Here’s what we picked out, some from the jazz categories; some from beyond.
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album:
“Love Is Here To Stay” —Tony Bennett & Diana Krall
“My Way” — Willie Nelson
“Nat “King” Cole & Me” — Gregory Porter
Standards (DELUXE) —
THE MUSIC…THE MEM’RIES…THE MAGIC! —
Best Contemporary Instrumental Album:
“The Emancipation Procrastination” — Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah
“Steve Gadd Band” — Steve Gadd Band
“Modern Lore” — Julian Lage
“Laid Black” — Marcus Miller
Best Urban Contemporary Album:
“Everything Is Love” — The Carters
“The Kids Are Alright “— Chloe x Halle
“Chris Dave And The Drumhedz” — Chris Dave And The Drumhedz
“War & Leisure” — Miguel
“Ventriloquism” — Meshell Ndegeocello
Best Improvised Jazz Solo:
“Some Of That Sunshine” — Regina Carter, soloist
“Don’t Fence Me In” — John Daversa, soloist
“We See” — Fred Hersch, soloists
“De-dah” — Brad Mehldau, soloist
“Cadenas” — Miguel Zenón, soloist
Best Jazz Instrumental Album:
“Diamond Cut” — Tia Fuller
“Live In Europe” — Fred Hersch Trio
“Seymour Reads The Constitution!” — Brad Mehldau Trio
“Still Dreaming” — Joshua Redman, Ron Miles, Scott Colley & Brian Blade
“Emanon” — The Wayne Shorter Quartet
Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album:
“All About That Basie” — The Count Basie Orchestra Directed By Scotty
“American Dreamers: Voices Of Hope, Music Of Freedom” — John Daversa Big Band Featuring DACA Artists
“Presence” — Orrin Evans And The Captain Black Big Band
“All Can Work” — John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble
“Barefoot Dances And Other Visions” — Jim McNeely & The Frankfurt Radio Big Band
Best Latin Jazz Album:
“Heart Of Brazil”— Eddie Daniels
“Back To The Sunset”— Dafnis Prieto Big Band
“West Side Story Reimagined”— Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band
“Cinque”— Elio Villafranca
“Yo Soy La Tradición” — Miguel Zenón Featuring Spektral Quartet
Another safe list with mainly very well known names and stocked full of veterans and the great and the good. Put it another way the Grammys are only a rough, rough indicator of what really is going on out there quality wise globally in contemporary jazz. There is very little here that reaches out beyond the US to the UK and the wider European scene (which is usually dominated by the likes of the ECM label) does not feature much unless you really peer closely which is odd given the acclaim a lot of Euro jazz receives in leading US jazz publications and websites. Stylistically too avant jazz, which is a huge constituency within world jazz, gets hardly a mention at all and that is just one significant tranche of a sub-genre missing although this neglect is not new. In Grammyland jazz tends to swing a bit more than in some notions of the music and that shows how out of step with a whole range of post-swing jazz styles the awards are. It is surprising too that Kamasi Washington album Heaven and Earth is not in the running. Finally, some categories like “best contemporary instrumental album” are clumsily named and continue to need clarification rather than stand obviously for what they are designed to represent. SG
Best Jazz Vocal Album:
“My Mood Is You” — Freddy Cole
“The Questions” — Kurt Elling
“The Subject Tonight Is Love” — Kate McGarry With Keith Ganz & Gary Versace
“If You Really Want” — Raul Midón With The Metropole Orkest Conducted By Vince Mendoza
“The Window” — Cécile McLorin Salvant [above]
Best American Roots Performance:
“Kick Rocks” — Sean Ardoin
“Saint James Infirmary Blues” — Jon Batiste
“The Joke” Brandi Carlile
“All On My Mind” — Anderson East
“Last Man Standing” — Willie Nelson
Best Instrumental Composition:
“Blut und Boden (Blood and Soil)” — Terence Blanchard, composer (Terence Blanchard)
“Chrysalis” — Jeremy Kittel, composer (Kittel & Co.)
“Infinity War” — Alan Silverstri, composer (Alan Silvestri)
“Mine Mission” — John Powell & John Williams, composers (John Powell & John Williams)
“The Shape of Water” — Alexandre Desplat, composer (Alexandre Desplat)
Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella:
“Batman Theme (TV)” — Randy Waldman & Justin Wilson, arrangers (Randy Waldman Featuring Wynton Marsalis)
“Change The World” — Mark Kibble, arranger (Take 6)
“Madrid Finale” — John Powell, arranger (John Powell)
“The Shape of Water” — Alexandre Desplat, arranger (Alexandre Desplat)
“Stars and Stripes Forever” — John Daversa, arranger (John Daversa Big Band Featuring DACA Artists)
Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals:
“It Was a Very Good Year” — Matt Rollings & Kristin Wilkinson, arrangers (Willie Nelson)
“Jolene” — Dan Pugach & Nicole Zuraitis, arrangers (Dan Pugach)
“Mona Lisa” — Vince Mendoza, arranger (Gregory Porter)
“Niña” — Gonzalo Grau, arranger (Magos Herrera & Brooklyn Rider)
“Spiderman Theme” — Randy Waldman, arranger (Randy Waldman Featuring Take 6 & Chris Potter)
Best Album Notes:
“Alpine Dreaming: The Helvetia Records Story, 1920-1924” — James P. Leary, album notes writer (Various Artists)
“4 Banjo Songs, 1891-1897: Foundational Recordings of America’s Iconic Instrument” — Richard Martin & Ted Olson, album notes writers (Charles A. Asbury)
“The 1960 Time Sessions” — Ben Ratliff, album notes writer (Sonny Clark Trio)
“The Product of Our Souls: The Sound and Sway of James Reese Europe’s Society Orchestra” — David Gilbert, album notes writer (Various Artists)
“Trouble No More: The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981” — Amanda Petrusich, album notes writer (Bob Dylan)
“Voices of Mississippi: Artists and Musicians Documented by WIlliam Ferris” — David Evans, album notes writer (Various Artists)
Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical:
Best Music Film:
“Life in 12 Bars”— Eric Clapton, Lili Fini Zanuck, video director; John Battsek, Scooter Weintraub, Larry Yelen & Lili Fini Zanuck, video producers
“Whitney” — (Whitney Houston), Kevin Macdonald, video director; Jonathan Chinn, Simon Chinn & Lisa Erspamer, video producers
“Quincy” — Quincy Jones Alan Hicks & Rashida Jones, video directors; Paula DuPré Pesmen, video producer
“Itzhak”— Itzhak Perlman, Alison Chernick, video director; Alison Chernick, video producer
“The King” — (Elvis Presley), Eugene Jarecki, video director; Christopher Frierson, Georgina Hill, David Kuhn & Christopher St. John, video producers
A new album by acclaimed saxophonist composer bandleader Trish Clowes is in the offing for 2019. Trish explains a little to marlbank about what we can expect: “We’re bringing out a new My Iris album on Basho in the spring, we have a launch gig at the Pizza Express Dean St on May 7th (there’ll be other dates too). We played/previewed two of the new tracks at the Barbican a couple of weeks ago when we supported Avishai Cohen, ‘Lightning Les’ and ‘Free to Fall’. One of the tracks on the album is live, recorded whilst we were on tour in Ireland earlier this year.” SG
Ross Stanley, above left, James Maddren, Trish Clowes and Chris Montague performing on an earlier occasion in the Pizza Express Jazz Club, London. Photo: Dannie Price.
Catch-up time — Turas came out earlier in 2018 and worth mentioning all these months on because it was a thrill earlier this year given my unforgiveable lapse at not reviewing the record making up for it a tiny bit at least by hearing Fergus McCreadie play a club gig in London with the Matt Carmichael Quartet.
It certainly roused me out of my slumber and surprised me at the time and in retrospect was one of my gigs of the year. Not long afterwards I bumped into the pianist lurking in the shadows at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards but he did not win, ridiculously, that night. He did not seem to bear much of a grudge as he picked up an award for the Glaswegian promoter Jill Rodger who could not make it to Holborn that night. Fergus hardly needs the parliamentarian parchment because his debut, all bright voicings, melodic, folky, containing a lilt to Turas that is never trite or too homely — the work of the McCreadie trio legislates all by itself.
The title, the language scholars among you will know, is a Gaelic word for that X Factor much used-and-abused noun of choice “Journey”. McCreadie, who writes the tunes, is with David Bowden on double bass and Stephen Henderson on drums in solid support and cleanly recorded by Liane Carroll’s favourite producer/studio engineer James McMillan working from his own studio.
The style and sense of flow of the tracks are very mature, and regards McCreadie it does not take a genius or very long at all to realise that the pianist has Loch Ness Monster-sized chops, or if you prefer think Brian Kellock-meets-Gwilym Simcock preferably not on a boat, less trad than Kellock and not at all jazz-rock going on prog as is Simcock’s wont but the common ground they share applies.
When McCreadie moves full tilt into an improvisation it is completely Jarrett-fluent circa My Song in terms of feel and composure, swings like the clappers and has a real passion to it sometimes aided by say on ‘The Set’ the metrical rigour and discipline of a reel, kilts flying, sporrans ever more dubiously dangling as the trio go ape and a delirium of sorts seems to set in.
How rare is that? Answers, suggestions, advice, recipes perhaps not, on a postcard to Santa’s little helper c/o the Jazz Grotto. Why not, while at it, scribble a kindly request for this as a stocking filler addressed to one of your nearest and dearest’s come sleigh time? Santa won’t mind.
COLLECTOR Fond of shrink wrap, shelving, spines.
GIGGER Into the atmosphere, a sherry beforehand, the occasional pie.
DJ Digs a beat. Bangers. Haircuts.
MUSICIAN WANNABE Plays air Tubby, air Airto, ’ardly ever at home.
SHOWBIZ SPOTTER Turns up for Jeff Goldblum. Loves life-size cut-outs.
It is easy to forget given the understandable hoopla surrounding the 50th anniversary of Astral Weeks that fell recently that Van Morrison keeps on putting out new records.
Of the two 2018 albums the better of the pair was certainly the much less, scratch that, not at all, patchy You’re Driving Me Crazy, which made it into the list of marlbank albums of the year.
This new one released today and which shares much of the same formula as its predecessor has its gently swinging blues and jazz soaked moments. It somehow feels a lot tamer however even with gutsy blues input including a cover of a John Lee Hooker song, ‘Dimples’, turning a twirling boogie of a thing that Van has been playing for years and years into a gauzy canter.
To be fair we do not turn to a Van Morrison album for a riot of rattle and hum, that was never the point as long ago as the yearningly poetic Astral Weeks although before that Them gave it the welly.
But you do get a proletariat earthiness still in the shout and wail of that astonishing voice and it is still present and correct and derives from the urban blues usually flashed up by searing harmonica or the precision groove of the formidable Joey DeFrancesco band.
The originals always along with that voice the best thing about any Van Morrison album have not pulled me in so far apart from the spiky title track which nonetheless instantly grabbed me.
Their charms may well grow on me — they usually do because this whole style Van has long championed is not fast food music by a long chalk. Return to its brother release for the best choice of main course to keep the hunger pangs away until the next one comes along. SG
Photo of Van Morrison: Richard Wade.
Few British entrepreneurs have invested as much hard cash as well as genuine love in and for jazz and employed so many jazz musicians over many decades as Peter Boizot, who has died aged 89. He founded the Pizza Express restaurant chain in 1965 and made jazz the soundtrack of his restaurants. He opened the first of his many restaurants in Wardour Street in Soho not far from the illustrious jazz club which still is at the heart of UK jazz on Dean Street. He also later published a jazz magazine Jazz Express and presented the Soho Jazz Festival for many years. Tributes are pouring in. Pizza Express managing director Zoe Bowley told the Daily Mail: “In his 89 years, this remarkable entrepreneur achieved an astonishing amount, not just within the dining industry, but across music, sport, and charity as well.”