The end of 2012 saw a couple of Knoxvillians receive recognition via some prestigious national music awards, including pop music’s biggest, the Grammys. Local chanteuse Sanda Allyson and pianist/composer/jazz luminary Donald Brown were contributors to the Grammy-nominated Soul Shadows by singer Denise Donatelli, nominated in the Best Jazz Vocal Album category.
Brown and Allyson co-wrote the song “Ange,” which they performed together on the 2010 release Tenors and Satin: The Knoxville Jazz Session, an album commemorating the city’s rich jazz tradition. Brown sent the song to his colleague, acclaimed jazz pianist Geoff Keezer, who had already produced a Grammy-nominated album with Donatelli in the past. He and Donatelli chose to record it for the Soul Shadows sessions.
Brown doesn’t know whether he and Allyson would receive their own golden gramophones, should Soul Shadows win the award. Nonetheless, he says, “to be associated with it, that still gives you recognition. It’s good to have on your resume.”
And in the meantime, you might say Brown is hedging his bets. He’s involved with another couple of Grammy nominations, as producer of saxophonist Kenny Garrett’s twice-nominated 2012 release Seeds From the Underground. As producer, Brown will receive trophies should Garrett win.
Garrett is nominated for Best Jazz Instrumental Album and Best Improvised Jazz Solo, the latter for his work on the track “J. Mac.” Garrett’s album has also been nominated for an NAACP Image Award in the Outstanding Jazz Album category.
Brown is no stranger to Grammy nominations. He has been part of nominations with horn players Donald Byrd and Wynton Marsalis (both as a composer) and with bandleader Art Blakey (as a player).
Maybe that’s why he won’t be taking much time to savor the recognitions. He’s heading to New York in February to produce Garrett’s next record. And in March, his own latest release should be forthcoming, a trio recording titled Born to Be Blue. The record will feature Brown’s son Kenneth splitting time on drums with Marcus Gilmore and Bob Hurst on bass, plus guest spots on various tracks from Garrett and Knoxville guitarist Mark Boling.