Expressive jazz pianist Fred Hersch receives a Grammy spotlight


After a year that saw the release of his heartfelt memoir “Good Things Happen Slowly” and another splendid solo album, pianist Fred Hersch will again vie for his first Grammy Award after receiving two nominations in the jazz categories Tuesday morning.

The expressive “Open Book” was among the releases recognized in the jazz instrumental album category, which includes Bill Charlap’s “Uptown, Downtown,” Billy Childs’ “Rebirth,” “Project Freedom” by Joey DeFrancesco & the People and Chris Potter’s “The Dreamer Is the Dream.”

Potter and Childs also join Hersch in the improvised solo category, a field that features violinist Sara Caswell and fleet-fingered guitarist John McLaughlin, who was recognized for his work on “Miles Beyond,” a song from his Mahavishnu Orchestra days that appeared on his 2017 album, “Live at Ronnie Scott’s.” (McLaughlin comes to Royce Hall on Dec. 9 with what’s billed as his final U.S. tour.)


In the jazz vocal category, the ever-inventive Cécile McLorin Salvant received her third consecutive nomination in as many releases for the stirring live album “Dreams and Daggers.” Also nominated were the husband-and-wife team the Baylor Project, Raul Midón, the Randy Porter Trio with Nancy King and 26-year-old rising star Jazzmeia Horn, whose debut, “A Social Call,” came after winning the Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition in 2015.

Local bandleader John Beasley’s genre-skipping MONK’estra project also earned its second consecutive nomination in as many years in the large ensemble category for its latest set of rousing arrangements from the Thelonious Monk songbook, “MONK’estra Vol. 2.” The category includes “Bringing It,” the second big-band album from bassist Christian McBride, along with releases by groups led by Alan Ferber, Vince Mendoza and Chuck Owen.

Miguel Zenón’s vibrant “Tipico” leads the Latin jazz category, which also features albums by clarinetist Anat Cohen with Marcello Gonçalves, Pablo Ziegler, Antonio Adolfo and Jane Bunnett with her band Maqueque.

Across the genre divide, drummer Nate Smith’s buzzed-about “Kinfolk: Postcards from Everywhere” earned two nominations in the instrumental composition and arrangement categories. In addition to featuring more nominations for Mendoza and Owen along with Beasley’s MONK’estra, the field includes second-generation Afro-Latin bandleader Arturo O’Farrill and pianist Pascal Le Boeuf, whose composition “Alkaline,” for his collaboration with chamber group JACK Quartet, pulled at whatever definitions divide these categories.

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