Some area Grammy gleam

Trumpeter Brecker, Roots get nods; Adele, Kanye lead.

Posted: December 02, 2011

Cheltenham-born jazz trumpeter Randy Brecker landed among the big Grammy nomination-night winners, with nominations for four golden gramophones, the same number as such illustrious pop stars as Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Mumford & Sons, and Bon Iver.

Brecker's nominations Wednesday night stem from his work on The Jazz Ballad Song Book, recorded with the Danish Radio Big Band and Danish National Chamber Orchestra and released on Half Note Records this year. His nominations include improvised jazz solo, best large jazz ensemble, best instrumental composition, and instrumental arrangement.

Philadelphia hip-hop band the Roots are up for an award in traditional R&B for "Surrender," their hookup with old-school soul singer Betty Wright on Betty Wright: The Movie. And, speaking of the Roots, many years ago when they were known as the Square Roots, bassist Christian McBride was one of their key members. McBride has gone on to a career as one of the premier bassists in jazz, and his The Good Feeling, from the Christian McBride Big Band, is also among the nominees in large jazz ensemble recording.

Late Nights & Early Mornings, the debut release by British-born, Philadelphia-based songwriter Marsha Ambrosius, formerly of hip-hop duo Floetry, took in two nominations. "Far Away" is up for R&B song and performance.

Overall in the nominations, British singer Adele, producer and pop singer Bruno Mars, and Eau Claire, Wis., indie band Bon Iver - a surprise - each pulled in nominations in three of the four major categories revealed during a live telecast from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Adele is up for a total of six Grammys, all from her commercial blockbuster of a sophomore release, 21.

Though he received only one nomination in a major category - song of the year for "All of the Lights" from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - Kanye West received the most nominations, seven, most for Watch the Throne, his album with Jay-Z.

The number of Grammy categories was reduced this year from 109 to 78 in an effort to keep the golden gramophones from being devalued.

The collapsing this year of multiple categories into single ones, such as the new best folk album - which used to be split into "traditional" and "contemporary" - squeezed out lesser-known musicians. The competitive category pits indie rockers Fleet Foxes against Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder, and the country-leaning trio of Steve Earle, the Civil Wars, and Gillian Welch.

Lady Gaga kicked off the show with a goth-girl production of her overblown single "Marry the Night" that appeared to have been directed by Tim Burton. A moment later, she was snubbed in the record of the year category, left off a list that included Adele's "Rolling in the Deep," Mumford & Sons' "The Cave," Bruno Mars' "Grenade," Katy Perry's "Firework," and Bon Iver's "Holocene."

Lady Gaga, who got three nominations in all, wasn't the only one who did less well than expected. No-longer-teen queen Taylor Swift is up for only three awards for her mega-selling album Speak Now, and 85-year-old Tony Bennett, expected to be a sentimental favorite for album of the year for Duets II, was left out of that competition.

In the classical-music categories, locally connected nominees include composer and Princeton University music-department chair Steven Mackey, for Lonely Motel: Music From Slide. Its nominations include best-engineered classical album, small ensemble and contemporary classical composition. The work "The Ghosts of Alhambra" by composer George Crumb, of Media, was nominated for contemporary classical composition, from Complete Crumb Edition, Vol. 15.

The 54th annual Grammy Awards ceremony will be held Feb. 12.


Inquirer music critic David Patrick Stearns contributed to this article. Contact music critic Dan DeLuca at 215-854-5628, deluca@phillynews.com, or @delucadan on Twitter. Read his blog, "In the Mix," at www.philly.com/inthemix.

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