The GRAMMY Awards honor recordings in 108 categories across 31 fields, from rap to rock to classical. To help readers get a better sense of the breadth of the nominees and the wealth of recordings they've created over the last year, GRAMMY.com has prepared these field Roundups, which provide quick but insightful comments on the nominees in an easy-to-read format.
Nominees for PRODUCER OF THE YEAR, NON-CLASSICAL, are a combination of veterans and newcomers this year. Howard Benson (who is both an aerospace engineer and a recording engineer) has contributed greatly to rock's recent renaissance, reflected in the records he’s nominated for including Hoobastank's Every Man For Himself, Papa Roach's The Paramour Sessions and Less Than Jake's In With The Out Crowd. Multiple GRAMMY winner T Bone Burnett returns with records for Cassandra Wilson (Thunderbird), the soundtrack for the Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line and his own The True False Identity. Mash-master Danger Mouse reprises his nomination last year with productions for the Rapture and Gnarls Barkley's St. Elsewhere. Eclectic producer and entrepreneur Rick Rubin, who has been nominated three times previously in this category, is back for his work with the late Johnny Cash as well as with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Dixie Chicks and Neil Diamond. The first production nomination for triple-threat artist/composer/producer Will.i.am is a strong suite of pop and R&B with records for Mary J. Blige, Fergie, Justin Timberlake, Santana, Busta Rhymes and legendary instrumentalist Sergio Mendes.
For BEST ENGINEERED ALBUM, NON-CLASSICAL, the ubiquitous Gary Paczosa, who has won eight GRAMMY Awards for engineering and production in the folk, country and bluegrass categories, was at the console when Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy paired for Adieu False Heart. Paczosa has a second nomination in conjunction with Brandon Bell and Terry Christian for helping Alan Jackson keep it country on Like Red On A Rose. The Flaming Lips joined forces with Dave Fridmann — often referred to as the "fifth Flaming Lip" — to engineer the band's At War With The Mystics. Marcelo Pennell, Dean Sharenow and Tommy Vicari joined forces on The Phat Pack for Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band. Rounding out the category are Rik Pekkonen and longtime Keb' Mo' collaborator John Porter for their work on the artist's Suitcase album.
The category of BEST REMIXED RECORDING, NON-CLASSICAL, recognizes that an entirely new cohort of technically and creatively gifted engineers has emerged that illustrate how flexible music can be. This year remixer Moto Blanco is nominated for his version of Mary J. Blige's “Be Without You (Moto Blanco Vocal Mix).” Buick Project lends their name and their talent to their take on the Tiefschwarz & Tracey Thorn track “Damage Thorn (Buick Project Remix).” Russell Small and James Wiltshire worked their magic on “Deja Vu (Freemasons Club Mix — No Rap)” for Beyoncé. Jacques Lu Cont, who won in this category at the 47th GRAMMY Awards in 2004, is nominated again, this time for his remix of Coldplay's “Talk (Thin White Duke Mix).” E-Smoove appears for the remix of Bob Sinclair's “World On Hold (E-Smoove Remix).”
The BEST SURROUND SOUND ALBUM category is now in its third year of recognizing multichannel sound as its own art form, and this year's nominations underscore how the surround concept attracts artists across the spectrum from classical and pop to jazz and world music — and even a little comedy. Surround mix engineers for the Ensemble 96 recording of Immortal Nystedt, conducted by Øystein Fevang, were Hans Peter L'Orange and Morten Lindberg. The latter is also nominated for his work as a surround mastering engineer and surround producer on the album. On Ladysmith Black Mambazo's Long Walk To Freedom, Martin Walters performs a hat trick as the surround mix engineer, surround mastering engineer and surround producer. Surround evangelist and multiple GRAMMY-winner Elliot Scheiner is nominated this year for the latest of his many collaborations with Steely Dan alumnus and surround producer Donald Fagen, Morph The Cat, for which Darcy Proper is nominated as surround mastering engineer. Alan Parsons' album A Valid Path has bought a shared nomination for the visionary auteur and P.J. Olsson for the album’s surround mix and to Bob Michaels as surround mastering engineer. Parsons is also the surround producer. Parody king and two-time GRAMMY winner "Weird Al" Yankovic is the surround producer of his album Straight Outta Lynnwood, with the surround mix by Tony Papa and surround mastering by Bernie Grundman.
For BEST ENGINEERED ALBUM, CLASSICAL, multiple GRAMMY winner and Telarc Records chief engineer Michael Bishop returns with a nomination for his engineering on Elgar: Enigma Variations; Britten: The Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra, Four Sea Interludes, by Paavo Järvi & Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Another very familiar name is Skywalker Sounds' Leslie Ann Jones, who this year is nominated with Judy Kirschner for their work on the Quartet San Francisco's Látigo. The engineering team of Wolf-Dieter Karwatky and Rainer Maillard tamed Mahler's challenging Symphony No. 2, performed by the Wiener Philharmonike. Previous nominee in this category, John Newton, a pioneer in digital recording and in musical technology academia, is nominated for Requiem (Craig Hella Johnson & Conspirare). Jack Renner, who has won in this category seven times in the past, is nominated once again for his work on Vaughn Williams: Mass In G Min., And Other A Cappella Works, performed by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chamber Chorus.
In the category of PRODUCER OF THE YEAR, CLASSICAL, legendary ECM label founder Manfred Eicher is nominated for his work on Honegger/Martinù/Bach/Pintscher/Ravel (Frank Peter Zimmermann & Heinrich Schiff) and Kurtág: Kafka-Fragmente (Juliane Banse & András Keller); Nuove Musiche (Rolf Lislevand, Arianna Savall, Pedro Estevan, Bjørn Kjellemyr, Guido Morini, Marco Ambrosini & Thor-Harald Johnsen), among others. Producer Stephen Johns, who works regularly with Simon Rattle, is nominated for the latter's Holst: The Planets (with the Berliner Philharmoniker) as well as Angel Dances (12 Cellists Of Berliner Philharmoniker) and others. Three-time GRAMMY Award winner James Mallinson is nominated this year for his productions of Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (Bernard Haitink & London Symphony Orchestra) and Elgar: The Dream Of Gerontius (Sir Colin Davis, Anne Sofie Von Otter, Alastair Miles, David Rendall, London Symphony Chorus & London Symphony Orchestra) among several other works. Elaine Martone, whose oeuvre spans classical and jazz, is nominated for the first time in this category for her work on, among other titles, Del Tredici: Paul Revere's Ride; Theofanidis: The Here And Now; Bernstein: Lamentation (Robert Spano, Norman Mackenzie, Hila Plitmann & Atlanta Symphony Orchestra And Chorus) and Elgar: Enigma Variations; Britten: The Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra, Four Sea Interludes (Paavo Järvi & Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra). Deutsche Grammophon producer Sid McLauchlan earns a nomination for his work on several recordings, including Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 5 & 7 (Gustavo Dudamel & Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra Of Venezuela) and Golijov: Ainadamar: Fountain Of Tears (Robert Spano, Kelley O'Connor, Women Of The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Dawn Upshaw).