MUSIC CLIP - OSCAR PETERSON, “MOONGLOW”
Welcome to Afterglow, [a show of vocal jazz and popular song from the Great American Songbook], I’m your host, Mark Chilla.
It’s Grammy Award season yet again. So this week on the program, I’ll be presenting my annual preview of some of the vocal jazz Grammy nominees in several different categories, ahead of this year’s ceremony on Sunday, February 4th. Coming up, we’ll hear some Traditional Pop nominees, including singers Laufey and Rickie Lee Jones. We’ll hear some nominees for Best Jazz Performance, Best Jazz Vocal Album, and Best Arrangement, including singers like Cecile McLorin Salvant and Esperanza Spalding. We’ll even check out a nominee in the new category of Best Alternative Jazz Album.
It’s a 2024 Grammy Award Preview, coming up next on Afterglow
MUSIC - LAUFEY, "BEWITCHED"
Icelandic jazz singer Laufey (that’s spelled L-A-U-F-E-Y), with the title track off of her latest best-selling album called Bewitched, one of the nominees for Best Traditional Pop Album at this year’s Grammy Awards. That title track, “Bewitched” is an original song by Laufey, not to be confused with the 1940 song of the same name by the duo Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. Some other nominees in the traditional pop category include Liz Callaway for her Sondheim tribute album, Bruce Springsteen for his soul and R&B covers album, the vocal group Pentatonix for their Christmas album, and Rickie Lee Jones for her album of jazz standards, which we’ll hear from later in the hour.
MUSIC CLIP - LAKECIA BENJAMIN, "MOODS"
Mark Chilla here on Afterglow. On this show, it’s our annual preview of some of the vocal jazz nominees for the upcoming Grammy Awards, which takes place on Sunday, February 4th.
The nominees for the Best Jazz Vocal Album includes a lot of familiar faces, if you’ve been following the vocal jazz scene for some years. It also includes on first-time nominee in this category, although we’ll get to her a little later.
We’ll start with the three-time Best Jazz Vocal Album winner Esperanza Spalding. Spalding’s latest record is actually a live duet album between her and pianist Fred Hersch called Alive at the Village Vanguard. As its title implies, it’s a live album, recorded several years (in 2018, in fact) at the famed New York City jazz venue. In many ways this album is a departure from Spalding’s other recent jazz ventures only because it’s so… traditional. It showcases her interpretative capabilities, her voice, and humor, all while performing jazz standards… as opposed to the experimental originals that she’s become known for the past few years, including on her Grammy-winning album Songwrights Apothecary Lab.
I’ll play now one track that’s actually a dual nominee: it’s also been nominated for Best Jazz Performance in addition to the Jazz Vocal nod. Here is Esperanza Spalding and pianist Fred Hersh performing and deconstructing the Gershwin classic “But Not For Me,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - ESPERANZA SPALDING AND FRED HERSCH, "BUT NOT FOR ME"
Esperanza Spalding and pianist Fred Hersh live at the Village Vanguard with Gershwin’s “But Not For Me,” from their Grammy nominated album Alive at the Village Vanguard. That song was also nominated for Best Jazz Performance.
Speaking of dual nomination from three-time Jazz Vocal Grammy winners… the next artist I want to feature is three-time winner Cecile McLorin Salvant, perhaps my favorite singer working today. Salvant, like Spalding, is an incredible song interpreter, but she’s also a compelling and creative original artist, and her latest album Mélusine, is evidence of that creativity. It’s an album that loosely retells the 14th-century myth of Mélusine, a half-woman/half-snake, through various genres, styles, and dialects of French. It’s a fascinatingly wild album that is full of mystery and lovely music-making.
Here’s a track that also has a Grammy nomination for Best Arrangement. This Cecile McLorin Salvant with “Fenestra” on Afterglow
MUSIC - CÉCILE MCLORIN SALVANT, "FENESTRA"
MUSIC - GRETCHEN PARLATO AND LIONEL LOUEKE, FEAT. MARK GIULIANA, "LEAN IN"
Jazz singer Gretchen Parlato with the title track from her latest record called Lean In, featuring guitarist Lionel Louke (loo-EHK-KAY) and percussionist Mark Guiliana. Before that, Cecile McLorin Salvant with the original song “Fenestra,” from her latest record titled Melusine. Both of those albums have been nominated for the Best Jazz Vocal Album Grammy at this year’s Grammy Awards.
I have two more Best Jazz Vocal nominees to feature. The first in this set of two is past winner Patti Austin. Austin, who originally comes from the world of R&B, has been singing primarily jazz for over two decades now. She won the Best Jazz Vocal Grammy in 2008 for her album Avant Gershwin, and her latest record is actually a follow up to another Grammy nominated album she made in 2002. It’s called For Ella 2, and it’s a tribute record to the songs of Ella Fitzgerald (that 2002 record, as you may imagine, was titled For Ella). Here, she’s teaming up with Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band, a jazz orchestra that specializes in modern takes on the swing era sound.
This is Patti Austin with “Mack The Knife” on Afterglow.
MUSIC PATTI AUSTIN WITH GORDON GOODWIN'S BIG PHAT BAND, "MACK THE KNIFE"
MUSIC - NICOLE ZURAITIS, "BURN"
New York-based jazz singer and educator Nicole Zuraitis with her original song “Burn.” That comes from her album How Love Begins, her first nomination in the Best Jazz Vocal Album category. Before that, singing legend Patti Austin with “Mack The Knife” from her album called For Ella 2, her third nomination in the Best Jazz Vocal Album category.
MUSIC CLIP - MINGUS BIG BAND, "HOBO HO"
We’ll have more 2024 Grammy nominees in just a bit, including a look at jazz singers who show up in other categories like traditional pop, best arrangement, and more.
I’m Mark Chilla, and you’re listening to Afterglow
MUSIC CLIP - JULIAN LAGE, "MISSING VOICES"
MUSIC CLIP - PAT METHENEY, "I FALL IN LOVE TOO EASILY"
Welcome back to Afterglow, I’m Mark Chilla. We’ve been exploring some jazz singers who have been nominated for Grammys at this year’s Grammy Awards. The ceremony will take place on Sunday, February 4th.
I have a couple nominees lined up in this next set: one in the traditional pop category, one in the Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album category, and one in the best jazz performance category. We’ll start with Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. It’s a sad year for this category, because it’s the first time it’ll be presented after the passing of the legend Tony Bennett, who won the award a whopping fourteen times. It’s also an interesting year, because it’s the first time the award has been moved from the “Pop” Field of categories into the “Jazz” Field, where it probably should have been all along.
As the years go on, the definition of what can be considered “traditional pop” keeps changing. But there is usually one nomination that consists of an album featuring all jazz standards. Let’s hear that now. This is singer Rickie Lee Jones, from her album Pieces Of Treasure with Gershwin’s “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - RICKIE LEE JONES, "THEY CAN'T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME"
MUSIC - COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA, FEAT. LEDISI, "EVIL GAL BLUES"
MUSIC - SAMARA JOY, "TIGHT"
Jazz singer Samara Joy, who won the Grammy last year for Best Jazz Vocal Album and Best New Artist, with the Betty Carter jazz standard “Tight,” a nominee for Best Jazz Performance. Before that, the current incarnation of the Count Basie Orchestra featuring singer Ledisi performing the “Evil Gal Blues.” That’s from the album Basie Swings The Blues, a nominee for Best Large Ensemble Jazz Album. And first in that set, Rickie Lee Jones with “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” a nominee for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.
2024 is an interesting year for the Jazz Grammy Field, because not only did they move Traditional Pop into this Field, they also added a brand new category: Best Alternative Jazz Album. It makes a lot of sense. So much of what is happening in 21st century jazz is pushing the boundaries of the genre, blending in new styles, experimenting with sound, and generally thinking outside the box. This category gives space for those avant garde, envelope-pushing artists to be recognized.
One nominee in this brand new category is the vocal jazz darling Kurt Elling. It’s for his latest iteration of his Superblue project, an album called SuperBlue: The Iridescent Spree, which blends jazz with funk, R&B, and hip hop. Let’s hear a track from it now.
This is Kurt Elling and guitarist Charlie Hunter with the Joni Mitchell song “Black Crow,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - KURT ELLING AND CHARLIE HUNTER, "BLACK CROW"
Kurt Elling and Charlie Hunter with Joni Mitchell’s “Black Crow.” That comes from their album SuperBlue: The Iridescent Spree, a Grammy nominee in the brand new category of Best Alternative Jazz Album.
I have one more track to feature this hour. This one comes from some very talented young jazz singers, and artists I’ve featured on this show several times in the past, the jazz vocal group saje and the maximalist singer, multi-instrumentalist and arranger Jacob Collier. Their collaboration on the standard “In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning” is nominated for Best Arrangement and showcases just how creative and progressive this new generation of jazz singers can be when reimagining the essence of song, defining the boundaries of jazz, and manipulating the sound of the human voice. It gives me a lot of hope for the ever-changing art of vocal jazz.
Here is saje and Jacob Collier with their Grammy-nominated arrangement of “In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - SÄJE, FEAT. JACOB COLLIER, "IN THE WEE SMALL HOURS OF THE MORNING"
The jazz vocal group saje with singer Jacob Collier, and the Grammy-nominated arrangement of the jazz standard “In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning.” And thanks for tuning in to this 2024 Grammy nomination edition of Afterglow.
MUSIC CLIP - KENNY BARRON, "TEO"
Afterglow is part of the educational mission of Indiana University and produced by WFIU Public Radio in beautiful Bloomington, Indiana. The executive producer is John Bailey.
Playlists for this and other Afterglow programs are available on our website. That’s at indianapublicmedia.org/afterglow.
I’m Mark Chilla, and join me next week for our mix of Vocal Jazz and popular song from the Great American Songbook, here on Afterglow