Latin Grammy 2020: Best Latin Jazz Album


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The list of nominees for the Latin Grammy 2020 Best Latin Jazz Album is really good this year. There are three well-known artists and two not-so-popular, but they are just as good nonetheless.

Best Latin Jazz Album 2020

To keep this short and sweet, I’ll list the nominees along with my comments below…

Sonero: The Music of Ismael Rivera (Miguel Zenon)

The busy Puerto Rican saxophonist and bandleader paid a respectful homage to his Salsa idol. Miguel used his creative mind to convert some of the iconic songs from the late Salsa star into jazz melodies that enable his talented band to express themselves.

You can read my full review of Miguel Zenon’s “Sonero at this link.

Tradiciones (Afro-Peruvian Jazz Orchestra)

I have to be honest; I had never heard of the Afro-Peruvian Jazz Orchestra (APJO) before. However, I do love Afro-Peruvian music and I do love Jazz. So the combination sounded interesting.

"Tradiciones" Afro Peruvian Jazz Orchesta cover
“Tradiciones” is a fantastic recording by APJO leaders Anibal Seminario and Lorenzo Ferrero.

Tradiciones” is a beautiful album that combines these two streams of music in an elegant package. The orchestra is fantastic and doesn’t hurt to have Peruvian music legend Eva Ayllon as a guest in one of the songs.

This 20 piece jazz orchestra was created by Anibal Seminario and Lorenzo Ferrero, both Peruvian composers and woodwind players.

Perhaps the only drawback of “Traditions” is that the album is relatively short with just 6 songs and 40-minute duration. Yet, this does not take away from making it a short enjoyable listening journey.

Antidote (Chick Corea & The Spanish Heart Band)

Chick Corea, the legendary jazz musician is again drawing from the Latin vein in this well-crafted jazz album. Corea brings in Latin music legend Ruben Blades to collaborate in two songs of “Antidote“. The Spaniard-flavored music is certainly worthy of this nomination.

Carib (David Sánchez)

The Puerto Rican jazz marvel is back in the saddle with this fantastic jazz album. Sanchez’s last recording as a leader was back in 2008, besides the two albums with Ninety Miles in 2011 and 2012.

In “Carib” David Sanchez delivers 11 songs of contemporary jazz that showcase his skill at the saxophone.

I missed David’s music and am glad to see him come back with gusto.

Puertos: Music from International Waters (Emilio Solla’s Tango Jazz Orchestra)

"Puertos" is a fantastic Latin Grammy 2020 nominee
“Puertos” is a fantastic recording by the Tango Jazz Orchestra with beautiful orchestrations based on South-American rhythms.

Emilio Solla delivers a unique album with a great mixture of Jazz with Tango and other rhythms, in an exquisite way. I was really impressed by the orchestration, arrangements, and musicality in this album. It features saxophones, piano, and the beautiful intervention of the bandoneon.

The eight songs are captivating and make for an entertaining and relaxing listen.

My Favorite Latin Jazz Album

Miguel Zenon, Chick Corea, and David Sanchez all have great albums, all worthy of their nominations and your attention. Yet, for me, I was really impressed by the music of the underdogs in this category, which means, they aren’t likely to win the Latin Grammy.

Nonetheless, I want to highlight the work of Anibal Seminario and Lorenzo Ferrero and their Afro Peruvian Jazz Orchestra, as well as that of Emilio Solla and his Tango Jazz Orchestra. I love these underdogs and hope they eventually find the popularity of the other nominees in this category.

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