2013 Jazz Grammy® Preview #6 – Jazz in “Exile”

For our penultimate (I know that I said this would be the last one, but there will be one more after this) look at jazz artists nominated for Grammys in 2013, we will look at three categories in the R&B field that feature one artist who is generally considered to be a jazz musician. These albums/performances got no love from the Jazz Grammy nominating committee but those in the R & B area had the good taste to recognize them.

Best R&B Performance

“Thank You” – Estelle (from All of Me [Home School/Atlantic])

“Gonna Be Alright (F.T.B.) – Robert Glasper Experiment Featuring Ledisi (from Black Radio [Blue Note])

This is one of two nominations for Glasper’s much discussed Black Radio album. The heralded young jazz pianist let his R&B and hip hop influences show all over the disc. I for one found it exciting and refreshing (see CurtJazz’s Best Jazz Albums of 2012). Many other jazz traditionalists scoffed at it. On this track Glasper featured Ledisi, an R&B vocal powerhouse, who has also shown a past appreciation for jazzy things. If the track sounds familiar it’s because this is a vocal version of “F.T.B.”, which is a track on Mr. Glasper’s 2007 album In My Element. The lyrics and the stronger beat are a nice touch. Glasper is up against some tough competition here but to my ears “Gonna Be Alright” compares favorably with the other nominees… I wish him the best.

“I Want You” – Luke James [Mercury]

“Adorn” – Miguel [RCA/Bystorm Entertainment]

“Climax” – Usher (from Looking 4 Myself [RCA])

Best Traditional R&B Performance

(“Grown Folks Music”… Now we’re back in my wheelhouse! Therefore, I will drop a few comments)

“Lately” – Anita Baker [Blue Note]

Good to hear from Anita. Sounds like something from her classic ‘80’s period. Looking forward to the rest of the album.

“Love on Top” – Beyoncé (from 4 [Columbia])

Catchy tune by Mrs. Carter – great beat; irresistible hook.

“Wrong Side of a Love Song” – Melanie Fiona (from The MF Life [SRC])

My goodness! This girl can SANG! A memorable retro torch song.

“Real Good Hands” – Gregory Porter (from Be Good [Motéma])

Jazz vocalist Gregory Porter’s sophomore album was every bit as good as his debut.It was one of our Best of 2012.  But again, it was criminally ignored in the Jazz Vocal Grammy category. At least he did get a nod from the R&B voters for this soulful track. The cut is a winner but Porter is up against some real stiff competition. It’s a Grammy night long shot.

“If Only You Knew” – SWV (from I Missed Us [Mass Appeal/E1 Music])

SWV (Sisters With Voices). It’s good to hear this trio of NYC natives reunited. They sound as good as ever and they demonstrate excellent taste with their cover of this Philly Soul classic made famous by Patti Labelle.

Best R&B Album

Black Radio – Robert Glasper Experiment (Blue Note)

This nomination speaks volumes. The jazz world isn’t open minded enough to consider this work of art but the supposedly shallow, profit minded world of R&B is. I’ll say it again; I view this album as breaking needed new ground in a 21st century direction for jazz. But I admit to being in the minority. There are some fine albums in this category that are more along the lines of mainstream R&B, so a win here by Mr. Glasper isn’t probable but it is definitely possible.

Back to Love – Anthony Hamilton (RCA)

Write Me Back – R. Kelly (RCA)

Beautiful Surprise – Tamia (Plus 1)

Open Invitation – Tyrese (Voltron Recordz) 

You can hear tracks from Robert Glasper, Gregory Porter and other Grammy nominated jazz artists and albums on Curt’s Café Noir, our 24/7 web radio station,through February 10. We feature these tracks daily, from 4 pm – 6 pm on “The Grammy Show”. Click here to listen.

Our last post (we mean it this time!) about the 2013 Grammys will feature the nominees for “Best Instrumental Composition”, a category which happens this year to feature all jazz artists.

Until then, the jazz continues…

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