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46th Annual Grammy Awards Preview: Jazz


The votes have been tallied and the tuxedoes rented for the music industry's biggest night of the year, the 46th Annual Grammy Awards on February 8 in Los Angeles. VOA's Doug Levine gives us a preview of this year's nominees in jazz.

The Crusaders reunited with three of its original members last year and earned a nomination in the Best Contemporary Jazz Album category for Rural Renewal. Stix Hooper, Joe Sample, Wilton Felder and Wayne Henderson probably had no idea their original mix of jazz, blues and R&B would have such staying power when they formed the Jazz Crusaders as high school students in Houston, Texas. Only Henderson opted to stay at home when The Crusaders made their impressive comeback.

Also in the running for the Contemporary Jazz Album award are The Yellowjackets, saxophonist David Sanborn, and trumpeters Randy Brecker and Nicholas Payton.

The top-rated jazz track is decided in the Best Jazz Instrumental Solo category. Looking for his first-ever Grammy Award is Hammond B-3 organ master Joey DeFrancesco for All Or Nothing At All, from his album Falling In Love Again, featuring singer Joe Doggs. "Joey D," 32, hails from Philadelphia, where he embraced the music of the city's best-known jazz organists, Jimmy Smith and Jimmy McGriff. Borrowing from funk and blues, Joey has had a near-flawless 14-year recording career. His competition for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo includes guitarist Pat Martino, and pianists Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett and Mike Melvoin.

The nominees for Best Jazz Vocal Album are Kurt Elling for Man In The Air, Shirley Horn for May The Music Never End, Dianne Reeves for A Little Moonlight, Luciana Souza for North And South, and Aaron Neville for Nature Boy: The Standards Album.

New Orleans crooner Aaron Neville in the Jazz Vocal category? That's right. Aaron himself admits that jazz was one of his first influences, saying "It was as much of my musical education as blues and funk."

With Nature Boy, the four-time Grammy Award winner returns to his roots on such notable standards as Come Rain or Come Shine and Summertime. Aaron Neville is also a nominee in the Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album category for Believe.

One of the nominees for Best Latin Jazz Album is Canadian. Toronto-born saxophonist and flutist Jane Bunnett fell in love with Latin music on her first trip to Cuba in 1982. Her return trips resulted in a string of recordings inspired by the country's rich musical heritage, including her Grammy-nominated album Cuban Odyssey. It was recorded in Cuba with local musicians and a group called The Afro-Cuban Rumba All-Stars.

Rounding out the nominees in the Best Latin Jazz category: Michel Camilo with Charles Flores and Horacio Hernadez, Mark Levine and The Latin Tinge, The Caribbean Jazz Project, and pianist Chucho Valdes.

In the Best Large Jazz Ensemble category, the nominees are The Carla Bley Big Band, Wayne Bergeron Big Band, Michael Brecker Quindectet, Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band, and the Gerald Wilson Orchestra.

Last but not least, the Best Jazz Instrumental Album by an Individual or Group category, featuring two nominees in the Best Jazz Instrumental Solo category: Chick Corea and Pat Martino. Also nominated are the Dave Holland Quintet, saxophonist Wayne Shorter and vibraphonist Stefon Harris.

The 46th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony will be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, on February 8.