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2019 Grammy Nominations Announced

Miguel Zenón, Fred Hersch, John Daversa, Brad Mehldau, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Wayne Shorter, Orrin Evans, and Dafnis Prieto are among the jazz picks

Miguel Zenón
Miguel Zenón (photo courtesy of the artist)

The nominees for the 2019 Grammy Awards were announced Friday morning, Dec. 7. Pop stars like Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Lady Gaga, Childish Gambino, and Cardi B dominated the list. In the jazz categories, Miguel Zenón, Fred Hersch, Brad Mehldau, and John Daversa each received two nominations—Daversa for Best Improvised Jazz Solo and Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, the other three for Best Improvised Jazz Solo and Best Jazz Instrumental Album.

Interestingly, Hersch was nominated for his solo on Thelonious Monk’s “We See,” in a version recorded for the 2018 Live in Europe album. What makes that interesting? At the 2017 Grammys he was nominated for a solo on the same composition, as heard on the 2016 album Sunday Night at the Vanguard (John Scofield’s solo on “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” ended up winning that year’s award).

Other standout 2019 nominations include Cécile McLorin Salvant, for her duo album The Window; Wayne Shorter, for Emanon; Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band, for Presence; and the Dafnis Prieto Big Band, for Back to the Sunset.

In related categories, Terence Blanchard’s “Blut and Boden (Blood and Soil),” written for the soundtrack of Spike Lee’s film BlacKkKlansman, was nominated for Best Instrumental Composition, and Jon Batiste’s “Saint James Infirmary Blues” was nominated for Best American Roots Performance. We are also pleased to report that Ben Ratliff, a past JazzTimes contributor, received a Best Album Notes nomination for penning the notes to the Sonny Clark Trio archival album The 1960 Time Sessions.

The 61st Annual Grammy Awards ceremony will be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 10, 2019.


Below is a full list of the nominees in the jazz categories—which include Best Improvised Jazz Solo, Best Jazz Vocal Album, Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, and Best Latin Jazz Album—as well as the related fields of Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, Best Contemporary Instrumental Album, and Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals.

Best Improvised Jazz Solo

“Some of That Sunshine”
Regina Carter, soloist
Track from: Some of That Sunshine (Karrin Allyson)


“Don’t Fence Me In”
John Daversa, soloist
Track from: American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom (John Daversa Big Band Featuring DACA Artists)

“We See”
Fred Hersch, soloist
Track from: Live in Europe (Fred Hersch Trio)

Brad Mehldau, soloist
Track from: Seymour Reads the Constitution! (Brad Mehldau Trio)

Miguel Zenón, soloist
Track from: Yo Soy la Tradición (Miguel Zenón Featuring Spektral Quartet)


Best Jazz Vocal Album

My Mood Is You
Freddy Cole

The Questions
Kurt Elling

The Subject Tonight Is Love
Kate McGarry with Keith Ganz & Gary Versace

If You Really Want
Raul Midón with the Metropole Orkest Conducted by Vince Mendoza

The Window
Cécile McLorin Salvant

Best Jazz Instrumental Album


Diamond Cut
Tia Fuller

Live in Europe
Fred Hersch Trio

Seymour Reads the Constitution!
Brad Mehldau Trio

Still Dreaming
Joshua Redman, Ron Miles, Scott Colley & Brian Blade

The Wayne Shorter Quartet

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album

All About That Basie
The Count Basie Orchestra Directed by Scotty Barnhart


American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom
John Daversa Big Band Featuring DACA Artists

Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band

All Can Work
John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble

Barefoot Dances and Other Visions
Jim McNeely & the Frankfurt Radio Big Band

Best Latin Jazz Album

Heart of Brazil
Eddie Daniels


Back to the Sunset
Dafnis Prieto Big Band

West Side Story Reimagined
Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band

Elio Villafranca

Yo Soy la Tradición
Miguel Zenón Featuring Spektral Quartet

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album

Love Is Here to Stay
Tony Bennett & Diana Krall


My Way
Willie Nelson

Nat “King” Cole & Me
Gregory Porter

Standards (Deluxe)

The Music…the Mem’ries…the Magic!
Barbra Streisand

Best Contemporary Instrumental Album

The Emancipation Procrastination
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah

Steve Gadd Band
Steve Gadd Band


Modern Lore
Julian Lage

Laid Black
Marcus Miller

Protocol 4
Simon Phillips

Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals

“It Was a Very Good Year”
Matt Rollings & Kristin Wilkinson, arrangers
Track from: My Way (Willie Nelson)

Dan Pugach & Nicole Zuraitis, arrangers
Track from: Plus One (Dan Pugach Nonet)

“Mona Lisa”
Vince Mendoza, arranger
Track from: Nat “King” Cole & Me (Gregory Porter)


Gonzalo Grau, arranger
Track from: Dreamers (Magos Herrera & Brooklyn Rider)

“Spiderman Theme”
Randy Waldman, arranger
Track from: SuperHeroes (Randy Waldman Featuring Take 6 & Chris Potter)

Originally Published