Steve Pond, writing for The Wrap in 2020, listed a number of the not so illustrious historical past within the aptly titled “The Grammys and Black Music: A Timeline of Snubs and Embarrassments.”
On the first Grammys, the Greatest Rhythm & Blues Efficiency class was gained by a white group, the Champs, with “Tequila.” Ella Fitzgerald was the one African American nominated within the Report of the 12 months, Album of the 12 months and Track of the 12 months classes, which have been gained by Domenico Modugno’s “Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu (Volare)” (file and tune) and Henry Mancini’s “The Music From Peter Gunn” (album).
On the tenth Grammy present, one of many high three awards is lastly gained by black performers: The Fifth Dimension, who win Report of the 12 months for “Up, Up and Away,” written by white songwriter Jimmy Webb.
After 18 years, Natalie Cole turns into the primary black performer to win Greatest New Artist.
That snub of Ella Fitzgerald in 1959 was solely partial since she did win within the Greatest Jazz Efficiency, Particular person class, for Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Track Guide. Rely Basie additionally gained Greatest Jazz Efficiency, Group for Basie.
Give a hearken to a pattern from each:
Initially titled merely Basie, the award-winning album was later reissued as Atomic Basie.
Through the years, some stellar artists have gained within the jazz classes. Whereas I’ll be posting plenty of that music historical past within the feedback part, in the present day’s focus is on a few of this 12 months’s nominees in jazz.
I’ll be sincere with you: I’ve learn a number of tales lately about turmoil with this 12 months’s ceremony, which was postponed because of COVID-19. Frankly, I plan to disregard all of it. A lot of the drama is swirling round artists I don’t hearken to whose music I gained’t be shopping for. What I’m extra enthusiastic about exploring in the present day are these teams and people within the jazz classes. I’ve discovered some nice new music so as to add to my playlist.
Onto the nominees, from the Grammy web site:
Greatest Improvised Jazz Solo
For an instrumental jazz solo efficiency. Two equal performers on one recording could also be eligible as one entry. If the soloist listed seems on a recording billed to a different artist, the latter’s identify is in parenthesis for identification. Singles or Tracks solely.
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, soloist
Observe from: The Fingers Of Time (Weedie Braimah)
Kick These Ft
Kenny Barron, soloist
Observe from: Songs From My Father (Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trios)
Larger Than Us
Jon Batiste, soloist
Observe from: Soul (Authentic Movement Image Soundtrack) (Numerous Artists)
Terence Blanchard, soloist
Observe from: Absence (Terence Blanchard That includes The E Collective And The Turtle Island Quartet)
Humpty Dumpty (Set 2)
Chick Corea, soloist
Observe from: Akoustic Band Stay (Chick Corea, John Patitucci & Dave Weckl)
I fell in love with “Sackodougou” as quickly as I heard it. I’ve a deep love of music from West African traditions.
The Kennedy Heart affords fairly the complete bio for the nominated soloist, Christian Scott:
Chief Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah (born March 31, 1983, in New Orleans, Louisiana) is a two-time Edison Award successful and five-time Grammy Award nominated sonic architect, multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer, designer of revolutionary applied sciences and musical devices, Stretch Music file label and app firm founder, and topped Chieftain of the Xodokan Nation of the Black Tribes of New Orleans. He’s the grandson of legendary Massive Chief, Donald Harrison Sr., and the nephew of jazz innovator and legendary sax man, Massive Chief Donald Harrison, Jr. His musical tutelage started beneath the path of his uncle on the age of 13. After graduating from the New Orleans Heart for Inventive Arts (NOCCA) in 2001, Adjuah acquired a full tuition scholarship to Berklee Faculty of Music the place he earned a level in Skilled Music and Movie Scoring thirty months later […]
Adjuah is a scion of New Orleans’ first household of artwork and tradition, the Harrisons, and the grandson of legendary Massive Chief, Donald Harrison Sr., who led 4 nations of the Metropolis’s Black Tribes. The HBO collection Treme borrowed the storyline and the identify “Guardians of the Flame” from the group. Adjuah started as a member of his grandfather’s nation in 1989. In 2018, Tulane College’s acclaimed Amistad Analysis Heart introduced its archive of the Donald Harrison, Sr. legacy papers to focus on the Harrison/Scott/Nelson household’s contributions to the humanities, activism, and African diaspora cultural expressions. The Harrison household’s story has been documented by Oscar successful director, the late Jonathan Demme, in his post-Hurricane Katrina filmic works.
Adjuah is devoted to quite a few causes that positively influence communities. He provides his time and abilities in service to a number of organizations which garnered him a spot in Ebony Journal’s 30 Younger Leaders Underneath 30. He has supported or helps, by means of his time and expertise, Every One Save One, NO/AIDS Activity Power, Ladies First, The Mardi Gras Indian Corridor of Fame, Good Work Community, Black Lives Matter and quite a few different group service organizations. Holding grasp courses, creating and collaborating in dialogue panels, creating content material, and buying devices for youth music packages and particular person youth musicians are all a part of Adjuah’s community-based work. He has labored with Guardians Institute in New Orleans’ ninth Ward, which is devoted to studying and monetary literacy, cultural retention and a agency dedication to the participation of group elders and artists in uplifting and supporting youths in underserved areas of New Orleans. Adjuah at the moment sits on the Boards of Guardians Institute and The NOCCA Institute. Since Adjuah’s emergence on the jazz music scene, he has been a passionate and vocal proponent of human rights and an unflinching critic of injustices all through the world.
“Sackodougou” will be discovered on Weedie Braimah’s The Fingers Of Time, an album that’s now a part of my music library. Try this 2021 function on Braimah, from John Morrison at Bandcamp.
Weedie Braimah is a djembefola—a grasp of the djembe, a West African drum with a hole wooden physique and an animal pores and skin stretched and mounted excessive, the origins of which date again to the twelfth Century. Braimah, who was born in Ghana and raised in East St. Louis, is the product of a household whose musical historical past goes again centuries. His father, Oscar Sulley Braimah, was a grasp drummer and composer whose Uhuru Dance Band made outstanding data that bridged the hole between jazz and conventional African music. Braimah’s mom, Ann Morris was a gifted jazz drummer, and his great-uncle Idris Muhammad performed with everybody from Grant Inexperienced and Horace Silver to Pharoah Sanders and Roberta Flack, whereas additionally main his personal ensembles.
Braimah’s newest album The Fingers Of Time places the interconnectedness of African diasporic music into apply. That includes quite a lot of collaborators from world wide, compositions like “Full Circle,” “Categorical Prepare to Bamako,” and “Ship for Me” deftly fuse jazz with hip-hop and funk, whereas the sound of the djembe and the spirit of West Africa provides these fashionable kinds a timeless pulse.
Additionally nominated is Kenny Barron’s piano solo in “Kick These Ft.”
Barron’s private web site affords his bio.
Philadelphia is the birthplace of many nice musicians, together with one of many undisputed masters of the jazz piano: Kenny Barron. Kenny was born in 1943 and whereas a teen, began enjoying professionally with Mel Melvin’s orchestra. This native band additionally featured Barron’s brother Invoice, the late tenor saxophonist.
Whereas nonetheless in highschool. Kenny labored with drummer Philly Joe Jones and at age 19, he moved to New York Metropolis and freelanced with Roy Haynes, Lee Morgan and James Moody, after the tenor saxophonist heard him play on the 5 Spot. Upon Moody’s suggestion Dizzy Gillespie employed Barron in 1962 with out even listening to him play a word. It was in Dizzy’s band the place Kenny developed an appreciation for Latin and Caribbean rhythms. After 5 years with Dizzy, Barron performed with Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Turrentine, Milt Jackson, and Buddy Wealthy. The early seventies discovered Kenny working with Yusef Lateef who Kenny credit as a key affect in his artwork for improvisation. Inspired by Lateef, to pursue a university schooling, Barron balanced touring with research and earned his B.A. in Music from Empire State Faculty, By 1973, Kenny joined the college at Rutgers College as professor of music. He held this tenure till 2000, mentoring lots of in the present day’s younger skills together with David Sanchez, Terence Blanchard and Regina Bell. In 1974 Kenny recorded his first album as a frontrunner for the Muse label, entitled “Sundown To Daybreak.” This was to be the primary in over 40 recordings (and nonetheless counting!) as a frontrunner[…]
Whether or not he’s enjoying solo, trio or quintet, Kenny Barron is acknowledged the world over as a grasp of efficiency and composition.
As anybody who reads this column frequently is aware of, my favourite jazz class is vocals. As quickly because the nominees have been introduced I rushed to hearken to all of them!
Greatest Jazz Vocal Album
For albums containing a minimum of 51% enjoying time of recent vocal jazz recordings.
The Baylor Venture
Kurt Elling & Charlie Hunter
Songwrights Apothecary Lab
The Baylor Venture launched their album Generations, launched in celebration of Juneteenth and Black Music Month, with this video/audio montage.
Because the YouTube caption notes:
Set for launch throughout Black Music Month and on the eve of Juneteenth, this soulful sonic story quilt celebrates the universality of the human situation, considered by means of the lens of the Black expertise. Married musical companions Marcus and Jean Baylor welcome listeners to their proverbial kitchen desk, as they go on tales of household and religion, and love and legacy over the course of 9 unique compositions, and two covers.
Storytelling has at all times been central to the Baylor Venture’s artistic output, and so they have proven a specific adeptness at making their private tales universally felt. They accomplish this after which some on Generations, which shares poignant tales of the Black expertise, influenced by their very own distinctive perspective.
Storytelling can also be in proof in nominee Nnenna Freelon’s work. Right here’s little about her from Tom Jurek at AllMusic.
Nnenna Chinyere Freelon is a world-renowned jazz vocalist; she has recorded extensively and been nominated for quite a few Grammy Awards. Whereas this does not essentially set her other than different extra prolific feminine jazz singers, there may be one facet of her profession that does: she did not start recording till she was in her late thirties. She was born in Cambridge, MA, in 1954 as Nnenna Chinyere Pierce. She started singing at an early age in church, however did not pursue music as a profession till a long time later. She graduated from Simmons Faculty, with a level in well being care administration. She labored for a time in in social companies for Durham, NC’s hospital company. In 1979, she married Philip Freelon, an architect. The couple had three kids earlier than she started to contemplate a profession in music. She studied with Yusef Lateef, creating her singing by means of listening to horn gamers. Her huge break got here in 1990 whereas attending the Southern Arts Federation’s jazz assembly, and sitting in with Ellis Marsalis. Marsalis was doing A&R for Columbia Information’ Dr. George Butler on the time, and requested the singer for a tape, which he handed on to Butler, who signed her.
Freelon would go on to develop into a a number of Grammy nominee, although her life could be challenged by the dying of her beloved husband Phil Freelon. This album was her reply to that problem.
Because the YouTube caption notes:
Multi-Grammy nominated vocal artist Nnenna Freelon is again, delivering her eleventh album after a decade-long hiatus from the studio. With Time Traveler, she affords a celebration of affection and a prayer of hope for these dwelling with loss. The classes for the album stretched over two years, between 2018 and 2020, coinciding with the lack of Freelon’s soulmate and husband of forty years, Phil Freelon, to ALS. Freelon attracts from her & Phil’s shared love of jazz and rhythm and blues, to step by means of an imagined doorway the place previous, current and future collide. From the album’s centerpiece, a medley of Marvin Gaye classics, to requirements similar to “Come Rain or Come Shine” and “Moon River,” or her self-penned title tune, Freelon reminds us of the grace and class that naturally accompanies her strategy to deciphering melody. Impressed by her emotive glances to the previous, and soulful presence within the right here and now, she paints a portrait of reverence and gratitude for the reward of affection that permeates each facet of the human situation.
Freelon talks about her deep emotions and the therapeutic from grief that went into the making of the album.
After I began listening to the nominees for finest jazz instrumental album, I noticed some previous favorites of mine, together with some new names.
Greatest Jazz Instrumental Album
For albums containing a minimum of 51% enjoying time of recent instrumental jazz recordings.
Jazz Picks: Music From And Impressed By Soul
Terence Blanchard That includes The E Collective And The Turtle Island Quartet
Ron Carter, Jack DeJohnette & Gonzalo Rubalcaba
Akoustic Band LIVE
Chick Corea, John Patitucci & Dave Weckl
Aspect-Eye NYC (V1.IV)
I used to be instantly captured by the trio of bassist Ron Carter, drummer Jack DeJohnette, and pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba—they may simply match into the Latin Jazz class. Their rendition of the traditional bolero-son “Lagrimas Negras (Black Tears)” for me is sheer perfection.
On to the subsequent class.
Greatest Giant Jazz Ensemble Album
For albums containing a minimum of 51% enjoying time of recent ensemble jazz recordings.
Stay At Birdland!
The Rely Basie Orchestra Directed By Scotty Barnhart
Jazzmeia Horn And Her Noble Power
For Jimmy, Wes And Oliver
Christian McBride Massive Band
Solar Ra Arkestra
Yellowjackets + WDR Massive Band
Jazz huge bands are notoriously exhausting to take care of between the massive variety of folks required and the expense that comes with them. Within the Giant Jazz Ensemble Album class, the album devoted to jazz organist Jimmy Smith, guitarist Wes Montgomery, and saxophonist/clarinetist Oliver Nelson, the Christian McBride Massive Band continues the lengthy custom of massive bands—one which I hope we’ll by no means lose.
Nonetheless touring the spaceways regardless of the dying of Solar Ra in 1993, the Solar Ra Arkestra continues beneath the management of Marshall Allen, who’s 97 this 12 months.
I’ve been listening to Solar Ra since I used to be a teen, and there’s one thing magical about the truth that the band has not solely continued, however garnered one other Grammy nomination some 60 years later.
Final however mos’ def not least is Latin jazz—a style I’ve celebrated right here previously.
Greatest Latin Jazz Album
For vocal or instrumental albums containing a minimum of 51% enjoying time of newly recorded materials. The intent of this class is to acknowledge recordings that signify the mixing of jazz with Latin, Iberian-American, Brazilian, and Argentinian tango music.
Eliane Elias With Chick Corea and Chucho Valdés
The South Bronx Story
Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra
Dafnis Prieto Sextet
El Arte Del Bolero
Miguel Zenón & Luis Perdomo
I’m biased in Carlos Henriquez’s favor—he’s a graduate of my alma mater, now the LaGuardia Excessive Faculty of Music & Artwork and Performing Arts in New York Metropolis. On his web site, Henriquez says:
“Music Schooling has at all times been part of my life rising up in The South Bronx. If it wasn’t for the Arts packages that enabled me to have the chance to find out about this lovely music referred to as Latin-Jazz, who is aware of the place issues could be. I try to supply the identical to our subsequent technology of musicians with steering and data!!”
Right here’s Henriquez’s musical love letter to the South Bronx.
That is only a small sampling of this 12 months’s nominees. Please be a part of me for extra Grammys jazz, previous and current, within the feedback, and be sure you submit your picks.