Tune into Echoes tonight for the Grammy Awards you wish you could see on TV.

This Sunday,  February 13 the 53rd Grammy Awards take place.   Another year, another set of Grammy Awards.  Many of us become inured to these awards which purport to honor the best and brightest in music.  But usually, it’s only the most popular and hyped who run away with the honors.  And if your music universe exists outside the mainstream, the Grammys can seem totally irrelevant.  But the fact is, they are a signpost of music, a thumbtack in the sonic landscape.  And no matter what category an artist is in, or how cynical they might be about the process, a Grammy Award is meaningful to those nominated and those who win.

This year the Grammys have a wide sampling of music that’s left-of-center, and many of them come from the Echoes Universe, often in surprising categories.    Take BEST POP INSTRUMENTAL PERFORMANCE.  This used to be the haven of middle of the road musicians, but this year’s entries include “Flow” by Laurie Anderson from her CD, Homeland,  “Nessun Dorma” by Jeff Beck from Emotion & Commotion, Stanley Clarke with his old Return to Forever tune,  “No Mystery” from The Stanley Clarke Band album and Gorillaz “Plastic Beach” from Sleepwalk.  Not quite the MOR selections you’d expect.  In the Year of Jeff Beck, I’d expect him to take the category.  He’s also nominated for Best Rock Album, but that might be too high a hill to climb.

The NEW AGE Category is the usual mix of the bland, the boring, the brilliant and WTF.  In the WTF category comes Zamora.  He’s a Venezuelan New Age keyboardist whose albums all sport the uplifting titles Instrumental Oasis, Volume 1 through infinity.   He’s nominated for Volume 4.  He’s yet another artist who slips in without a soul knowing who he is.  Just read my blog on last year’s Grammys, Grammy Awards Goof Again In New Age.  Where ever you see the name Henta, insert Zamora.   Other, more worthy nominees are artists you may have actually heard of:  Kitaro, Paul Winter, R. Carlos Nakai and lesser known, Michael Brant DeMaria.    The Nakai-Eaton-Clipman album, Dancing Into Silence was an Echoes CD of the Month in February 2010 and was on our year end 25 Essential Echoes CDs list and The Best of Echoes 2010 Listener Poll.   It should get Nakai his first Grammy after many nominations, but I suspect it will go to Paul Winter who always seems to nab these awards even though he thinks “New Age” rhythms with “sewage.”  Nakai should actually be nominated in the Native American category, but that nominating committee has successfully aced out anyone not playing traditional Native American music.

Other worthwhile nominees this year include Robert Plant for Best Americana Album, Band of Joy, which we actually played on Echoes, Ali Farka Touré & Toumani Diabaté for their sublime album of duets for kora and guitar,  Ali And Toumani in Traditional World Music and a couple of good entries in soundtracks including  Avatar by James Horner and Inception from Hans Zimmer.  My choice might go to Zimmer.  Horner rips off everyone from Philip Glass to Kitaro, but Zimmer only rips off himself, notably, his score for The Thin Red Line.

There are also two good Classical Crossover Albums.  Off The Map by Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and
Vocabularies from Bobby McFerrin.

And let’s not forget to root for Justin Bieber for BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM.   You can’t possibly forget Bieber’s version of “U Smile” slowed down 800%.

You can hear the best of the Grammy’s that you won’t see on the Sunday telecast of the Grammy Awards by listening to Echoes at the Grammys tonight (02/11/11) or on some of your weekend Echoes stations like WITF in Harrisburg, PA.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))



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