Grammy Awards: Voters honor the late James Moody, familiar names in jazz

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While grousing about Grammy voters for playing it safe is pretty much an annual pastime, there’s little room for argument in their choice to honor the late James Moody in the jazz instrumental album category. An influential saxophonist who died of pancreatic cancer in December at 85 years old, Moody’s ‘Moody 4B’ is a warm and tradition-rich listen with a graceful sense of swing. Fellow nominees the Vijay Iyer Trio and Danilo Perez may have been more adventurous choices, but Moody’s first Grammy win was long overdue.

More disappointing was the win by the Mingus Big Band’s ‘Live at Jazz Standard’ in the large ensemble category. A long-running and often raucous group celebrating the late Charles Mingus’ songbook, their win comes at the expense of veteran bassist Dave Holland’s octet and Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, whose wildly inventive ‘Infernal Machines’ took the big band to previously undiscovered worlds.

Dee Dee Bridgewater was honored in the jazz vocal category with a vibrant tribute to Billie Holiday, ‘Eleanora Fagan (1915-1959): To Billie with Love from Dee Dee,’ and the Stanley Clarke Band beat out fellow fusion veteran John McLaughlin and New Orleans’ fiery Trombone Shorty in the contemporary jazz category. Chucho Valdéz and the Afro-Cuban Messengers were also winners in the Latin jazz category.

Other jazz players receiving honors were Billy Childs in a song from his album ‘Autumn: In Moving Pictures, Jazz-Chamber Music Vol. 2' in the instrumental composition category, and Vince Mendoza & Metropole Orkest’s collaboration with guitarist John Scofield were winners in the instrumental arrangement category with a piece from the album ’54.’


Complete list of winners after the jump.

Contemporary jazz album: The Stanley Clarke Band, ‘The Stanley Clarke Band’

Jazz vocal album: Dee Dee Bridgewater, ‘Eleanora Fagan (1915-1959): To Billie with Love from Dee Dee’

Improvised jazz solo: Herbie Hancock, ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ from ‘The Imagine Project’

Jazz instrumental album, individual or group: James Moody, ‘Moody 4B’

Large ensemble jazz album: Mingus Big Band, ‘Mingus Big Band Live at Jazz Standard’

Latin jazz album: Chucho Valdéz and the Afro-Cuban Messengers, ‘Chucho’s Steps

-- Chris Barton