The GRAMMY Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album has been presented since 1961. The name of the award changed several times, and from 1962 to 1971 and 1979 to 1991 the award title specified instrumental performances.
The first of these awards went to Henry Mancini for his album The Blues and the Beat. Ted Nash Big Band’s Presidential Suite: Eight Variations on Freedom won the GRAMMY Award Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album last year. Other previous winners include Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, Miles Davis & Quincy Jones, and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. The Christian McBride Big Band is the only 2018 nominee to have previously won the GRAMMY Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, having won it in 2012 for The Good Feeling. Vince Mendoza, nominated this year, was part of the line-up on the 2007 GRAMMY Award-winning album Some Skunk Funk by Randy Brecker, Michael Brecker, and the WDR Big Band.
Here are the five albums nominated for the GRAMMY Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, which will be presented on January 28, 2018.
JOHN BEASLEY – MONK’estra Vol. 2 [Mack Avenue Records]
Pianist John Beasley expands on the inspiration that earned him two GRAMMY nominations last year – for Best Large Jazz Ensemble and Best Arrangement for “Ask Me Now.” MONK’estra Vol. 2 sees him leading a smashing seventeen-piece big band that captures the spirit of Thelonious Monk’s off-beat melodies and humor, strange beauty, unbounded swing, and overall singular music. The ten songs of this album explode into new musical experience due to the collective unit embracing a new strain of jazz, which feature diverse sounds and influences. For more information, go to http://johnbeasleymusic.com/
ALAN FERBER BIG BAND – Jigsaw [Sunnyside Records]
For over six years, Alan Ferber has led a big band made up of players unafraid to be expressive, whether in a big band or small ensemble setting. Jigsaw, his seventh album of originals, was recorded with a 17-piece big band. The album ranges from the Latin and brassy “Impulso” – which opens the program and was originally written for Ferber’s nonet in the spirit of Don Byron’s Music for Six Machines – to the soulfully groovy vibe of “Get Sassy,” with its muted trombones and trumpets. For more information, go to http://www.alanferber.com/
CHRISTIAN MCBRIDE BIG BAND – Bringin’ It [Mack Avenue Records]
Bassist Christian McBride leads a big band in his latest album, Bringin’ It, released on Mack Avenue Records. Bringin’ It is McBride’s second album as a big band leader and follows his GRAMMY Award-winning 2011 album, The Good Feeling. It consists of eleven tracks: a mixture of his own original compositions – such as the opening track “Gettin’ to It,” which is the title of his 1994 debut album – and famous jazz standards, including a version of Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr. Bojangles,” which features his wife, vocalist Melissa Walker. For more information, go to https://www.christianmcbride.com/
VINCE MENDOZA & WDR BIG BAND COLOGNE – Homecoming [Sunnyside Records]
Throughout his career, Vince Mendoza has collaborated with such varied artists as Joni Mitchell and Herbie Hancock. His latest work, Homecoming, sees him collaborate once again with Cologne’s WDR Big Band, with whom he previously worked on a number of occasions, including on Some Skunk Funk, the live album by Randy Brecker and Michael Brecker that won the GRAMMY Award for Best Large Ensemble Album in 2006. Homecoming is made up entirely of his own new compositions. All compositions are six- to nine-minute long works that were tailor-made for the WDR Big Band. For more information, go to http://vincemendoza.net/
CHUCK OWEN AND THE JAZZ SURGE – Whispers on the Wind [Mama Records]
Whispers on the Wind is the latest work by Chuck Jones and the Jazz Surge, and the orchestra’s first record since the GRAMMY Award-nominated River Runs. Their music has always been grounded in the jazz tradition but freely associated with other genres, from classical and rock to American folk and roots music. Whispers on the Wind expands on this concept with a series of portraits inspired by Owen’s own childhood in Omaha, New England, and influenced by the works of three contemporary authors: Larry McMurtry, Cormac McCarthy, and Stephen King. In Whispers on the Wind, we also find experimentation with a number of instruments not generally associated with big-band jazz, such as the harmonica, the violin, and the hammered dulcimer. Whispers on the Wind has also been nominated for Best Improvised Jazz Solo, Best Instrumental Composition, and Best Arrangement, Instrumental, or A Cappella. For more information, go to https://www.chuckowen.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