The GRAMMY Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album was first presented in 1977. Until 2001 this award was titled the GRAMMY Award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, and from 1981 to 1991 – except for 1985 – this category was presented as separate awards for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Female and Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Male.
The first GRAMMY Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album went to Ella Fitzgerald’s album Fitzgerald and Pass… Again. This 1976 studio album was the second of four duet albums the First Lady of Song recorded with guitarist Joe Pass. Take Me to the Alley earned Gregory Porter the GRAMMY for Best Jazz Vocal Album last year. Other previous winners of this award include Al Jarreau, Natalie Cole, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dianne Reever, Esperanza Spalding, and Cécile McLorin Salvant. The latter is one of the nominees for this year’s award.
Here are the five albums nominated for the GRAMMY Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album, which will be presented on January 28, 2018.
THE BAYLOR PROJECT – The Journey [Be a Light]
Married musicians, vocalist Jean Baylor and drummer Marcus Baylor, released their captivating album, The Journey, on their self-owned label, Be a Light. It is an intersection of gospel, blues, soul, and jazz, featuring a mixture of original compositions, newly arranged standards, and reimagined hymns. Tracks include “Summertime,” “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” and “Our Love Is Here to Stay.” For more information, go to https://www.thebaylorproject.com/home/
JAZZMEIA HORN – A Social Call [Concord Music]
The debut album of Jazzmeia Horn, winner of the 2015 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. Performed with an all-star acoustic jazz line-up – and inspired by Betty Carter’s 1955 Social Call, which featured a big band arranged by Gigi Gryce – it combines the jazz of the classic, small-group variety with more modern flavors of gospel and neo-soul. Some songs are woven into medleys with Horn sermonizing on issues of common concern; this gives A Social Call the feel of an intimate, live performance. For more information, go to https://www.theartistryofjazzhorn.com/
RAUL MIDÓN – Bad Ass and Blind [Mack Avenue Records]
Vocalist, guitarist, bassist, and composer Raul Midón taps into the linear modal harmonies explored by such jazz composers as Miles Davis and Wayne Shorter. The New York Times once called Midón “a one-man band who turns a guitar into an orchestra and his voice into a chorus.” Bad Ass and Blind showcases the spirit of such experimentation, and also features such musical guests as bassists Richard Hammond and Joe Sanders, and drummers Gregory Hutchinson and Lionel Cordew. For more information, go to http://www.raulmidon.com/
CÉCILE MCLORIN SALVANT – Dreams and Daggers [Mack Avenue Records]
Bandleader Wynton Marsalis once called Cécile McLorin Salvant the type of singer you only get “once in a generation or two.” Having won the GRAMMY for Best Jazz Vocal Album in 2016 for her second album, For One to Love, she is up for another one at the upcoming GRAMMYS for her double-live album, Dreams and Daggers. Here, McLorin Salvant plays a combination of fresh takes on tried and tested standards with new original songs, alongside an acoustic band. For more information, go to http://www.cecilemclorinsalvant.com/
THE RANDY PORTER TRIO WITH NANCY KING – Porter Plays Porter [Heavywood Music]
Pianist Randy Porter teamed up with bassist John Wiitala, drummer Rodd Strait and, on six of the nine selections on Porter Plays Porter, vocalist Nancy King, for a tribute to Cole Porter. The set features ten songs penned by the great composer plus the pianist’s own ballad, “Inside Your Mind.” King brings her own warmth and individual phrasing to such well-known standards as “I Concentrate On You,” “Just One of Those Things,” and “All Of You,” while “I Love You,” “Why Can’t You Behave,” and “Get Out of Town” are instrumentals. For more information, go to http://www.randyporter.com/
The 60th GRAMMY Awards will take place at New York City’s Madison Square Garden on Sunday, January 28, 2018. For the full list of nominations, go to https://www.grammy.com/grammys/news/60th-grammy-awards-full-nominees-list