When the Grammy Awards eliminated the category of best Latin jazz album six years ago, an outcry arose quickly. Musicians and advocates argued that the move cut off a rare source of institutional recognition for a genre at the commercial fringes. And the academy listened. The next year the category returned.
In the years since, the importance of that recognition has become even clearer: Latin jazz is experiencing a kind of creative bloom, with musicians diversifying their work at an uncommon clip. It’s generating some of the most invigorating improvised music around.
So maybe it is a bit disappointing that the Grammy nominations this yeardon’t fully reflect those developments, focusing instead on older musicians. Every nominee up for best Latin jazz album this Sunday is over 60. And while all have led fabulous careers — especially the pianist Chucho Valdés, the bassist Andy González and the trombonist Wayne Wallace — each of these recordings tends toward a sound that’s now classic.