In a year that lacked some of the breakout narratives that have marked the jazz category in recent years — see Gregory Porter, Cecile McLorin Salvant — Grammy voters once more leaned on veteran or otherwise familiar talents for the bulk of the nominations field.
Porter, who won the Grammy for jazz vocal album in 2014, returns to lead the nominees in the same category for his follow-up, “Take Me to the Alley,” which was his second release for Blue Note Records. It will be competing against Tierney Sutton’s album-length salute to the Sting songbook, “The Sting Variations,” along with recordings by René Marie, Catherine Russell and Branford Marsalis, who teamed with Kurt Elling on “Upward Spiral.”
Thirteen-year-old piano prodigy Joey Alexander, whose 2015 debut earned two Grammy nominations, is nominated in the improvised jazz solo category for his performance in the song “Countdown,” which appeared on his sophomore album of the same name. The category also includes nominations for fellow pianists Fred Hersch and Brad Mehldau along with saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and guitarist John Scofield.