Many of the top nominees in the scattered field for the 55th Grammy Awards took home trophies from Sunday afternoon’s pre-telecast ceremony at the Nokia Theater.
Mumford & Sons, nominated for six awards, collected the first Grammy of their career for “Big Easy Express,” a long-form video about the U.K. band’s American train tour with Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and Old Crow Medicine Show. But the band found itself edged out in the musical categories.
Garage-rockers the Black Keys, up for five awards today, edged Mumford in the best rock song field, taking the prize for “Lonely Boy” over the English band’s “I Will Wait.” The Akron, Ohio, duo of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney also pulled down best rock album for their Nonesuch release “El Camino.”
Auerbach was named non-classical producer of the year for his work on “El Camino,” Dr. John’s “Locked Down” (named best blues album on Sunday afternoon) and Hacienda’s “Savage” and “Shakedown.”
Nine-time winner Bonnie Raitt, who scored a memorable four-trophy sweep with “Nick of Time” in 1990, upset Mumford in the best Americana album slot, taking a 10th trophy for her self-released album “Slipstream.” She commented, “My God, I had no idea this was possible again.”
Belgian-born artist Gotye’s “Making Mirrors” was selected as best alternative music album, while his collaboration with Kimbra, “Somebody That I Used to Know,” was tabbed as best pop duo/group recording. The latter is nominated as record of the year.
Esperanza Spalding, who came out of nowhere to take best new artist two years ago (beating out Mumford), captured two Grammys, for best jazz vocal album (“Radio Music Society”) and best instrumental arrangement accompanying vocalists (for “City of Roses,” an award she shared with her teacher Thara Memory).
Rap powers Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “N****s in Paris,” from their collaborative album “Watch the Throne,” was selected as best rap performance and best rap song (shared with Mike Dean and Chauncey Hollis). Drake’s top-selling “Take Care” garnered best rap album.
Jay-Z’s spouse Beyonce added to her Grammy total (16 before Sunday) when “Love On Top” scored best traditional R&B performance.” R&B breakthrough artist Miguel, named in five categories, reaped best R&B song for “Adorn,” while Robert Glasper’s Experiment took best R&B album for “Black Radio.”
The diminutive, angularly coiffed Skrillex, who captured three Grammys last year, doubled his tally with a trio of afternoon wins. “Bangarang” won as best dance/electronica album, while its title track, cut with Sirah, was named best dance recording. His work remixing Nero’s “Promises” grabbed best non-classical remixed recording.
Jazz keyboardist-composer Chick Corea, with 18 previous Grammys to his credit coming into Sunday’s ceremony, added to his Grammy total, winning for best instrumental composition (“Mozart Goes Dancing”) best improvised jazz solo (“Hot House,” with vibraphonist Gary Burton). Guitarist Pat Metheny captured his 20th award for “Unity Band,” named best jazz instrumental album.
Some popular vets did not go home empty-handed. Paul McCartney won his 16th Grammy for an unusual project: “Kisses On the Bottom,” his recital of standards, which was named best traditional pop vocal album.
Though hobbled from recent back surgery, Brian Wilson appeared to accept the best historical album award for Capitol’s massive “The Smile Sessions,” comprising studio work for the Beach Boys’ 1966-67 work for the ultimately unreleased album “Smile.” Asked if a follow-up to the 2012 reunion of the oft-contentious group was in the works, Wilson replied, “I doubt it.”
The Grammys continued to honor some late lions. Arranger Gil Evans, who died in 1988, received the best instrumental arrangement award for “How About You,” a 1947 chart first heard on last year’s ArtistShare album “Centennial.” The big band led by veteran leader-arranger Clare Fischer, who died last year, received the best Latin jazz album award for “Ritmo!”
Just two months after his death at 92, sitar master Ravi Shankar – already honored posthumously this year with a lifetime achievement award by the academy – won for best world music album with “The Living Room Sessions Part 1”; his daughter Anoushka, who was competing against her father in the category, accepted his award.
Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas won his 11th Grammy for his work with the San Francisco Symphony on the John Adams works “Harmonielehre” and “Short Ride in a Fast Machine,” which receive the best orchestra performance award. Classic diva Renee Fleming won her fourth Grammy for best classical vocal solo, for the Decca album “Poemes.”
Afternoon co-host Janis Ian, who received her first Grammy at 15, won best spoken word album for her autobiographical “Society’s Child.” Beating out Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres and Rachel Maddow, she quipped that the nominated field was like the set-up for a joke: “An ex-president, a First Lady and three lesbians walk into a bar.”
In the visual media categories, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” took best score soundtrack, topping Ludovic Bourse’s Oscar-winning work for “The Artist.” Seven-time winner Taylor Swift (who put in an appearance at the Nokia), the Civil Wars and T Bone Burnett carried home the best song for “Safe and Sound,” from “The Hunger Games.” The best compilation score trophy went to Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris.” “Once” took best musical theater album.
During the show, Recording Academy prexy Neil Portnow announced that Friday’s MusiCares Person of the Year salute to Bruce Springsteen raised a record $6.5 million.
David Alan Grier, a nominee this year for his work on the Broadway revival of George and Ira Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess,” hosted the p.m. show. Krishna Das, Tyrese and Elle Varner, Eighth Blackbird (who received a Grammy for best chamber music/small ensemble performance, for “Meanwhile”), John Fullbright and Hugh Masekela performed at the ceremony.