Thursday, December 20, 2007

Memo to Grammy Voters

The deadline for Grammy voting is January 9th, so presumably many Recording Academy members will be curling up in front of the fire with their ballots over the holiday. For those who have not given the jazz related categories much thought (if that’s even possible), here is some completely free blogospheric advice, presented in ballot order. (You can find the complete nominations for the jazz division here and the composing/arranging division here.)

The Best Contemporary Jazz Album usually seems like an odd catchall, with widely divergent nominees thrown together. I will post predictions closer to the telecast, but I expect Herbie Hancock’s Joni Letters has this sewn up. For those not sold on Hancock, I would recommend checking out Will Bernard. I’m not particularly well versed in these artists, but I like his funk and free improv approach.

Best Jazz Vocal Album is a strong field. Kurt Elling is also a deserving choice, but I would go with Freddy Cole. I actually met him briefly this year under strange circumstances, and he seemed legitimately nice. Those who do not live in The City might be interested in this commercial he shot for NY1, Time Warner’s New York news channel, on the Staten Island Ferry. It’s a respectful presentation of his vocal artistry and hopefully could even increase his fan base.

Even though my favorite track from Terence Blanchard’s A Tale of God’s Will was “Ashé,” “Levees” from the same release would probably be my choice for Jazz Instrumental solo. Of course, it would be hard to vote against Hank Jones in any category. However, you can vote for his live set with Joe Lovano, Kids: Live at Dizzy’s, for Best Jazz Instrumental Album.

Blanchard’s A Tale of God’s Will is a simply beautiful session that packs a real emotional punch. It would get my vote for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Recording. I was also happy to see Charles Tolliver’s With Love nominated. Tolliver should have been recorded far more than he has been, as this session proves.

I have blogged on Steve Wiest before. I like the man and his music, so it should not come as a surprise that I recommend him for the Best Instrumental Arrangement Category for “Besame Mucho.” Wiest enjoyed a long stint in the great Maynard Ferguson’s band, and his nominated chart has added significance for its inclusion on the trumpeter’s final CD, One and Only.

Again, these are my favorites, not my predictions. Unfortunately the two are not necessarily the same. If you are a Grammy voter, and do not mind a little internet jazz punditry, than I definitely recommend you go to the websites and myspace pages of these artists and check out their nominated work.