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Jazz's 2024 Grammy nominees suggest a sort of family reunion

Esperanza Spalding, pictured at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards in 2020, has two nominations in the 66th awards, to be held on Feb. 4.
Esperanza Spalding, pictured at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards in 2020, has two nominations in the 66th awards, to be held on Feb. 4.

The 2024 Grammy nominations are in, and the jazz field is chock full of returning heroes. Along with vocalist and bassist esperanza spalding — a five-time Grammy-winner who scored two more nods for Alive at the Village Vanguard, her album with pianist Fred Hersch — the results include the likes of guitarist Pat Metheny (20 previous wins), pianist and singer Jon Batiste (5 wins), pianist Billy Childs (5 wins) and singer Cécile McLorin Salvant (3 and counting). The late Chick Corea, a perennial Grammy favorite, has two albums in the running, in both jazz and classical fields.

Samara Joy, who won two Grammys last year — for Best New Artist and Best Jazz Vocal Album — announced the nominees in a livestream hosted by grammy.com. She’s a nominee this year too, in the category of Best Jazz Performance, for her version of Betty Carter’s “Tight,” released as a single last fall.

But nestled among the familiar names are a few newcomers in this year’s Grammy noms. A few can be found in Alternative Jazz, one of three new categories added this year. Also new to the party is saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin, who scored nominations for Best Jazz Performance and Best Jazz Instrumental Album, as well as Best Instrumental Composition (for “Amerikkan Skin”).

And finally, there are a handful of deserving artists who have received multiple nominations in the past but never won an award. This distinguished list includes an NEA Jazz Master, pianist Kenny Barron, whose win for The Source would mean that the 13th time’s the charm. Among the others in this company are two contenders for Best Latin Jazz Album: alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón(11 prior nominations) and drummer Bobby Sanabria (4).

And the composer-bandleader Darcy James Argue has a strong case with Dynamic Maximum Tension — but, having been nominated for Best Large Jazz Ensemble thrice before, he must be well aware that it’s a tall order going up against the Count Basie Orchestra, the Mingus Big Band, and Vince Mendoza with the Metropole Orkest (not to mention the aforementioned Corea).

Here is a full list of Grammy nominees. Below, find all results in the Jazz field. And here is our report on the classical nominees.

The 66th Annual Grammy Awards Nominations: Jazz Field

Best Jazz Performance

  • “Movement 18' (Heroes),” Jon Batiste
  • “Basquiat,” Lakecia Benjamin
  • “Vulnerable (Live),”  Adam Blackstone Featuring The Baylor Project & Russell Ferranté
  • “But Not For Me,” Fred Hersch & Esperanza Spalding
  •  “Tight,” Samara Joy
Cecile McLorin Salvant
Nonesuch Records / Jazz at Lincoln Center

Best Jazz Vocal Album

  • For Ella 2, Patti Austin Featuring Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band
  • Alive At The Village Vanguard, Fred Hersch & Esperanza Spalding
  • Lean In, Gretchen Parlato & Lionel Loueke
  • Mélusine, Cécile McLorin Salvant
  • How Love Begins, Nicole Zuraitis

Best Jazz Instrumental Album

  • The Source, Kenny Barron
  • Phoenix, Lakecia Benjamin
  • Legacy: The Instrumental Jawn, Adam Blackstone
  • The Winds Of Change, Billy Childs
  • Dream Box, Pat Metheny

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album

  • The Chick Corea Symphony Tribute, Ritmo ADDA Simfònica, Josep Vicent, Emilio Solla
  • Dynamic Maximum Tension, Darcy James Argue's Secret Society
  • Basie Swings The Blues, The Count Basie Orchestra Directed By Scotty Barnhart
  • Olympians, Vince Mendoza & Metropole Orkest
  • The Charles Mingus Centennial Sessions, Mingus Big Band
Luis Perdomo and Miguel Zenón
Luis Perdomo and Miguel Zenón

Best Latin Jazz Album

  • Quietude, Eliane Elias
  • My Heart Speaks, Ivan Lins With The Tblisi Symphony Orchestra
  • Vox Humana, Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band
  • Cometa, Luciana Souza & Trio Corrente 
  • El Arte Del Bolero Vol. 2, Miguel Zenón & Luis Perdomo

Best Alternative Jazz Album

  • Love In Exile, Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyer, Shahzad Ismaily
  • Quality Over Opinion, Louis Cole
  • SuperBlue: The Iridescent Spree, Kurt Elling, Charlie Hunter, SuperBlue
  • Live At The Piano, Cory Henry
  • The Omnichord Real Book, Meshell Ndegeocello
Nate Chinen has been writing about music for more than 25 years. He spent a dozen of them working as a critic for The New York Times, and helmed a long-running column for JazzTimes. As Editorial Director at WRTI, he oversees a range of classical and jazz coverage, and contributes regularly to NPR.