2005 Grammy Wrap

John Hilderbrand Avatar

Hey, I predicted it! Bill Frisell won for Best Contemporary Jazz Recording. None of the rest of the batch inspired me this year so, for the rest of the winners, see the list at the Grammys site.

None of the major jazz award winners are under the age of 50. I don’t have any kind of problem with the age of the winners. There’s no doubt that Herbie Hancock, Nancy Wilson, and McCoy Tyner are masters of their craft. However, does the Recording Academy believe that there is no jazz musician under the age of 50 that is worthy of an award?

The Academy has demonstrated that they can recognize new talent by nominating Russell Gunn, Stefon Harris, and Liquid Soul in previous years. Yet these “youngsters” never win. It’s always Herbie, Metheny, Brecker (both), and the same guys every year. It’s like voting members check off names of artists they’ve heard of when coming to the jazz section of the ballot. I believe that worthy music is being created by younger artists and should be recognized.

Jazz is growing creatively but there is little reflection of that. So, note to the Academy: Just like you’ve done with the “major” nominations, it’s time that you paid attention to fresh jazz. Listen to all jazz recordings that come your way. Talk to your peers about new artists that catch your ear. Ignore name recognition. Think fresh. Maybe even create a Best New Jazz Artist category if you can’t give a Grammy to an artist who has already established himself or herself many times before.

I know that major jazz labels are releasing less and less jazz recordings in favor of vocalists. I know that I can count of the number of major jazz labels on one hand. These labels have enough influence to promote the small number of artists of their roster. New talent isn’t being signed as often by these labels. Smaller labels can’t make their voices heard loud enough. I know there are a lot of factors that result in the repetition of nominees and winners. I could go on for several thousand more words about it and likely will in the near future. I continue to be inspired by jazz and plan on continuing to fight for its recognition.

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