Greetings listeners. As we are nearing the airing of the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards, those nominated in the category of Jazz have provided the fans a wide and exciting array of great jazz music. There is a color of jazz on this wonderful palette for every jazz listener.
The young lion Stefon Harris, and his group Blackout bridge the gap in between classical jazz stylings and comtemporary jazz in a way that some may call unconventional, yet captivating. The tracks on Urbanus offer musical stylings that satisfy even the young, neophyte jazz listener and still capture the traditional offerings best liked by the most discerning long time listener.
Mike Stern is no stranger as a nominee in this category. Returning once again to the nominee circle with his release Big Neighborhood, he brings to us not only familiarity of his own jazz offerings, but nicely mixes blues, funk and shades of rock in his release. A cast of star musicians help create a catalyst that rightly places Mike as a nominee once again.
Jazz is not jazz without the most organic jazz instrument of all, the human voice. Randy Crawford has represented such an instrument superbly for many years, and has done stellar work is piano virtuouso, Joe Sample on various occasions. “No Regrets” is a release that combines, once again, the commanding and captivating voice of Randy Crawford along with the unmistakably recognizable style of Joe Sample.
With the “voice” in jazz, it’s yet still not complete without that crisp, cool class of a voice like that of Kurt Elling. His release “Dedicated To You: Kurt Elling Sings The Music Of Coltrane And Hartman” eloquently covers the great tunes of John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman in a way that automatically demands a Grammy nod. His depth of style and grace continues to further bring an aspect of style that jazz will be ever known for.
Strong returning contenders to this year’s nominee circle are once again, vibraphonist Gary Burton, guitar virtuouso Pat Metheny, bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Antonio Sanchez. “Quartet Live” is a must for any fan of instrumental jazz and it decidedly earns it’s rank as a premier nominee in the subcategory of Best Jazz Instrumental Album. Swift competition comes from piano and synthesizer legend Chick Corea and his longtime bandmate from Return To Forever, John McLaughlin. “Five Peace Band – Live” is a collection of songs that define the term “jazz virtuosity” to the utmost degree. Both releases are strong contenders in this category.
Jazz, THE American music art form must be defined, as well, by the Big Band…and as such, “Fun Time” – Sammy Nestico And The SWR Big Band provide and excellent definition of the big band aspect in every respect. Fun Time is an excellent release for any jazz lover’s collection.
When Latin Jazz is mentioned in a conversation, the discussion cannot go long without mention of the name Valdes! “Juntos Para Siempre” –
Bebo Valdés And Chucho Valdés define the state of Latin Jazz and wholeheartedly represent that in a Grammy nomination well chosen by The Academy.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t pay homage, at least in this post, to this year’s Grammy Jazz Honoree, the great jazz guitarist and legend, Mr Kenny Burrell. Suffice it to say, as a guitarist myself, he is my favorite and it is truly and honor to see him receive this auspicious award.
2009 was a great year for jazz and all the nominees in every subcategory represent America’s music with greatness!