Scrolling down through this year’s Grammy nominations, at first I’m frustrated that it takes until category 46 before I get to the non-commercial, jazz/new-music type recordings. But then I take a step back for a minute and realize just how amazing the breadth of music represented on the list is. I mean, there’s even a whole category for polka.
You can personally dislike country or R&B or classical, you can criticize the whole Grammy process and everything it stands for, but I found looking at the list this morning kind of interesting—so many different types of artists with something to say. It might not represent very well the music you love (my favorites are not listed), but I would encourage you to check out the complete list for yourself and see who was nominated.
The roster is huge and editing it down to what you might loosely call the category of “non-commercial discs by American composers” is really impossible. Like many things in art, categories can help us speak about music in a general way, but they get muddled when you try and use them as a divider. So here are some points of interest that might entice you to check out the entire listing.
Best classical contemporary composition nominations went to Dominick Argento for Casa Guidi [Reference Recordings]; Benjamin Lees for Symphony No. 5 “Kalmar Nyckel” [Albany Records]; George Rochberg for Symphony No. 5 [Naxos]; and José Serebrier for Symphony No. 3 [Naxos].
In the best score soundtrack category, Philip Glass, Howard Shore, and Randy Newman were each nominated, as was John Williams (twice).
Christopher Theofanidis’s Rainbow Body (Jack Renner, engineer [Telarc]) and Ned Rorem’s Three Symphonies (Phil Rowlands, engineer [Naxos]) were among those nominated for the best engineered classical album. The Rorem disc (José Serebrier conducting the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra) was also among the best classical album and best orchestral performance nominees. Serebrier got another nod in the orchestral performance category for Serebrier: Symphony No. 3 (Carole Farley, soprano & Various Artists; Toulouse National Chamber Orchestra, [Naxos]). The Naxos recording of Edward Thomas’s opera Desire Under The Elms is up for best opera recording.
In the performance categories, Speculum Musicae’s recording of Carter’s Oboe Quartet [Bridge Records, Inc.] has been nominated in the chamber music category. Work by Dominick Argento shows up in the choral category (The Dale Warland Singers/[Gothic Records]) and vocal performance category (Casa Guidi/Frederica von Stade, [Reference Recordings]). Recordings of Beach’s Piano Concerto (Kenneth Schermerhorn, conductor; Alan Feinberg, piano (Nashville Symphony Orchestra) [Naxos]), and Svoboda’s Concerto For Marimba And Orchestra, Op. 148 (James DePreist, conductor; Niel DePonte, marimba (Oregon Symphony) [Albany Records]) where among the best instrumental soloist with orchestra nominees.
Vince Mendoza, Michael Brecker, Gordon Goodwin, Kim Richmond, and Wayne Shorter were recognized in the best instrumental composition category; Rob McConnell, Jim McNeely, John Fedchock, Jorge Calandrelli, Michael Brecker and Gil Goldstein, in the best instrumental arrangement category.
Jazz albums cover a lot of ground at the Grammys. Among the nominees for best jazz instrumental album were The Grand Unification Theory/Stefon Harris [Blue Note Records]; Rendezvous In New York/Chick Corea [Stretch Records]; Extended Play, Live At Birdland/Dave Holland Quintet [ECM Records]; Think Tank/Pat Martino [Blue Note Records]; and Alegría/Wayne Shorter [Verve Records]. Best jazz instrumental solo nods were given to Chick Corea, Joey DeFrancesco, Keith Jarrett, Pat Martino, and Mike Melvoin.
Best jazz vocal album nominations went to Man In The Air (Kurt Elling, [Blue Note Records]); May The Music Never End (Shirley Horn, [Verve Records]); Nature Boy – The Standards Album (Aaron Neville, [Verve Records]); A Little Moonlight (Dianne Reeves, [Blue Note Records]); and North And South (Luciana Souza, [Sunnyside]). Best large jazz ensemble album nominations went to Looking For America/The Carla Bley Big Band [Watt Works/ECM Records]; You Call This A Living?/Wayne Bergeron Big Band [Wag Wecords]; Wide Angles/Michael Brecker Quindectet [Verve Records]; XXL/Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band [Silverline]; and New York New Sound/Gerald Wilson Orchestra [Mack Avenue Records].