For me, the 2013 year of Jazz continues where 2012 left off – it’s an amazing "space" to be in to experience an ever-changing kaleidoscope of sound. One of the aspects of Jazz that I truly love is its ability to embrace the old and the new, avant-garde and mainstream projects that a wide swath of music lovers can embrace.
A number of debut releases resonated with fans everywhere this year – on the radio, via downloads, and on Twitter and Facebook. People wanted to know who the “new guy” was, the one that played the piano with such dexterity and charm? That turned out to be pianist and composer Aaron Diehl, who had his debut release with Indie record label powerhouse, Mack Avenue, this year entitled, The Bespoke Man’s Narrative.
Many aficionados did double-takes when they first heard the expressiveness and range of GRAMMY-nominated Cécile McLorin Salvant’s aurally satisfying debut WomanChild. She channels the best of vocalists from a bygone era but is definitely a modern singer with a 21st century vibe.
Congratulations to GRAMMY-nominated (2010) composer/pianist Vijay Iyer for being honored with a MacArthur Foundation “genius” Fellowship Award earlier this year. He is admired for both his boundless creativity, the mash-ups of divergent styles and the ability to think outside of the “musical” box.
Influential and well-loved artists that passed away in 2013 include – keyboardists George Duke and Don Blackman; pianists Bebo Valdés, Cedar Walton, Marian McPartland, Mulgrew Miller, and Stan Tracey; guitarist Jim Hall; trumpeters Donald Byrd and Kenny Ball; drummers Chico Hamilton and Donald Bailey; vocalists Gloria Lynne and Sathima Bea Benjamin; and Claude Nobs, the founder of the venerable Montreux Jazz Festival. Albert Murray, jazz critic and co-founder of Jazz at the Lincoln Center, died at the ripe old age of 97.
There are people who will read this that will say, “Hmmm, Jazz…??!” The beauty of Jazz is that it encompasses a lot more than you could ever imagine. Seriously. Check out the current releases by GRAMMY-winners drummer Terri Lyne Carrington (Money Jungle: Provocative In Blue), keyboardist Robert Glasper (Black Radio 2) or GRAMMY-nominated artists like Lorraine Feather (Attachments), Roberto Fonseca (Yo), Gregory Porter (Liquid Spirit) and Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society (Brooklyn Babylon). Trust me; there is going to be a track or two that you will want to listen to more than once.
The GRAMMY Awards is the perfect place to see and discover the very best in music. Why don’t you hang out with me on Twitter (@ElementsOfJazz) or Facebook (facebook.com/ElementsOfJazzBlog)? I’ll be your “behind-the-scenes” access to all things jazz (and more) during the 2014 GRAMMY-week!
The live broadcast of the 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA will be on CBS at 8PM EST on Sunday, 26 January 2014.