John Daversa took home three awards and veteran jazz icon Wayne Shorter was honoured with a standing ovation as the Grammy Awards celebrated the best in music on Sunday night.
Daversa’s collaborative record American Dreamers: Voice of Hope, Music of Freedom won the title of best large jazz ensemble album, capping off a big night for the musician, composer, arranger and big band leader. That album was recorded with more than 50 singers and instrumentalists who came to the United States under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. They’re among a cohort of roughly 800,000 “undocumented” people, known as Dreamers, who were thrust into the centre of a heated immigration debate in the U.S. when the DACA program was rescinded in 2017.
Daversa dedicated the win to those people upon accepting his third award Sunday evening. Before that, he had won the honours of best improvised jazz solo for the song “Don’t Fence Me In” from the American Dreamers album, and another for best arrangement (instrumental or a cappella) for the song “Stars and Stripes Forever.”
Wayne Shorter took the stage to a standing ovation as his latest album Emanon won the Grammy for best jazz instrumental album, despite stiff competition from former Beyoncé band member Tia Fuller and others. It’s the 11th Grammy for Shorter, who turns 86 this year.
Cécile McLorin Salvant won for best jazz vocal album, as her record The Window earned her a third Grammy out of four nominations. In the final jazz category of the evening, the Dafnis Prieto Big Band won the title of best latin jazz album for Back to the Sunset.
Jazz artists were also represented outside their dedicated Grammy categories. Legendary session musician Steve Gadd’s fifth record as the Steve Gadd Band won for best contemporary instrumental album. Terence Blanchard took home the Grammy for best instrumental composition for his song Blut und Boden (Blood and Soil), part of his score for the Oscar-nominated film BlacKkKlansman. The Grammy for best children’s album went to All the Sounds by Lucy Kalantari & The Jazz Cats, a record of jazz-inspired music for families.
In the blues categories, Buddy Guy won the eighth Grammy of his career as the 82-year-old icon took home the honour of best traditional blues album for his 18th studio record, The Blues Is Alive and Well. Just after that, the title of best contemporary blues album went to Fantastic Negrito for Please Don’t Be Dead.
In other notable wins, Willie Nelson’s My Way was named best traditional pop vocal album. The veteran country artist’s 68th studio album is a tribute to Frank Sinatra, who was a close friend of his. Quincy, a documentary about Quincy Jones directed by Alan Hicks and Rashida Jones, won the Grammy for best music film.
Meanwhile, this year’s list of Grammy Hall of Fame inductees featured recordings by a number of jazz idols, including Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra and more.
Below are the winners and nominees in the jazz categories for the 61st annual Grammy Awards. For a full list of winners and nominees in all categories, click here.
Best Jazz Instrumental Album
Emanon The Wayne Shorter Quartet
Diamond Cut Tia Fuller
Live In Europe Fred Hersch Trio
Seymour Reads the Constitution! Brad Mehldau Trio
Still Dreaming Joshua Redman, Ron Miles, Scott Colley & Brian Blade
Best Jazz Vocal Album
The Window Cécile McLorin Salvant
My Mood Is You Freddy Cole
The Questions Kurt Elling
The Subject Tonight Is Love Kate McGarry, Keith Ganz, Gary Versace
If You Really Want Raul Midón with The Metropole Orkest conducted by Vince Mendoza
Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album
American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom John Daversa Big Band featuring DACA artists
All About that Basie The Count Basie Orchestra directed by Scotty Barnhart
Presence Orrin Evans and The Captain Black Big Band
All Can Work John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble
Barefoot Dances and Other Visions Jim McNeely & The Frankfurt Radio Big Band
Best Latin Jazz Album
Back to the Sunset Dafnis Prieto Big Band
Heart of Brazil Eddie Daniels
West Side Story Reimagined Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band
Cinque Elio Villafranca
Yo Soy La Tradición Miguel Zenón featuring Spektral Quartet
Best Improvised Jazz Solo
Don’t Fence Me In John Daversa, soloist
From American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom by John Daversa Big Band featuring DACA artists
Some of that Sunshine Regina Carter, soloist
From Some of that Sunshine by Karrin Allyson
We See Fred Hersch soloist
De-Dah Brad Mehldau, soloist
From Seymour Reads the Constitution! by Brad Mehldau Trio
Cadenas Miguel Zenón, soloist
From Yo Soy La Tradición by Miguel Zenón featuring Spektral Quartet