Maybe it was a slow news day. One can only read (or write) so much about the global economic catastrophe, Tea Partiers, or elections that only put different people to protect the same interests. Whatever the case may be, El País, Spain’s most important national newspaper, on Sunday run a piece headlined “El Jazz Latino en Pie de Guerra,” roughly, Latin Jazz on the warpath. (for your Spanish language reading pleasure: )
In it, critic Diego Manrique discusses the class action lawsuit brought by percussionist Bobby Sanabria, guitarist Ben Lapidus, pianist Mark Levine, and composer Eugene Marlow against the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) which awards the GRAMMYs, in response for the elimination of the Latin Jazz category. While not quoted in this story, Roger Maldonado, attorney for the plaintiffs, has told the Associated Press that “Not only does it devalues the category of music and the work these musicians do. It makes it much harder for them to gain recognition.”
At the very least, NARAS seems to have mismanaged both the process and the announcement of its decision. But making a Federal case out of it (literally) hardly seems the best way to address it. A thoughtful discussion is needed.
But in a perverse turn, both sides have succeeded in getting press for a music often overlooked.
I know that it’s not quite the point, but now that we got your attention, can we offer you some Latin Jazz?.
I’ll take a page of the shop owner standing on the sidewalk, passing off fliers and inviting people in to check the merchandise – we have Mario Bauzá!, Dizzy Gillespie!, Danilo Pérez!, Guillermo Klein!, Chano Domínguez!, Come and check us out!. Come in and hear! Chucho Valdés!, Jerry González!, Perico Sambeat!, Adrian Iaies!, Silvano Monasterios!, Edward Simon! … come and try us out!

August, 2011 Jazz With An Accent