverly” [Blue Note] Cassandra Wilson
  • “Distances” [ECM] Norma Winstone (Glauco Venier & Klaus Gesing)

Category 47 –  Best Jazz Instrumental Solo

  • “Be-Bop” Terence Blanchard, soloist

Track from: Live At The 2007 Monterey Jazz Festival (Monterey Jazz Festival 50th Anniversary All-Stars) [Monterey Jazz Festival Records]

-  “Seven Steps To Heaven” Till Brönner, soloist

Track from: The Standard (Take 6) [Heads Up International]

  • “Waltz For Debby” Gary Burton & Chick Corea, soloists

Track from: The New Crystal Silence  [Concord Records]

  • “Son Of Thirteen” Pat Metheny, soloist

Track from: Day Trip  [Nonesuch Records]

  • “Be-Bop” James Moody, soloist

Track from: Live At The 2007 Monterey Jazz Festival (Monterey Jazz Festival 50th Anniversary All-Stars) [Monterey Jazz Festival Records]

Category 48 –  Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group

  • “The New Crystal Silence” [Concord Records] Chick Corea & Gary Burton
  • “History, Mystery” [Nonesuch Records] Bill Frisell
  • “Brad Mehldau Trio: Live” [Nonesuch Records] Brad Mehldau Trio

-  “Day Trip” [Nonesuch Records] Pat Metheny With Christian McBride & Antonio Sanchez

  • “Standards” [Fuzzy Music] Alan Pasqua, Dave Carpenter & Peter Erskine Trio

Category 49 –  Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album

  • “Appearing Nightly” [WATT] Carla Bley And Her Remarkable Big Band
  • “Act Your Age” [Immergent] Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band
  • “Symphonica” [Blue Note] Joe Lovano With WDR Big Band & Rundfunk Orchestra
  • “Blauklang” [Act Music and Vision (AMV)] Vince Mendoza
  • “Monday Night Live At The Village Vanguard” [Planet Arts Recordings] The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra

Category 50 –  Best Latin Jazz Album

(Vocal or Instrumental.)

  • “Afro Bop Alliance” [Heads Up International] Caribbean Jazz Project
  • “The Latin Side Of Wayne Shorter” [Half Note Records] Conrad Herwig & The Latin Side Band
  • “Song For Chico” [Zoho] Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra
  • “Nouveau Latino” [Diamond Light Records] Nestor Torres
  • “Marooned/Aislado” [Picaro Records] Papo Vázquez The Mighty Pirates

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