Herbie Hancock's Joni Mitchell tribute, River: the Joni Letters, won the Grammy Award this week for Album of the Year, beating frontrunners Kanye West (Graduation) and Amy Winehouse (Back to Black). This was Hancock's first nomination for Album of the Year, and as noted by Hancock in accepting the award, the first time a jazz album had won Album of the Year since 1965, when Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto won for Getz/Gilberto.
What gets nominated in the Album of the Year category is frequently determined by an interesting mix of popularity, acclaim and nostalgia, with that last piece being perhaps most important in determining who wins. During the last few years, artists like Hancock who are more established legends than popular artists have frequently won over popular frontrunners. Ray Charles over Kanye West in 2005, for example, or Steely Dan over Eminem in 2001.
No word on whether West is fuming over his loss in the category. This is the third time he's been up for Grammy's top prize, following his debut, The College Dropout and his second album, Late Registration, which lost to U2's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb in 2006. West now joins the company of Sting and Mariah Carey as artists nominated three times in the last 25 years for best album without winning.