2016 Grammys – Instrumental Jazz

As I write, the Grammy results are not all in yet, but winners in a number of jazz categories have been announced. It’s great to know the musical form is still going strong.

Thrilled to report that Snarky Puppy won Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for “Sylva”. I wrote about the band a bit over a year ago, a few months before the April release of “Sylva”. For this album the group teamed up with Holland’s Metropole Orkest. Enjoy this video performance of the album’s first three tracks. It’s 15 minutes long, but well worth it.

A couple of weeks ago you read about young Joey Alexander, who was nominated for two Grammy awards. Well, he didn’t win either, but no shame in that when we look at the winners (and since he’s just 12, Joey will have plenty more chances).

Bassist Christian McBride won Best Improvised Jazz Solo for “Cherokee” from “Live at the Village Vanguard”. It’s hard to find someone in the world of jazz whom McBride hasn’t played with over the years, from Wynton Marsalis to Chick Corea to Herbie Hancock. And he’s played with the likes of Paul McCartney, James Brown and The Roots as well. There is plenty of great soloing by all three musicians on this track by the Christian McBride Trio, but that is some fine base work.

In the category of Best Jazz Instrumental Album, young Joey was bested by legendary guitarist John Schofield for his latest release, “Past Present”. Schofield’s jazz resume may be even more amazing than McBride’s, having played with George Duke, Charles Mingus, and Gary Burton, before a long stint with Miles Davis.  For “Past Present” he teams up with saxophonist Joe Lovano, a bandmate from the 80’s.  Here’s “Get Proud”.

Another Legend Lost – George Duke Did It All!

On August 6th, just a few weeks after the release of his latest album “Dreamweaver”, keyboard legend George Duke passed away.  Duke’s career spanned four decades, and few artists contributed to a broader range of musical genres.  He began his career working with jazz fusion pioneers including Jean-Luc Ponty and Franz Zappa, collaborated with a variety of other jazz greats including Miles Davis, played on Michael Jackson’s breakthrough album “Off the Wall”, and produced songs for Smokey Robinson, Gladys Night, and Natalie Cole.

The brief interview in the clip below includes a few snippets from tunes on “Dreamweaver”, and it gives you an idea of what a lovely man Duke was.   Listen to full tracks from “Dreamweaver” at George’s Website

Sample Duke’s jazz fusion chops in this live performance from the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1976 with Billy Cobham on drums, John Schofield on Guitar and Alphonso Johnson on Bass (thanks for the link Rainer!). Duke gets his solo 3:45 into the track.

And finally here’s the highest charting single of Duke’s career, 1981’s “Sweet Baby”.

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