OK, pardon me if I vent a little. With the new awards structure created by the Grammy Organization, they have cut back the Jazz category from 6 to 4 awards.
One of them, “Best Improvised Jazz Solo”, has always been a bit of a joke. How can one solo a year by a jazz artist top all others? And how many of the Grammy members seek out the recordings and then seek out the solos in question to actually judge which is best? Luckily, Herbie Hancock did not release an album this year, so someone else has a shot at this category.
The one good thing they did was remove the “Best Contemporary Jazz Album” category, merging it with the “Best Jazz Instrumental Album” category. Now that “Smooth Jazz” is officially dead, who can draw the line between “jazz” and “contemporary jazz”? Of course now The Yellowjackets compete against Sonny Rollins, but hey, why not? At least they have moved Dave Koz to the "Best Pop Instrumental Album" category.
More Good news: of the 21 albums nominated, 16 are from independent labels (unless we consider Concord Records a major label – they have 5 nominations). And now, with the help of Spotify (and little or no help from the Grammy Organization) we can actually listen to all the artists before we vote for a $5.00 monthly fee. I guess we will see on Feb. 12 if any new names surface amongst the winners, or if the Jazz Grammys continue to be a popularity contest amongst established artists.