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2018 Grammy Countdown: Best Contemporary Instrumental Album

Image of Alex Han (left) and Marcus Miller from alexhan.com

As a music fan, one of the things I love most about the Grammy Awards is discovering terrific artists I've never heard of before.

The Best Contemporary Instrumental Album category is an interesting one. The albums can contain elements of jazz, latin, country, rock, r&b, and classical music which makes this one of the most eclectic of all the Grammy categories.  This year there are artists from all those backgrounds present in the nominations.  

Check out the nominees below and, while you're listening to the new music, enter the SCCLD Predict the 2018 Grammy Awards Contest.

Jerry Douglas Band

Jerry Douglas is an accomplished guitarist and record producer and often works in the country and bluegrass genres. He has been involved in multiple bands and projects and has scored 14 Grammy Awards for projects with Alison Krauss + the Union StationThe Earls of Leicester, and even an Album of the Year win for O Brother, Where Art Thou. The Jerry Douglas Band is a three year old septet of musicians playing alongside Jerry on the drums, electric guitar, saxophone, trumpet, fiddle, and bass. The album What If moves from jazz, bluegrass, blues, R&B, and even some celtic balladry. 

What If by the Jerry Douglas Band

Alex Han

Alex Han's Spirit is his debut recording and his first Grammy nomination. Han is an alto saxophonist prodigy; he's played since he was eight years old, and started receiving national attention by twelve. Working with Grammy winner Marcus Miller as his producer, Han has created an album made up of catchy jazz-inflected tunes that Han himself has written along with jazz covers of other artists' songs (such as Sting's "Fragile"). The album is clearly influenced by saxophonists such as David Sanborn and Branford Marsalis

Spirit by Alex Han

Julian Lage & Chris Eldridge

Julian Lage, a jazz guitarist, and Chris Eldridge, a bluegrass guitarist (he worked on Inside Llewyn Davis), come together to create a happy fusion of genres of music that seem wildly different. Eldridge also sings on three of the twelve tracks of Mount Royal, their second collaboration. Their collaboration was written about in a New Yorker article which shows their partnerships as a "high form of conversation." Their music sounds like nothing else being recorded in this moment.

Mount Royal by Julian Lage & Chris Eldridge

The Jeff Lorber Fusion

Jeff Lorber is a keyboardist, composer, and producer. In 1977 he formed a band of revolving musicians named The Jeff Lorber Fusion. His work has largely been within jazz and more specifically smooth jazz. On their current album, Prototype, the musicians include Andy Snitzer and bassist Jimmy Haslip. The album is beautifully and slickly produced and probably the most like the music recognized in the early years of this category. This is Jeff Lorber's seventh Grammy nomination.

Prototype by The Jeff Lorber Fusion

Antonio Sánchez

Antonio Sánchez made a big splash with his percussion driven soundtrack featured in the film Birdman. Controversially, he was disqualified from Academy Award consideration for his innovative work on that film although he did win a Grammy Award for it. He continues as one of best jazz percussionists of our time, and this recording pushes boundaries in a way similar to his film work. Here he uses his versatile drumming with electronic sounds and vocal samples to move his art in a new direction. It's a challenging and powerful listening experience.

Bad Hombre by Antonio Sánchez

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