It’s going to be a lot tougher for modern jazz instrumentalists to get recognition starting next year. The number of categories to be recognized at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards in 2012 will drop from 109 to 78. Here’s what is of interest to contemporary jazz fans.
There is no longer a Best Contemporary Jazz Album or a Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual Or Group category. The Jazz field drops to four awards: Best Improvised Jazz Solo, Best Jazz Vocal Album, Best Jazz Instrumental Album, and Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. On one side, I like that there doesn’t have to be an adjective to separate contemporary jazz from other jazz. It’s part of the big jazz family. On the other hand, it’s going to be tougher to compete with every type of jazz.
The Pop field also sees a category eliminated that contemporary jazz artists were frequently nominated in: Best Pop Instrumental Performance. Spyro Gyra and George Benson are artists that immediately come to mind that were nominated in that category in the last few years. Best Pop Instrumental Album remains so there is a chance there. Bela Fleck and Fourplay have been nominees in the category.
In another blow to instrumentals, the Best Rock Instrumental Performance has also been eliminated. I remember Pat Metheny winning that years ago for “The Roots of Coincidence” but don’t recall any other jazz artists being in contention since.