Condado De La Salsa y Jazz Latino - October 2018

By Nelson Rodriguez

It is that time of the year to see how The Latin Grammys have done justice to artists deserving recognition or how they ‘botched’ up the nominations. We have noticed a trend, when it comes to nominating Tropical Song of The Year, where many of the finalists include songs by Pop composers such as is the case with Jorge Luis Piloto (who has written many songs that have been done in Salsa) and is nominated twice for songs this year. One with Tony Succar featuring Jean Rodriguez and Reynier Perez y su Septeto Acarey featuring Gilberto Santa Rosa. Another nomination goes to Victor Manuelle featuring Juan Luis Guerra (co-composer). It is very hard for anyone to get a good Tropical (which for the Academy covers a vast range of possibilities including Salsa) nomination when the ‘usual suspects’ get all the consideration. I can be wrong about what I am about to say but the songs nominated in most parts did not even get decent airplay on commercial radio. That’s not the way it works! I know for a fact they did not get air play at NPR or non-commercial stations and colleges/universities. On the American side, of the Grammy’s if you do not have heavy airplay you have no chance of getting nominated. Then why is the Latin side so backward? Can it still be a popularity contest over the actual music?

The Latin Jazz Grammy category has Dafnis Prieto Big Band, Nestor Torres, Hermeto Pascual & Big Band, the Adrian Jaies Trio and Bobby Valentin as nominees. Many of these were never even sent to radio and the DJ’s/hosts that should be playing them. The only true Latin Jazz CD, for me, in the nominations is the Valentin CD “Mind of A Master” with Dafnis Prieto a close second.

For the Best Tropical Salsa the choices get better with Charlie Aponte, Alexander Abreu Havana D’ Primera, Pete Perignon, Victor Manuelle, and Chiquito Team Band. For me it’s between Abreu, Perignon and Aponte. Let’s keep in mind that outside of Puerto Rico these CD’s are being played on non-commercial radio not the commercial radio stations that should be playing them all.

For the Best Traditional Tropical Album of the year it is going to be a shootout between Jose Alberto ‘El Canario’ y El Septeto Santiaguero, Ruben Blades, La Sonora Santanera (did not even know they had a new CD), Omara Portuondo and Maria Rivas. Here I say Canario with El septet Santiaguero, Blades or Omara should win.

Left out were Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Oscar Hernandez’ Latin Jazz CD, Bobby Sanabria, Aguanko, Pedro Bermudez, Charlie Sepulveda, DJ Ricky Campanelli, Ed Martinez, Willie Morales, Adalberto Alvarez, and Jr. Rivera y Yabukoa. All good choices with exceptional music that should have been nominated. Maybe on some of these names it was a situation of the release date that then qualifies them for next year

Will this ever get better? I hope so for the sake of the historical perspective that the music deserves. Who knows maybe in the future the Academy can incorporate some exceptional people in the industry to be on the music selection committees around the US to help with the process.

We lost some good people in the past year and in these last few months Jerry Gonzalez, Raul Marrero and my dear friend & promoter JC Ospina (Juan Carlos Ospina) who will be missed in LA as one of the last who promoted at all the clubs, music events and radio stations. His surprise phone calls to meet with me and bring all the radio DJ’s good music, mostly from Puerto Rico, will be missed.

Eddie Palmieri continues to have a good month with what will be three CDs this year and lots of performances in November. The big concert on the 10th, in New York, where he will be performing a tribute to his older brother Charlie Palmieri and then later that evening joining with his ex-vocalist Lalo Rodriguez to celebrate their Grammy winning albums from 1976 (The Sun of Latin Music) and 1977 (Unfinished Masterpiece). The Eddie Palmieri band will also be in Los Angeles on Sunday, November 25th as part of an event musician/promoter Ray Carrion has been doing during this past year, “Baila Mi Gente”. The 9x Grammy Award winner event will open with Ray Carrion & Thee Latin All Stars performing a tribute to Ralfi Pagan with special guests Art Webb, Chino Espinosa & Bob Desena. This performance by Carrion will also introduce a new CD “Tribute to Ralfi Pagan” making its debut that evening. All this at A Mi Hacienda Restaurant & Night Club in Pico Rivera from 3-8pm.

Gilberto Santa Rosa celebrates his 40th anniversary with an HBO special, back in February, with invited guests like Tito Nieves, Willie Rosario, Victor Manuelle, Luis Enrique, Paquito Guzman, Mario Ortiz Jr., Pirulo, Eddie Santiago, Victor Garcia & La Sonora Sanjuanera, Don Perignon, Tommy Olivencia Jr., and others all leading to the new recording with Victor Garcia & La Sonora Sanjuanera that just hit the streets. Luisto Ayala y su Puerto Rican Power is also celebrating their 40th with a new recording to be released soon.

Congratulations to Andy Montañez, Chucho Valdes and Wilfrido Vargas who will get Premio a La Excelencia Musical 2018 at this years Latin Grammy’s. Previous winners included Willie Colon, Graciela, Johnny Pacheco, Generoso Jimenez, Richie Ray & Bobby Cruz, Johnny Ventura, Cheo Feliciano, Candido (Camero), Joseito Mateo, Joe Arroyo, Poncho Sanchez, Oscar D’Leon, Juan Formell, Eddie Palmieri, Willy Chirino, Gato Barbieri, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, and Cuco Valoy. A big plus for the Grammy’s to recognize these giants. Next should be Ruben Blades, Willie Rosario, Bobby Valentin, Papo Lucca, Johnny Colon, the Lebron Brothers, Johnny Zamot, Ismael Miranda, Milly y Los Vecinos, Juan Luis Guerra, Javier Vazquez (Sonora Matancera) and Joe Bataan.

Larry Harlow, Yomo Toro, Ray Santos, Federico Britos, Jon Fausty and Lalo Schifrin have been awarded the Premio Del Consejo Directivo.