An Australian ,in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, said that we Brits are only capable of winning medals in sports which we can play sitting down.
Well ,there are three jazz artists with British connections who are up for Grammys at the awards ceremony in Los Angeles on Feb 8th.
None of them sit down for very long. Except, occasionally, Doncaster-born, US-based , citizen of the world guitarist John McLaughlin when he performs with his Indian musicians in Shakti Remembered.
McLaughlin’s album Floating Point is up for Best Contemporary Jazz Album. Quite a bit of detail and clips from the album HERE
A video of John McLaughlin and Herbie Hancock in very civilized and articulate dialogue is here:
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The other two nominees are two very different singers, both vying for Best Jazz Vocal Album: UK-based, New Jersey-born Stacey Kent, and Londoner Norma Winstone. Stacey with her British band for “Breakfast On The Morning Tram” on Blue Note, and Norma with German saxophonist Klaus Gesing and Italian pianist Glauco Venier for “Distances” on ECM.
Stacey versus Norma. Hm. Most jazz people I know will only encompass one in their preferences. Listening to jazz can be a very divisive activity. Which is a shame.
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Stacey Kent does swing-oriented standards really well, has a great arranger and a great band. It’s has a big audience. It’s BBC Radio 2, audience-friendly.
Stacey Kent ‘s early successes in the mid to late 1990’s were greatly assisted by the involvement of veteran all-round-fount-of-common-sense record producer Alan Bates of Candid Records. But she has taken her career and visibilty a very long way since then.
The last two years have been dominated by a fight against breast cancer, written about Here
But if you want evidence of the indomitabilty of the human spirit, look at Stacey Kent’s post-Grammy comeback schedule; the last eleven days of March have ten gigs in three countries , followed by no fewer eighteen in April.
I’m tempted to hear her at Cadogan Hall with the BBC Big Band. But that week she’ll have done Meudon and Zagreb and a couple of other places I’ve never heard of.
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Winstone is a very very civilized and fine musician always to be found among other fine musicians. For many years with John Taylor, plus great albums with the late very lamented Steve Gray. I hope that, after the demise of New Note, there are still copies around of the Double CD she produced herself “Amoroso, Only More So” with Bobby Wellins and Stan Tracey, because it captures her many moods very well.
There’s a good biography of Norma on her Website
And here’s my short edit of a very long press release about the Grammy-nominated album:
“It’s her first ECM recording in a decade. With tributes to Coltrane and to Pasolini, cover versions from Cole Porter to Peter Gabriel, pieces inspired by Italian folk music and by Erik Satie, a free calypso and more. This is jazz of chamber music sensibility and precision, by a trio that improvises in a clearly-defined group language. German reedman Klaus Gesing and Italian pianist Glauco Venier have been influenced by Winstone’s earlier recordings, but they work with the material in ways entirely their own.”
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These three people: ample testimony of how extraordinarily broad and welcoming of difference jazz can and should be.
To say you hate jazz is like saying you hate ART. Or FOREIGNERS.