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2009 Grammy Awards

Jazz picks stick to a middle octave

Chick Corea and Randy Brecker delivered skillfully, but they weren't the forward-looking choices.

February 09, 2009|Chris Barton

In the can't-please-everybody proposition that is the Grammy Awards, it's difficult to find much fault in the Recording Academy's choice to again honor piano great Chick Corea with a best jazz instrumental album award.

Still, as close as Corea and vibraphonist Gary Burton might have come to recapturing the magic of the classic "Crystal Silence" released in 1972, it's hard not to think the voters again reached for the familiar name. Corea took home his 14th Grammy, yet Bill Frisell's inventive "History, Mystery" or the Brad Mehldau Trio's live set would have been more forward-looking choices.

Equally disappointing was the result of the best contemporary jazz album category. Voters honored trumpeter Randy Brecker's skillful but overly slick "Randy in Brasil." The "Miles From India" set, featuring dramatic re-imaginings of the Miles Davis songbook by India's top musicians teamed with past Davis collaborators, was one of the more striking jazz releases of the last year.

Elsewhere, trumpeter Terence Blanchard took home his fourth Grammy and his first in the instrumental solo category, and Cassandra Wilson earned her first award in the jazz vocal category since 1996's "New Moon Daughter" with her warm collection of standards, "Loverly."

The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra took home honors in the large jazz ensemble category with "Monday Night Live at the Village Vanguard," besting efforts from Carla Bley and Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band.


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