It wasn't exactly an adventurous year for jazz Grammy nominations, with virtually no entries from such exciting young performers as Joshua Redman and Cyrus Chestnut. So it's no surprise that the academy, despite its professed interest in youth, chose to honor veterans and push aside the few young performers nominated.
Still, there's no arguing with the best jazz instrumental performance award for Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams, Wayne Shorter and Wallace Roney's "Tribute to Miles" album. In an otherwise not especially distinguished list of performances, the album stands out both as a reminder of the group's golden past and as world-class contemporary jazz.
There also can be little dispute with Benny Carter's Grammy for best jazz instrumental solo. The award probably has more to do with the still-active 87-year-old's lifetime achievement than with his current playing, but--let's give him credit--it is an important acknowledgment of his continuing vitality.
Etta James' award for best vocal performance also may have come as a belated acknowledgment for past work--she has never been honored for her pop or blues singing.