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THE 40TH ANNUAL GRAMMY NOMINATIONS | JAZZ

Field of Safe, Strong Picks

January 07, 1998|DON HECKMAN

So what else is new? The Grammy jazz nominations follow a familiar pattern of making safe choices, largely chosen from the major label lineup of Blue Note, Verve, Columbia, Warner Bros., RCA, JVC, GRP and Concord.

Within this context, the best contemporary performance category again presents some of the strongest selections, with albums from Randy Brecker, Lee Ritenour, Patrice Rushen, Joe Sample and Grover Washington Jr. Very little smooth jazz there.

The best vocal category moves beyond last year's all-female cast with recordings by Mark Murphy and Kurt Elling, a Dee Dee Bridgewater outing and renominations for Shirley Horn and Diana Krall.

The best instrumental solo and best instrumental performance, individual or group categories also expand on 1997's more limited choices with a Doc Cheatham/Nicholas Payton duet and outings by Buddy DeFranco, Tommy Flanagan, Brad Mehldau, Kenny Garrett and Antonio Hart. Joe Lovano and Charlie Haden (with Pat Metheny) repeat, with Lovano (with five nominations in four years without a Grammy) hoping to avoid becoming the Susan Lucci of jazz.

The usually uneven best large ensemble performance grouping, more solid this year, features the Bill Holman big band and Anthony Wilson mini-band from L.A., and recordings by ensembles led by Joe Henderson, J.J. Johnson and Phil Woods.

And the most-diverse-of-all, best Latin performance category nominates Roy Hargrove's Crisol, Conrad Herwig, Carlos "Patato" Valdes, Banda Mantaqueira and Giovanni Hidalgo.

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