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Grammy Winners

Editor, Andrew Bartlett

Featured This Month:


On the heels of Ken Burns's sometimes hotly contested Jazz PBS series, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences has proffered their batch of Grammy awards on the jazz community once again. It goes without saying that jazz is a living, breathing, mutating art form, and this year's award winners show that growth generously.

Best Contemporary Jazz Album
Winner:

Outbound
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones
Banjo maestro Bela Fleck wins listeners with whatever he touches. Outbound features his electric jazz-fusion combo the Flecktones (as opposed to his more rootsy acoustic bandmates on albums such as The Bluegrass Sessions). Fleck and his 'Tones do a fine job here, and this award recognizes Bela's versatility and staying power.

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Our Pick:

Here's The Deal
Liquid Soul
If the Best Contemporary Jazz Album award was looking to predict the future direction of jazz, it would end up with Liquid Soul's acid jazz/funk throwdown Here's the Deal, which wins a tug-of-war with Tim Hagans and Bob Belden's dance-club tempered Re-Animation: Live! Liquid Soul has their fingers on the dance-floor pulse and jams thoroughly.

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Best Jazz Vocal Album
Winner:

In The Moment: Live In Concert [LIVE]
Dianne Reeves
Dianne Reeves commands the same jazz terrain that Sarah Vaughan made her own; that is, Reeves easily crosses from jazz to pop and stops at many points in between, just as Vaughan did. Consider In the Moment's mix: Jobim, Mongo Santamaria, Cat Stevens, and Cole Porter, among others. As she receives this Grammy, Reeves is riding high on an apt new CD, The Calling: Celebrating Sarah Vaughan.

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Our Pick:

Live At Yoshi's [LIVE]
Dee Dee Bridgewater
For every genre-stretching step in Diane Reeves's repertoire, Dee Dee Bridgewater has a more streamlined, rock-solid answer. Of course, they're terrifically different singers. Bridgewater's Live at Yoshi's is a sleek, rocking set that puts her agile chops to the test. The good news? She sounds better than ever.

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Best Jazz Instrumental Solo
Winner:

Trio 99-00
Pat Metheny Trio
"(Go) Get It": Here's why guitarist Pat Metheny won in 2000: because Trio 99-00 wasn't just a CD. The band, with drummer Bill Stewart and bassist Larry Grenadier, was a road-tested unit that followed their studio album with a great two-CD concert set, Trio Live, that showed incredible rapport. "(Go) Get It" is a track that will wow Metheny's fusion fans as well as anyone who has a fondness for (or fanatical devotion to) jazz guitar.

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Our Pick:

Metheny's prior attempts at recording trios were big creative successes, but none of them led to as rich a group-oriented interplay as the 99-00 trio's.



Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual, or Group
Winner:

Contemporary Jazz
Branford Marsalis Quartet
With Contemporary Jazz, Branford Marsalis focused on a straight-ahead acoustic jazz quartet session that's at once ambitious, easy to love, and relaxed. Pianist Joey Calderazzo sounds great here, as does Branford, who blows lyrically and wildly without ever indulging one muse too much.

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Our Pick:

Prime Directive
Dave Holland Quintet
As much as Contemporary Jazz is a deserving session, bassist Dave Holland's Prime Directive is an even more deserving nominee. Holland's band intermingles straight-up jamming with a melodic inventiveness whose range recalls that of Charles Mingus. Holland's resonant bass and saxophonist Chris Potter's boundless talents, joined with vibist Steve Nelson's colorful additions, help make Prime Directive a should-have-won.

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Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album
Winner:

52nd Street Themes
Joe Lovano Nonet
Tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano's tribute to the bebop era centers around Tadd Dameron, with whom Lovano's father and the album's prime arranger, Willie "Face" Smith, both played. He vigorously runs down these tunes, never hurrying to deconstruct them, but honoring them, and then showing how flexible they can be with his killer nine-piece band.

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Our Pick:

Culmination
Sam Rivers, Rivbea All-Star...
No matter how great Lovano is in any given year, he's not likely to eclipse the unflagging, tireless genius of Sam Rivers. The version of Rivers's long-standing RivBea Orchestra on Culmination adds the name All-Star to denote just how many giants are in the sprawling band. The tunes are spiky, funky, swirling works of incredible depth.

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Best Latin Jazz Album
Winner:

Live At The Village Vanguard [LIVE]
Jesus "Chucho" Valdes
Chucho Valdes is a whirlwind pianist. His torrential intensity on the piano is fully suited to the music on this live set. The percussion that underscores Valdes's prancing, jumping piano adds a rumble that makes this a Cuban delight. As an arranger, Valdes brings several Caribbean standards to the fore here, always painting them in the most intensely fun colors possible.

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Our Pick:

Valdes is perfect for the task at hand here. He's a brilliant synthesizer who can bring Art Tatum and Thelonious Monk to bear on the bustling sounds of Cuba. We've come to expect a certain sound from the Cuban music movement, and Valdes adds generously to the tradition.



Best Instrumental Arrangement
Winner:

Corea Concerto [LIVE]
Chick Corea
"Spain for Sextet & Orchestra": Chick Corea and his sextet play here alongside a richly arranged orchestral accompaniment. The CD heralds Corea's return to the acoustic jazz stage and it delights with energy and feeling and sprawls with ambition.

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Our Pick:

Nice Work
Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra
"Nice Work if You Can Get It": Here's a case where semistandard jazz practice should've won more accolades. Pianist, arranger, composer, and bandleader Jim McNeely's work on Gershwin's "Nice Work if You Can Get It" (and throughout Nice Work) is simply stunning. He's Ellingtonian in using the band as an instrument and adds colors to Gershwin's chestnut that aren't even in other arrangers' crayon boxes.

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Miscellaneous Jazz Winners
Awards: Best Boxed Recording Package & Best Album Notes

The Complete Columbia Recordings [BOX SET]
Miles Davis, John Coltrane
It's about time we got around to a full accounting of the fruits of Miles Davis and John Coltrane's collaborations outside Kind of Blue. The Complete Columbia Recordings wins here for Best Boxed Recording Package and Best Album Notes and is the clear winner in both categories. The bookbinding and deep-red slipcase are absolute winners, and the notes are comprehensive and compelling.

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Award: Best Historical Album

The Complete Hot Five... [BOX SET]
Louis Armstrong
Columbia Records's Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings isn't necessarily the definitive audio version of Louis Armstrong's nonpareil Jazz Age classics. But this presentation of the tunes makes the set worthy of its award. The book is outstanding, and the music is some of the century's best--an obvious choice in the Historical Album category.

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Award: Best Male Pop Vocal Performance

A Love Affair: The Music Of Ivan Lins
Cole, et al
"She Walks This Earth (Soberana Rosa)" by Sting: It seems strange to celebrate Sting from a jazz perspective in the Grammys, but consider this: the track Sting was awarded for comes from the celebrated tribute to Brazilian pop-jazz songwriter Ivan Lins. Sting helps cement the case for Lins as his generation's closest thing to Antonio Carlos Jobim.

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All Grammy Winners
So after all the hype and big-name performances, did the 43rd annual Grammy Awards live up to your expectations? Check out all the nominees and winners on our Grammys page.

Complete list of Grammy nominees and winners




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Jazz Editor's Picks



Bargain Jazz

Fresh Latin Jazz
Mambo Blizzard
With the passing of Tito Puente, Latin jazz percussion needs an album like Snowboy and the Latin Section Play Afro Cuban Jazz. Mark "Snowboy" Cotgrove's grooves are deliriously intense, as is the Latin Section's tapestry of horns and rhythm and motion. Snowboy's got himself one of the year's best jazz albums.
 More Fresh Latin Jazz


New Fusions
Jazz Rocks
The instersection of rock and jazz has fueled many fires in the late1990s, not the least of which was the one heating drummer Steve Smith's rhythmic engine. With VTT2, bassist Victor Wooten and guitarist Scott Henderson join Smith in a bountiful, jumping exploration of jazz fusion, again under the Vital Tech Tones moniker.
 More Jazz Fusion Picks


Great Jazz, Great Price
32 by 32
The folks at 32 Jazz are busy reissuing albums from the 1950s and on, many from the vast Atlantic Records catalog and still more from the now-defunct Muse vaults. Tracks from their array of releases--including titles by Sonny Stitt, David "Fathead" Newman, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Hank Jones--crop up, as well, on various mood-oriented compilations. It's all of a piece and all bargain-priced. Here are 32 selections from their catalog that will soothe the ears and jostle the soul.

  Read Amazon.com's list


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