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Many Deserving Choices in a Year Without Superstars

February 18, 2001|DON HECKMAN

There may be no iconic figures present in this year's Grammy nominations, but there's still plenty from which to choose.

* Jazz vocal album: The ladies have a lock here, with Nnenna Freelon poised to make an upward career move. But the equally worthy Dianne Reeves and Dee Dee Bridgewater are almost as likely to win.

* Jazz instrumental album: Perennial nominee Michael Brecker should score here or in the instrumental solo category. Dave Holland, however, has delivered one of the year's most compelling outings.

* Jazz instrumental solo: Keith Jarrett or Pat Metheny seem the deserving winners. But one wishes Kenny Barron could pick up an award, here or in the best album grouping.

* Contemporary jazz album: The popular band Fourplay or new star Liquid Soul looks strong here. Bela Fleck's presence in other fields could dilute his support. But the Tim Hagans-Bob Belden duo album offers attractive new ideas in this stylistically predictable arena.

* Large jazz ensemble album: Joe Lovano's fine work should finally bring a much deserved win. Too bad it will be at the expense of Sam Rivers' imaginative Rivbea All-Star Orchestra.

* Latin jazz album: So much to choose from. Chucho Valdes has the visibility that wins Grammys. But the Danilo Perez and David Sanchez works are two of the year's finest outings, in any genre.

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