Well what’s to think about the Grammy nominations just announced? I know what you’re saying: they don’t really have much bearing on jazz certainly on this side of the Atlantic but whenever anyone is nominated suddenly everything changes! And I must say when singer Norma Winstone was nominated a few years back it certainly made a difference at least in perception terms and the continued faith of her record company. Anyway here’s my take on who will win and who should win when the big day comes around.

Best Improvised jazz solo

‘Cross Roads’ Ravi Coltrane. Track from: Spirit Fiction Blue Note

‘Hot House’ Gary Burton & Chick Corea. Track from: Hot House Concord Jazz

‘Alice In Wonderland’ Chick Corea. Track from: Further Explorations (Chick Corea, Eddie Gomez & Paul Motian) Concord Jazz

‘J. Mac’ Kenny Garrett. Track from: Seeds From The Underground Mack Avenue Records

‘Ode’ Brad Mehldau. Track from: Ode (Brad Mehldau Trio) Nonesuch

Pretty good choices. A return to form for Garrett for sure. This category is probably the most subjective of the jazz ones, and it’s interesting that all the artists play in the post-bop domain and with the exception of Garrett record for major labels. The Grammys are in many ways all about the big labels. Will win: Chick Corea. Should go to: Kenny Garrett

Best Jazz Vocal Album

Soul Shadows Denise Donatelli Savant Records

1619 Broadway: The Brill Building Project Kurt Elling Concord Jazz

Live Al Jarreau (And The Metropole Orkest) Concord

The Book Of Chet Luciana Souza Sunnyside Records

Radio Music Society Esperanza Spalding Heads Up International

Donatelli is a surprise inclusion, unknown outside America, and it’s good to see Souza long on many people’s radar getting recognition.

Will win: Esperanza Spalding. Should win: Esperanza Spalding

Best Jazz Instrumental Album

Further Explorations Chick Corea, Eddie Gomez & Paul Motian Concord Jazz

Hot House Chick Corea & Gary Burton Concord Jazz

Seeds From The Underground Kenny Garrett Mack Avenue Records

Blue Moon Ahmad Jamal Jazz Village

Unity Band Pat Metheny Unity Band Nonesuch

A strong list. Chick is a Grammy darling and you can’t rule him out here especially as his reimagining of Bill Evans on Further Explorations was such an imaginative exercise, and a poignant reminder of the much missed Motian. But, the big but, with Pat Metheny also in the running (the most beGrammied jazz musician ever) and more importantly the sheer vitality of his “with sax" Unity Band quartet he’s nominated for this time the Academy might just be swayed once again in his favour. It should be Ahmad Jamal’s year, but let’s not hold our breath even though the album is a credit to the great Pittsburgian and a wake-up call to pianists half or even a quarter of his age.
Will win:
Unity Band. Should win: Blue Moon

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album

Centennial: Newly Discovered Works Of Gil Evans Gil Evans Project ArtistShare

For The Moment Bob Mintzer Big Band MCG Jazz

Dear Diz (Every Day I Think Of You) Arturo Sandoval Concord Jazz

Bit of a ho hum selection (and only three names), although they’re all class acts. The Evans album is also up for a Jazz FM award in January. Will win: Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans. Should win: Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans

Best Latin Jazz Album

Flamenco Sketches Chano Domínguez Blue Note

¡Ritmo! The Clare Fischer Latin Jazz Big Band Clare Fischer Productions/Clavo Records 

Multiverse Bobby Sanabria Big Band Jazzheads

Duos III Luciana Souza Sunnyside Records

New Cuban Express Manuel Valera New Cuban Express Mavo Records

Hard to predict this one but Domínguez is the coming man with the primatur of no less a figure than Wynton Marsalis in his back catalogue, although Sanabria could get the nod. Will win: Flamenco Sketches Should win: Flamenco Sketches

In other major categories Gregory Porter is surely a shoo-in for ‘Real Good Hands’ in the best traditional R&B performance category (why’s he not in jazz vocals?), and Hugh Masekela is up for a world music nod (again, categories, categories). Robert Glasper again is not in a jazz category but is up for best R&B album for Black Radio and best R&B performance for the Ledisi track ‘Gonna Be Alright (F.T.B)’, a sign the way his career is perceived to be going, and Dr John is nominated for the very fine Locked Down in the blues category. Finally, the category no one wants to be in and what a grisly list. I give you the pop instrumental album nominees with Gerald Albright & Norman Brown, Chris Botti, Larry Carlton, Arun Shenoy, and of course Dave Koz, all vying for the accolade no-one surely can want. Shhh, it’s mostly smooth jazz.

Stephen Graham

Pictured above: Kenny Garrett up for two Grammys