Favorites In Jazz For The 61st Annual Grammy Awards

The 61st Annual Grammy® Awards are this Sunday, February 10th. For jazz fans worldwide, it is anyone’s guess as to who will win in the jazz categories. The field of nominations is outstanding.

This is JazzBuffalo’s take on favorites in each jazz category. Surely there will be agreements and disagreements. But one thing is clear. The music being produced in jazz by new and legendary jazz artists are nothing short of spectacular.

Best Improvised Jazz Solo

There are solos in this category making you wish that all can receive the award. Regina Carter, Fred Hersch, Miguel Zenon, and John Daversa each offer a compelling reason why they should win. The favorite in this category is the superb solo work of the esteemed pianist Brad Mehldau for his tune “De-Dah”. A catchy tune allowing him to stretch his immense sensibilities on piano.

Best Jazz Vocal Album

This year’s of vocal nominees include Freddy Cole, Kurt Elling, Kate McGary, Cecile McLorin Salvant, and Raul Midon. Salvant is aiming for her third Grammy. And, deserving it would be. This is a stunning duet with pianist Sullivan Fortner. None more so than “Somewhere”. Admittedly, having a weak spot for anything West Side Story, this is a favorite.

Best Jazz Instrumental Album

This category includes a newcomer in Tia Fuller and a legend in Wayne Shorter. Pianists Fred Hersch and Brad Mehldau are included. The favorite is Still Dreaming featuring Joshua Redman, Ron Miles, Scott Colley & Brian Blade. This is a firey album where each musician takes flight. Yet circles back impressively for special moments in unison. A richly vibrant album. The track “Unanimity” has both flight and unison elements.

Best Large Jazz Ensemble

An impressive selection of large ensembles in this category. Count Basie Orchestra, John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, Jim McNeely & The Frankfurt Radio Big Band, and John Daversa Big Band Featuring DACA Artists. Most impressive and a favorite is Orrin Evans And The Captain Black Big Band and their album Presence. The album is a live recording of the large ensemble in Philadelphia at Philly’s South Jazz Kitchen and Chris’ Jazz Cafe. It puts on display the composing, arranging, and musicianship of the new pianist for The Bad Plus. Which, is filled will energetic presence indeed.

Best Latin Jazz Album

The Latin Jazz Album category consists of some of the best Latin Jazz artists in jazz today. Eddie Daniels, Elio Villafranca, Dafnis Prieto Big Band, Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band, and Miguel Zenón Featuring Spektral Quartet. The favorite in this category is the monumental project by Elio Villafranca, Cinqué. The album takes listeners through the story of the slave, Joseph Cinqué, Noted in history for leading the uprising on the Spanish ship Amistad in 1839. After the ship was redirected to Long Island harbor near New York City, the case of their mutiny made it all the way the Supreme Court. Where, the slaves were found to be in their rights to mutiny. Elio’s compositions are emotionally moving with the language of the storytelling being music. Supported by outstanding musicians such as Steve Turré, Vincent Herring, and others, the album is a masterpiece. Mixed with historic traditional rhythms, we are in the midst of a special journey with each listening.

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