Jazz fans, you can’t say Sunday night’s Grammy Awards weren’t an improvement.
In addition to honoring bright young talent including pianist Robert Glasper in the R&B; category and bassist Esperanza Spalding, who followed her best new artist breakthrough in 2011 with a Grammy for jazz vocal album, the awards telecast offered a sliver of a performance of honest-to-goodness instrumental jazz.
Sure, if you counted, odds are pretty good that the all-star combination of Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Kenny Garrett paying tribute to the late Dave Brubeck with “Take Five” and “Blue Rondo a la Turk” only lasted roughly a minute or so. (Granted, if you went to grab a refreshment at the time, you might have missed it, and if you’re wondering why nobody invited a drummer, it’s a fair question.)
But still. Even as the performance acted as a brief interlude before Neil Portnow’s annual awards night address, we can at least be grateful that jazz wasn’t used as his background music, unlike what happened to Spalding in 2011 when she performed with a student ensemble as Portnow spoke.
Granted, on music’s biggest night, jazz was once again left at the fringes and perhaps always will be. But for a brief moment it was heard, which has to be considered progress.