2013 Jazz Grammy® Preview #4 – Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album

It’s kind of ironic that the Jazz Grammy category that honors recordings by a large number of musicians has the fewest number of recordings nominated. The Grammy nominating committee felt that only three large band recordings were worthy of competing for the award this year.  I can think of maybe a few others, such as Bobby Sanabria (who is nominated in the Latin Jazz Category), that may have deserved inclusion but overall, the nominators may have gotten this one right.

The nominated albums are:

Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans – Gil Evans Project (ArtistShare)

I love everything about this project. From these newly unearthed compositions by the great Gil Evans, to the marvelous arrangements fleshed out by Ryan Truesdell, a 32-year-old composer/arranger/producer, who shepherded this project through from concept, to recording, to release; to the fact that it was released through ArtistShare, which is IMO one of the best things ever to happen to jazz recordings, allowing projects that increasingly skittish record labels run from, to see the light of day.  The Evans family gave Mr. Truesdell access to a trove of Evans’ compositions spanning the breadth of his formidable career and Truesdell showed great judgment in what he chose to be a part of this album. Played by an all-star big band, Centennial is a towering achievement. Will it win the Grammy? Probably not, due to its relative obscurity.

I’m going to bend my rules here and include two video clips from Centennial: first an overview of the project and second, a completed track – “The Maids of Cadiz”.

For The Moment – Bob Mintzer Big Band (MCG Jazz)

Bob Mintzer has been leading a dynamite big band for much of the past 30 years. You can count on his recordings to feature intricate arrangements and a marvelous sound. For The Moment is no exception.  The twist here is that this is an album of Brazilian compositions, many of them by Chico Pinheiro a young Brazilian guitarist. The band is on the money, Mr. Pinheiro is a revelation as a guitarist and a composer and they manage to pull off a fine marriage of the sounds of Brazil and Mintzer. This fine project stands a good, not great, chance of taking home the award.

Dear Diz (Every Day I Think of You) – Arturo Sandoval (Concord)

This is a heartfelt tribute by Mr. Sandoval to one of his greatest mentors, Dizzy Gillespie. Ten of the eleven selections are new arrangements of tunes associated with Diz, the final selection is a touching vocal tribute by Sandoval.  I admit to liking but not loving this project. Though Mr. Sandoval, whom I love dearly, is in fine form and everything is extremely well-played, there is a polish to this entire production that borders on slickness (For this I blame producer Gregg Field, a very good drummer who may have been in the L.A. studios a bit too long for his own good).  Nevertheless, due to his renown relative to his competitors, Arturo Sandoval is the favorite to win on Grammy night.

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

The next Grammy post will feature the newly revived Best Latin Jazz Album category – one that I am very happy to see back on the list.

Until then, The Jazz Continues…

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