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Jazz Grammy Nominees Announced

Joshua Redman, Gerald Clayton, and Chick Corea get two nominations apiece; John Beasley has four

Joshua Redman
Joshua Redman (photo: Michael Wilson)

The nominees for the 2021 Grammy Awards were announced on Tuesday. It was a banner year for female nominees, with women taking five of the eight nominations for both Record of the Year and Best New Artist, and sweeping the Best Rock Performance category. (Nine nominations went to Beyoncé, already the most nominated woman in Grammy history.)

In the jazz categories, Joshua Redman, Gerald Clayton, and Chick Corea each received two nominations—in all three cases for Best Improvised Jazz Solo and Best Jazz Instrumental Album. In an interesting twist, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade also each received two nominations—as band members on Redman’s and Corea’s nominated albums.

Redman’s album nomination was for RoundAgain, which also featured pianist Brad Mehldau along with McBride and Blade—a reunion of the quartet that made Redman’s 1994 album MoodSwing. Corea’s album, too, featured McBride and Blade in a “sequel” recording: Trilogy 2, the follow-up to 2013’s Trilogy with the same personnel.

More nominations—a remarkable total of four—went to pianist, composer, and bandleader John Beasley, who’s in contention this year for Best Jazz Vocal Album (Somi’s Holy Room: Live at Alte Oper, for which he arranged and conducted the Frankfurt Radio Big Band); Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album (MONK’estra Plays John Beasley); Best Arrangement, Instrumental or a Cappella (Charlie Parker’s “Donna Lee,” on the aforementioned MONK’estra album); and Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals (“Asas Fechadas,” a co-credit with singer Maria Mendes on her album Close to Me).


Other standout 2021 nominations include Ambrose Akinmusire, for his album On the Tender Spot of Every Calloused Moment; Thana Alexa, for Ona (for which violinist Regina Carter also received an improvised solo nod); and Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band, for The Intangible Between.

In related categories, jazz artists also took four of the five nominations for both Best Contemporary Instrumental Album and Best Instrumental Composition, with Christian aTunde Adjuah, Jon Batiste, Grégoire Maret with Romain Collin & Bill Frisell, and Snarky Puppy each receiving the honor in the former category and nominations for Arturo O’Farrill, Christian Sands, Maria Schneider, and Remy Le Boeuf in the latter. In addition, Kamasi Washington received a Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media nod for his score to the Michelle Obama documentary Becoming.

The 63rd Annual Grammy Awards ceremony will be held on January 31, 2021 in Los Angeles. Its format is still to be determined.


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

Christian aTunde Adjuah, soloist
Track from: Axiom (Christian aTunde Adjuah)


Regina Carter, soloist
Track from: Ona (Thana Alexa)

Gerald Clayton, soloist
Track from: Happening: Live at the Village Vanguard (Gerald Clayton)

“All Blues”
Chick Corea, soloist
Track from: Trilogy 2 (Chick Corea/Christian McBride/Brian Blade)

“Moe Honk”
Joshua Redman, soloist
Track from: RoundAgain (Joshua Redman/Brad Mehldau/Christian McBride/Brian Blade)

Best Jazz Vocal Album


Thana Alexa

Secrets Are the Best Stories
Kurt Elling feat. Danilo Pérez

Modern Ancestors
Carmen Lundy

Holy Room: Live at Alte Oper
Somi with Frankfurt Radio Big Band

What’s the Hurry
Kenny Washington


Best Jazz Instrumental Album

On the Tender Spot of Every Calloused Moment
Ambrose Akinmusire

Waiting Game
Terri Lyne Carrington & Social Science

Happening: Live at the Village Vanguard
Gerald Clayton

Trilogy 2
Chick Corea/Christian McBride/Brian Blade

Joshua Redman/Brad Mehldau/Christian McBride/Brian Blade


Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album

Dialogues on Race
Gregg August

MONK’estra Plays John Beasley
John Beasley

The Intangible Between
Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band

Songs You Like a Lot
John Hollenbeck with Theo Bleckmann, Kate McGarry, Gary Versace, and the Frankfurt Radio Big Band

Data Lords
Maria Schneider Orchestra


Best Latin Jazz Album

Afro-Peruvian Jazz Orchestra

Four Questions
Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra

City of Dreams
Chico Pinheiro

Viento y Tiempo: Live at Blue Note Tokyo
Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Aymee Nuviola

Trane’s Delight
Poncho Sanchez


Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album

Blue Umbrella
Burt Bacharach and Daniel Tashian

True Love: A Celebration of Cole Porter
Harry Connick, Jr.

American Standard
James Taylor

Unfollow the Rules
Rufus Wainwright

Renée Zellweger


Best Contemporary Instrumental Album

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah

Chronology of a Dream: Live at the Village Vanguard
Jon Batiste

Take the Stars
Black Violin

Grégoire Maret, Romain Collin & Bill Frisell

Live at the Royal Albert Hall
Snarky Puppy


Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals

“Asas Fechadas”
John Beasley & Maria Mendes, arrangers (for Maria Mendes Featuring John Beasley & Orkest Metropole)

“Desert Song”
Erin Bentlage, Sara Gazarek, Johnaye Kendrick & Amanda Taylor, arrangers (for Säje)

“From This Place”
Alan Broadbent & Pat Metheny, arrangers (for Pat Metheny Featuring Meshell Ndegeocello)

“He Won’t Hold You”
Jacob Collier, arranger (for Jacob Collier Featuring Rapsody)

“Slow Burn”
Talia Billig, Nic Hard & Becca Stevens, arrangers (for Becca Stevens Featuring Jacob Collier, Mark Lettieri, Justin Stanton, Jordan Perlson, Nic Hard, Keita Ogawa, Marcelo Woloski & Nate Werth)



Originally Published