Honor roll: Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album

Each of these albums has been nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album. They are ranked by honors received.

Album:At This Time

At This Time

Burt Bacharach

Album:Henry Mancini: Pink Guitar

Henry Mancini: Pink Guitar

Various Artists

A dozen of the world’s greatest instrumental Acoustic Guitarists tackle the most beloved melodies of legendary composer Henry Mancini. From the brilliance of Grammy Winning gutiarist Laurence Juber’s phenomenal display on the Pink Panther Theme to Ed Gerhards lovely arrangement of the classic Moon River….this collection will tickle your funny bone and touch your heart. Mancini’s melodies are so strong they adapt well to solo guitar whether it be steel string or nylon acoustic….and the finale is a brilliant duet on A Shot In the Dark.

Album:Mambo Sinuendo

Mambo Sinuendo

Ry Cooder, Manuel Galbán

If there’s a certain instant familiarity to this collaborative celebration between U.S. guitar icon/musicologist Ry Cooder and Cuban fret legend Manuel Galbán, it’s only testimony to how deeply the island nation’s rich musical heritage permeated American pop music in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and beyond. Cooder and Galbán (a key compatriot in the American guitarist’s Buena Vista Social Club project) invent a back-to-the-future sound—twin guitars fronting a Cuban rhythm section of two drum kits, congas, and bass—whose dreamy swing quotient is matched only by its…

Album:Just Chillin'

Just Chillin'

Norman Brown

The opening track here is aptly titled “The Feeling I Get,” because there is a certain good vibe to Brown’s style and his melodies. Brown’s use of swinging horn sections and the way he pads his lines with reeds, blending in swirls of triplets with his Wes Montgomery/George Benson sound, can’t help but make real smooth-jazz lovers feel good and smile. The expert pen of the tasteful veteran arranger Jerry Hey on the opener (and the following title track) magnifies this unique sound. This album takes a left turn on the four vocal tracks. Chante Moore and Michael…

Album:No Substitutions

No Substitutions: Live in Osaka

Larry Carlton, Steve Lukather

Like 1990s guitar wonder-bands such as Los Lobotomys, Karizma, and L.A. Guitar Workshop, this live club recording from two session-masters is a lesson in controlled thuggery. Carlton has played some of the greatest electric solos ever, gunslinging for everyone from Joni Mitchell and The Crusaders to Steely Dan (“Kid Charlemagne”) and LA Express. Ex-Toto axe-king Lukather made his name stoking the mega-rock flames, but has also plied his pick to recordings by Patti Austin, Herb Alpert, Chet Atkins, and America.

That fusion has fallen on hard times doesn’t…

Album:Symphony No. 1

Symphony No. 1

Joe Jackson

Joe Jackson’s first symphony can’t really be called classical at all; if it had come out 20 years earlier, it would quite obviously have been filed under “Prog.” Sadly, even Jackson’s longtime fans might have trouble with this disc. There’s not a single pop hook to be found in its 45 minutes. Instead, we get four movements of rock-like instrumentals representing the different stages of life. With plenty of synths, electric guitar, and keyboards, the work allows the musician and his ensemble (featuring, among others, trumpeter Terence Blanchard and guitarist Steve…

Album:Belladonna

Belladonna

Daniel Lanois

For years, Daniel Lanois has been producing lush soundscapes for his own projects as well as those he’s produced. From U2’s The Unforgettable Fire to Emmylou Harris’s Wrecking Ball, Lanois’s distinct floating-in-the-clouds sound is instantly recognizable to even the most casual listener. Direct comparisons to master producer Brian Eno are not just obvious, they are inevitable; Lanois admits to being Eno’s apprentice through the ambient master’s instrumental projects in the ‘80s and ‘90s. After making a few singer/songwriter discs, Lanois says he…

Album:Bloom

Bloom

Eric Johnson

Texas guitar prodigy Eric Johnson returns to recording after a near-decade absence with a lush, typically restrained collection that eschews flash for fluid cool. Arranging the album’s 16 songs into a musical triptych whose sections are labeled “Prelude,” “Courante” and “Allemande,” Johnson aims at creating a landscape of shifting moods that’s as subtle as it is mature. The guitarist’s trademark lyrical style is immediately showcased on the title track, “Summer Jam” and the stately fallen astronaut tribute, “Columbia.” The first section is also energized by the…

Album:Flipside

Flipside

Jeff Lorber

Album:Naked Guitar

Naked Guitar

Earl Klugh

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