April 19, 2011

As we have all heard NARAS has eliminated Latin/Jazz as a musical genre worthy of any consideration for an award.  I hope these thoughts can be a tiny help to rectify this  disgraceful decision ...  Many people I have spoken to wonder if this a first step by NARAS to eventually eliminate opera, chamber music, symphonic  music, jazz and folk.  Rather than for all of us who are members to quit NARAS and eliminate our vote, which I am sure is what they would like us to do, or picket the next Grammys to protest this outrageous situation, I think for now that the best strategy is to get as many people as possible to post a second opinion, so that we can EMBARRASS THEM into restoring this category.  And regardless of what NARAS decrees to be music of lasting value, all of us who play and love this music are NOT GOING TO GO AWAY or stop doing what we love to do and deprive all the people who LOVE TO HEAR US DO IT !!!!

So in this disturbing time, remember the old Spanish saying:  "Se pilla al mentiroso antes que al cojo," i.e., "The truth will win out."  Adios NARAS ...  Hola Latin/Jazz !!!  And we must remind the people at NARAS that ...  It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that SWING !!!

I just wrote to friends from Denver's KUVO-FM, an award-winning 24 hour a day jazz station that also plays and documents many of the treasures of Latin and Jazz collaborations of the past and present and has a huge listenership.  They know that the many varieties of sophisticated music created over the past 70 years in its COUNTLESS forms (which we call Latin/Jazz) is here to stay and is more appreciated every day by a world wide audience.  We all make mistakes in life and they have made a HUGE one.  But rather than asking them to apologize to the millions of listeners as well as the musicians and the many cultures whom they have insulted, (many of whom are fans and who also buy records), let's all see what each of us can do to persuade them to restore the category.

Are we supposed to put all the treasures of Latin/Jazz recordings in the nearest landfill because NARAS has informed us that this is no longer music of any value?  Even though the eliminating of Latin/Jazz is shocking and senseless, rather than all of us trashing NARAS, hopefully there can be a way to get NARAS to realize that they are injuring THEMSELVES by eliminating one of the great forms of musical expression by stopping it from being rewarded.

In all fairness, if those who make these decisions had ever PLAYED, DANCED, SANG or SPENT ONE EVENING as a customer and felt the power and spirit that this music brings to EVERYONE, they would be SUPPORTING it, rather than trying to make it become invisible at the next Grammys.  Here is what I wrote to the devoted people at KUVO, with hopes that we can all support every organization as well as every person who advocates  better music and therefore a better life for our children.


Dear Lou McElroy, Carlos Lando, Alfredo Cruz, Tina Cartagena, Rodney Franks, Arturo Gomez, Susan Reese and all the staff and volunteers at KUVO-FM.

Great to hear from you and I send thanks for  sending me Eddie Palmieri's statement about NARAS.  I will continue, as I have done all my life, in the worlds of symphony, jazz, folk and spoken word, to try to make people, and especially young people aware of what they have not privileged to hear ...... the fantastic music which Mario Bauza, Machito, along with Bird, Dizzy, Chano Pozo and hundreds of other great musicans and singers, and 1000s of dancers, graced us with from the early 40s through today!  In every interview, I will try to spread Eddie Palmieri's message about NARAS overlooking one of our culture's TREASURES!  Eddie, and the music he plays today, along with Jose Madera's magnificent Legend's band, and the brilliant orchestras of Arturo O'Farill, Paquito d'Rivera and so many others, inspire musicians and listeners all over the world and will continue to do so.  I am blessed to have been invited to perform, at the invitation of Bobby Sanabria and Candido, for the celebration of Afro-Cuban music and jazz from the 40s to the present day, taking place at the Apollo theater this June 18, also honors Mario Bauza's 100th birthday.  I hope I can share with everyone there that once you start to study the clave, you have the KEY to appreciating everything from Bird to Mozart in a whole new way. Latin music and jazz teach you how to LISTEN !!!  And together, they reinforce one another.  Latin music, and the concept of being en conjunto. and how this harmonious, communal CIVILIZED way relates to the spirit of jazz and all sincere musics built to last, enriches the lives of everyone fortunate enough to be exposed to it.  Whether you play it, listen to it, dance to it or pray to it, your mental and spiritual health is enriched.  So we must all be "en conjunto" as we diplomatically hip NARAS to the Happenings.  Latin/Jazz is more than a category.  It is a treasure and a unique art form and a priceless gift for us all.  And we all thank Eddie Palmieri, along with Candido, Machito, Cachao and the late Mario Bauza for their tireless years of musical pioneering, as the ambassadors of this beautiful marriage of these two styles of music into a perfect union.

Putnam Valley, NY