Probably the best part of any major awards show is the chance to check out the winners and nominees personally. This past Monday, the 58th annual Grammy Awards gave wins to bassist Christian McBride and vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant for their outstanding contributions to jazz.
McBride is now a five-time Grammy winner. His lightning fast, all-styles, all-encompassing play on “Cherokee,” from his Trio’s Live At The Village Vanguard (Sept. 18, 2015, Mack Avenue Records), received the Grammy for “Best Improvised Jazz Solo.”
If you listen to the song, pianist Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens Jr. should’ve also received nominations. They galvanize McBride in no small way, as anyone who’s ever seen them live can attest.
McBride seems like he’s almost always on a gig, whether it’s a major jazz festival or a major jazz club, with the Mack Avenue SuperBand, his own big band or trio. Look for him and the Mack Avenue SuperBand tomorrow night at Detroit’s Motor City Casino, then Friday at Chicago’s Symphony Center.
McBride’s Trio steps up Feb. 29 at the Johnson Theater in the University of New Hampshire and April 8 at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami.
Another Mack Avenue recording artist won her first Grammy, for “Best Jazz Vocal Album,” beating out strong contenders like Lorraine Feather and Karrin Allyson. Cécile McLorin Salvant’s Sept. 4, 2015 For One To Love took the top honor in one of the most hotly contested categories.
For One To Love is a strong follow-up to her acclaimed, Grammy-nominated, May 2013 debut, Woman-Child. Salvant’s strengths are her complete domination of a song, her intelligent song choices, and the willingness to go anywhere the mood strikes her, even if it gets unnerving and unpleasant. It’s this last asset that raises the ingénue to the status of icon in a hurry — and the reason why a lot of other good vocalists fade into the background.
Jazz doesn’t favor vocalists who wear songs like sparkly earrings, or cowards who are afraid to get down and dirty in service of the truth of a moment. Salvant possesses audacity beyond earthly comprehension; she wears the songs, they never wear her.
Salvant’s coming to the Savannah Music Festival in Georgia along with the Monty Alexander Trio 6 p.m. March 30, then the Ritz Theater and Museum in Jacksonville, Fla. March 31, before playing April 2 at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center and 8 p.m. April 8-9 at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Hall in New York City, as a guest of Bill Charlap’s Broadway to Harlem.