Here, There & Everywhere: The 2013 Jazz Grammy Awards

By Don Heckman

The 55th annual Grammy Awards are now history.  But not exactly history-making, especially in the Jazz categories.  It’s hard to imagine anyone being surprised by most of the results.  Or, in fact, by most of nominations.

That’s not to demean, in any way, the work of the jazz artists who did receive Grammy statuettes yesterday.  The list of winners includes Chick Corea and Gary Burton, Esperanza Spalding, Pat Metheny, Arturo Sandoval and the late Clare Fischer’s Latin Jazz Big Band, in the five Jazz categories; and Chick Corea, the late Gil Evans and Spalding and Thara Memory in the Composing and Arranging categories, which have become virtual adjuncts to the Jazz listings.  One could never dispute their skill, artistry or worthiness as winners.

On the upside, it’s good to see the Latin Jazz Category returned to the line-up this year.  But the overall process itself is still uneven, to say the least.  Start with the first category, “Best Improvised Solo.”  What in the world are the standards a voter should use to make choices here?  Improvisation, by definition, is improvised.  How does one determine which spontaneous musical invention is “Best”?

“The Best Jazz Vocal Album” category mixes male and female singers in the same group.  Aside from the reduced number of possible nominees that can be chosen in a gender non-specific category, is it really fair or logical to ask voters to make comparisons between, say, Esperanza Spalding and Al Jarreau?

“The Best Instrumental Jazz Album” is a fairly straight-forward category.  But there are a pair of Chick Corea nominations in this group (especially since he also has two other nominations and a couple of wins in this year’s Awards).  Chick is one of the world’s finest jazz artists, and always worthy of being heard.  But, with the relatively small acknowledgment of jazz in the overall Grammy Award process, shouldn’t the honors be spread around a bit more?

The “Best Large Jazz Album” is hard to figure. It includes only three nominees – especially odd given the surprising numbers of large ensemble jazz recordings that have been arriving lately.

The ”Best Latin Jazz Album” winning choice is a much-deserved acknowledgement of the prolific and musically compelling Latin jazz work of the late Clare Fischer.  And it is done so amid a gifted group of artists reaching across the wide territory of Latin jazz.

Finally, the Best Instrumental Composition, Best Instrumental Arrangement, and Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) categories can all be praised for the high quality of the nominations, all much deserved.  And it’s especially rewarding to see the honoring of the late master arranger Gil Evans – with nominations and a win – for selections from the Centennial album, a collection of previously unrecorded Evans compositions and arrangements.

Last year I signed off on my Grammy comments by underscoring the fact that every jazz player –like every other musical artist – has to be delighted to receive a gold statuette.  The same applies this year, and every year.  But once again the significance of the Grammys to jazz, and the Awards’ commitment to truly honoring one of America’s greatest cultural contributions, continues to diminish.  Jazz deserves better care.

Here are the Nominees and the Award Winners:

JAZZ AWARDS

31. BEST IMPROVISED SOLO

.

***WINNER:CHICK COREA AND GARY BURTON

”Hot House”  (Track from  Hot House Concord Jazz)

.

.

RAVI COLTRANE

“Cross Roads” (Track from Spirit Fiction Blue Note)

CHICK COREA

“Alice in Wonderland” (Track from Further Explorations Concord Jazz)

KENNY GARRETT

“J.Mac” (Track from Seeds From the Underground Mack Avenue Records)

– BRAD MEHLDAU

“Ode” (From Ode Nonesuch)

 * * * * * * * * * *

 32. BEST JAZZ VOCAL ALBUM

.

***WINNER: ESPERANZA SPALDING

Radio Music Society (Heads Up International)

.

.

.

– DENISE DONATELLI

Soul Shadows (Savant Records)

 – KURT ELLING

1619 Broadway: The Brill Building Project Concord Jazz)

–  AL JARREAU  (and the Metropole Orkest)

Live (Concord)

– LUCIANA SOUZA 

The Book of Chet (Sunnyside Records)

 * * * * * * * * * *

 33. BEST INSTRUMENTAL JAZZ ALBUM

.

***WINNER: PAT METHENY UNITY BAND

Unity Band (Nonesuch)

.

.

– CHICK COREA, EDDIE GOMEZ, PAUL MOTIAN

Further Explorations (Concord Jazz)

CHICK COREA AND GARY BURTON

Hot House (Concord Jazz

KENNY GARRETT

Seeds From the Underground (Mack Avenue Records)

 – AHMAD JAMAL

Blue Moon (Jazz Village)

* * * * * * * * * *

34. BEST LARGE JAZZ ENSEMBLE ALBUM

.

***WINNER: ARTURO SANDOVAL BAND

Dear Diz (Every Day I Think of You) (Concord Jazz)

.

.

.

GIL EVANS PROJECT

Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans (ArtistShare)

– BOB MINTZER BIG BAND

For The Moment (MCG Jazz)

 * * * * * * * * * *

 35. BEST LATIN JAZZ ALBUM

C

,

***WINNER: THE CLARE FISCHER LATIN JAZZ BIG BAND

Ritmo! (Clare Fischer Productions/Clavo Records)

,

,

– CHANO DOMINGUEZ

Flamenco Sketches (Blue Note)

– BOBBY SANABRIA BIG BAND

Multiverse (Jazzheads)

LULCIANA SOUZA

Duos III (Sunnyside Records)

– MANUEL VALERA NEW CUBAN EXPRESS

New Cuban Express (Mavo Records)

* * * * * * * * * *

 59. BEST INSTRUMENTAL COMPOSITION

.

.

***WINNER: CHICK COREA

“Mozart Goes Dancing” (from Hothouse, Concord Jazz)

.

.

CHUCK LOEB

“December Dream” (from Esprit De Four Heads Up International.)

 CHRIS BRUBECK AND DAVE BRUBECK

“Music of Ansel Adams: America” with the Temple University Symphony Orchestra (BCM&D Records)

– BILL CUNLIFFE

Overture, Waltz and Rondo” with the Temple University Symphony Orchestra (BCM&D Records)

– BILL HOLMAN

“Without A Paddle” (from High On You Bosco Records)

 * * * * * * * * * *

 60. BEST INSTRUMENTAL ARRANGEMENT

.

***WINNER: GIL EVANS (Gil Evans Project)

“How About You” (from Centennial:Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans ArtistShare)

.

.

– MICHAEL PHILIP MOSSMAN (for the Bobby Sanabria Big Band)

“Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite For Ellington” (from Multiverse Jazzheads)

– BOB MINTZER  (for the Bob Mintzer Big Band)

“Irrequieto” (from For The Moment MCG Jazz)

-WALLY MINKO (for Arturo Sandoval Band)

“A Night In Tunisia (Actually An Entire Weekend!) (from Dear Diz (Every Day I Think Of You Concord Jazz)

– GORDON GOODWIN  (for Arturo Sandoval Band)

“Salt Peanuts (Mani Salado)”  (from Dear Diz (Every Day I Think Of You Concord Jazz)

 * * * * * * * * * *

 61. BEST INSTRUMENTAL ARRANGEMENT ACCOMPANYING VOCALIST (S)

.

***WINNER – THARA MEMORY & ESPERANZA SPALDING (for Esperanza Spalding)

“City of Roses” (from Radio Music Society Heads Up International)

.

.

– NAN SCHWARTZ  (for Whitney Claire Kaufman)

“ Wild Is the Wind”  (from The Greatest Film Scores of Dimitri Tiomkin” LSO Live)

– GIL EVANS  (for Gil Evans Project and Luciana Souza)

“Look To the Rainbow” (from Centennial:Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans ArtistShare)

– SHELLY BERG  (for Lorraine Feather)

“Out There” (from Tales of the Unusual Jazzed Media)

– VINCE MENDOZA  (for Al Jarreau and the Metropole Orkest)

“Spain (I Can Recall)” (from Live  Concord Records)

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