Grammy 2013; Lessons Learned

I like the Grammy Awards because I love music in general. I enjoy almost any type of music, but as you know, I particularly like Latin music. The Grammy Awards give me the opportunity to see what other people (musicians and people involved in music in other capacities that cast their votes) thought were the best recorded music this past year.

For that reason, I always learn more from the nominations than from the winners of the Grammy. The Grammy nominees list invariably contains great music that I didn’t know about. Now that I blog about Latin music, the Grammy winners give me an opportunity to rethink or even “study” the music of the Grammy winners, especially when I believed a different artist had the best record in the category. It makes me wonder “what did they see that I didn’t”. However, that doesn’t mean that I must be “wrong”. To me the selection of best music is not all about right or wrong, but about preferences in music.

For example; I believed Arturo Sandoval had the best Big Band Jazz Album with “Dear Diz”, and my opinion agreed with what the people in the National Academy of Recorded Arts and Science (NARAS) selected. I also thought Juanes had the Best Latin Pop Album with “MTV Unplugged”, which again agreed with NARAS ‘ Grammy selection. I must say that I would’ve liked to see a surprise and that the Grammy had gone to Kany Garcia for “Kany Garcia”, which is a very nice recording. But Juanes and Juan Luis Guerra produced a magnificent album with “MTV Unplugged”.

“Retro” as Best Tropical Latin Album

Marlow Rosado's "Retro" won the Grammy for Best Tropical Latin Album

Where I need to go back and compare notes is in the Best Tropical Latin Album category. I my opinion Eddie Montalvo’s “Desde Nueva York a Puerto Rico” was the best album in this category. The album had many similarities with the Grammy winner, Marlow Rosado’s “Retro”. Both albums are hard Salsa music; both are sung by a bunch of guest Salsa singers, and both have old Salsa music songs. Oh yes, and both were produced independently, which is unlike the one I thought might end up with the Grammy, Romeo Santos, not because “Formula Vol. 1″ was the best album of the category, but because he is a very popular Bachata artist, and his album is distributed by Sony Music.

The big difference to me between Eddie Montalvo’s and Marlow Rosado’s Salsa recordings, is that one album excited me, the other did not. I found Marlow Rosado’s “Retro” a bit boring; without excitement. “Retro” seemed to take popular old Salsa songs, add in popular Salsa singers and musicians, and that’s it. “Desde Nueva York a Puerto Rico” had researched old Salsa songs, some of them popular in the 70′s, others not so popular when originally released even further back in time (like one from Cortijo y su Combo). And then it also had a couple of “unknown” Tite Curet Alonso songs, and an original by Domingo Quiñonez. All in all, I thought Eddie Montalvo’s album had a lot more innovation and better Salsa music performance than Marlow’s…but’ I might be wrong! I’ll give “Retro” another try.

My Salsa and Latin Jazz Homework

Eddie Montalvo's "Desde Nueva York a Puerto Rico"

Now I have to go back and listen carefully to Marlow Rosado’s award-winning Salsa album and see what I missed. Sometimes you don’t “get” an album or song the 1st time you listen to it. Other times you just never “get” what other people liked about it. And that might be because of different preferences in music.

In the Latin Jazz Grammy category I have to do the same “homework”. I believed Bobby Sanabria had the best recording in that category with “Multiverse”, but the NARAS voters sided with Clare Fischer’s album “Ritmo!”.

I’ll let you know in a future blog if I have a new appreciation for Marlow’s and Clare’s recordings.

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3 Responses to “Grammy 2013; Lessons Learned”

  1. Well written and a respectable approach (to go back and give those albums a 2nd or 3rd more attentive listen).

    For me, I seem to agree with the same choices you made. No so much because of preference but more so overall quality.

    Regarding preference, I would not have agreed with them as nominees (though it was well deserved). I am not a big fan of multiple re-makes on an album. Even though the arrangements might have be re-tweaked, polsihed up a bit more and have grade A musicians and singers, I feel most of the popularity and draw is more due to the fact that most of those tunes already have their fans. The artist really didn’t present something ‘new’.

    That said, I am always happy for all of the nominees since it is right to have your work recognized.

    I am truly happy for Marlow Rosado..

  2. Thanks George! I do see your point on not being a fan of re-make albums. They do take that piece of the “originality” away. I liked Eddie Montalvo’s album more because the re-makes weren’t as popular or the singers did add a lot to the song.

    At the end of the day I’m also very happy for Marlow Rosado as he surely put a lot of work and sacrifice into his album, especially releasing it through an indie label.

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