Grammy Awards 2012: Carrington and Corea among jazz winners
Though the Grammys have a long history of leaning toward familiar names and sympathetic favorites, this year's awards in the jazz category found the Recording Academy mixing a few surprises Sunday with its choices that, as usual, left ample room for debate.
In a category that featured a number of delicious story lines in jazz titan Sonny Rollins' bracing live recording "Road Shows Vol. 2"; Joe Lovano's tribute to Charlie Parker, "Bird Songs"; and pianist Fred Hersch's live recording that marked his continued return to health, "Alone at the Vanguard," Grammy voters veered toward another stand-by in Chick Corea for the live double-album "Forever."
Teamed with Return to Forever bandmates Stanley Clarke and Lenny White, Corea also took home another Grammy for improvised solo with a take on "500 Miles High," which was first recorded in 1972.
In the large ensemble category, bassist Christian McBride collected his first Grammy as a bandleader for what was also his debut big band recording, "Good Feeling." McBride bested sympathetic favorite Gerald Wilson, who at 93 was vying for his first Grammy after eight nominations with the album "Legacy." Saxophonist Miguel Zenón, whose album "Alma Adentra: The Puerto Rican Songbook" was a critical favorite last year, also lost out to McBride, who was the L.A Philharmonic's creative chair for jazz from 2006 to 2010.
In something of an upset, drummer-composer Terri Lyne Carrington was awarded the Grammy in the jazz vocal category for her eclectic, funk-dusted album "Mosaic," which featured an array of female musicians, including Dianne Reeves, Gretchen Parlato and last year's Grammy favorite, Esperanza Spalding. Carrington's album was chosen over recordings by Tierney Sutton, Karrin Allyson, Roseanna Vitro and 2010's winner, Kurt Elling.
Elsewhere, bandleader Gordon Goodwin won in the instrumental arrangement category for his Big Phat Band's take on "Rhapsody in Blue," but Goodwin joined fellow jazz composers Randy Brecker, John Hollenbeck and the Yellowjackets' Russell Ferrante in losing out to Béla Fleck for best instrumental composition.
[Updated, 7:50 p.m.: An earlier version of this post referred to Kurt Elling as the Grammy winner for best jazz vocal album last year. Elling won in 2010.]
— Chris Barton
Photo: Chick Corea, right, reacts as Stanley Clarke accepts their Grammy at the Staples Center during the pre-telecast. Credit: Robyn Beck / AFP, Getty Images.