2013 Jazz Grammy® Preview #3 – Best Jazz Instrumental Album

The Best Jazz Instrumental Album race this year includes no surprises. Each nominee is a seasoned veteran with a strong following, so the race is likely to be close. Still, I would have loved to see a few of the younger (read: under 50) generation crack this lineup.

The nominees are:

Further Explorations – Chick Corea, Eddie Gomez & Paul Motian (Concord)

This disc also was nominated in the Best Improvised Jazz Solo category. It’s a two-disc Bill Evans tribute recorded live at the Blue Note in NYC. Mr. Corea is joined by two of Evans’ most renowned sidemen, Eddie Gomez on bass and the late Paul Motian on drums. Corea and company capture the essence of Evans while leaving just enough space for their own distinct musical personalities to peek through. A number of famed tracks written by or associated with Evans are here and everyone is on their game. It’s a nice homage to one of the legends of piano. Not my favorite of the bunch, but it’s a very fine album and it stands a pretty good chance of winning the Grammy.

Hot House – Chick Corea and Gary Burton (Concord)

The Grammy nominating committee can’t seem to help itself. If Chick Corea releases an album, they have to nominate it. Not that this is in any way a bad record, I just feel that there were a few more albums out there by artists with less familiar names that were more deserving. Mr. Corea and Mr. Burton have performed together many times over these decades and they have an outstanding musical rapport. The energy flags in spots, but it’s a solid album overall. Another possible Grammy night favorite because of who is involved.

Seeds from the Underground – Kenny Garrett (Mack Avenue)

This is my personal favorite of the nominated albums, one of our Best Jazz Albums of 2012 but it’s not likely to win because it is surrounded by legends. This is Mr. Garrett’s best album in over a decade. His band is tight, his solos are inspired and his writing is top-notch, with a couple of the tunes having the potential to become jazz standards. This is the third album by Garrett to get a Grammy nom. He is yet to win. Again, considering who the other nominees are, Mr. Garrett is a long shot in this category but I’m rooting for him.

Blue Moon – Ahmad Jamal (Jazz Village)

I said it in my Best Jazz Albums of 2012 post and I’ll say it again here – Blue Moon is Ahmad Jamal’s best album in four decades.  Mr. Jamal covers a program mostly consisting of standards from the Great American Songbook and jazz, with his usual flair. What sets this album apart is the strong support that he gets from his sidemen, Herlin Riley, Reginald Veal and Manolo Badrena. The results are thoroughly modern (as in 21st Century), yet also timeless. This is my sentimental favorite. Corea and Metheny are likely to beat him out, but I wouldn’t be at all disappointed if they didn’t.

Unity Band – Pat Metheny (Nonesuch)

Pat Metheny has won 19 Grammys (you read that right) over the course of his illustrious  recording career, so we know that the Grammy voters love him.  Unity Band is a return to a more conventional style after his experimental forays on his last few releases. It’s a kind of retrospective of the varied sounds that made him famous, so every Metheny fan will find something to like here. It’s also a very good album. The result – Pat Metheny will most likely win his 20th Grammy on February 10th.

These tracks and others from Grammy nominated jazz albums can be heard on Curt’s Café Noir, our 24/7 web radio station on Live365, right up until February 10. We feature these tracks daily, from 4 pm – 6 pm (EST) on “The Grammy Show”. Click here to listen.

The next Grammy post will feature the Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album – a category with only three nominees. Until then, The Jazz Continues…

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