Some observations about this year's nominees, which were announced a couple of hours ago (and good luck trying to get into their website right now, because the traffic is terrible; instead, for the classical categories, head over to see Steve's post...)
-It's interesting to see that entities that either didn't even exist a couple of years ago (hi, Starbucks!) or didn't really seem to pay much attention to the Grammy process until quite recently, at least as far as I'm aware (and I'm too lazy to research otherwise), now want in. (Greetings, CBC, Cedille, OUR,Red Mark, Violinjazz, and brethren!)
-Not a single classical album showed up in categories like Historical or Album Notes. (Memo to producers/writers/etc.: If you want your work to be considered, I understand it's best these days not to assume that the label will submit your stuff for you. So get cracking!)
-There was a lot of great competition this year in both of the world music categories. Four of the five nominees in the "traditional" world music category are of African or African-rooted music, including the phenomenal Live at Couleur Cafe by Konono No. 1, released by Crammed. (The odd recording out is Rahim Al Haj's excellent When the Soul Is Settled---Music of Iraq on Smithsonian Folkways.)
-Its sister category, "contemporary" world music, headed instead to Brazil: Ceu, Gilberto Gil, and Bebel Gilberto were all nominated. Also, I can't quite believe that Lorena McKennitt's album managed to get accepted as any kind of world album. Yes, I know she winds up on SoundScan's world chart, but please, Verve (or whoever submitted this one): you show no mercy. (Et tu, Grammy world committee?)
-My pick for Best Classical Album, and certainly not for sentimental reasons: Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's exquisite, and utterly poignant, recording of her husband's Neruda Songs (Nonesuch), which is also up for Best Classical Vocal Album and Best Contemporary Classical Composition. (Also, the other candidates for Best Classical Album? Blink. Have I missed something(s) truly phenomenal?)
-I've really loved the Minnesota Orchestra/Osmo Vanska Beethoven cycle (BIS), and am not at all surprised to see their recording of the Ninth up this time around in Best Orchestral. I also find myself needing to return to the LA Phil/Salonen Rite of Spring (DG).
-The nominees for Best Opera make me think how paltry the new opera offerings have been in recent times.
And, finally, random thoughts about some other categories...
-The slightly bizarre, hugely entertaining, and fastidiously researched (and presented) Actionable Offenses--Indecent Phonograph Recordings from the 1890s on Archeophone got two noms (Historical and Album Notes). Hooray!
-Loren Schoenberg's notes for his Chu Berry set on Mosaic were amazing, and the nomination is well-deserved.
-I giggled when I saw The Beastie Boys rubbing shoulders with Dave Koz, Kirk Whalum, Spyro Gyra, and Chris Botti (Best Pop Instrumental Performance and Best Pop Instrumental Album).
-Amy Winehouse: You really are a mess, but I still love Back to Black. (Yay, Dap Kings!) And, speaking of Winehouse & co: I still dig Mark Ronson's own Version.
ETA: And a personal congratulations to some old friends: David Frost (Best Classical Album, as producer of Renee Fleming's "The Age of the Diva"); Robina Young (Producer of the Year, Classical); and Michael J. Maccaferri and the rest of the eighth blackbird flock (Best Chamber Music Performance). MJM: If you don't submit this to our (high school) alumni magazine, I will.