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53rd GRAMMY Awards Season Hits High Notes

GRAMMY telecast draws largest audience in more than a decade, "GRAMMY Effect" increases album sales and GRAMMY Week features diverse slate of programs

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

The 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards on Feb. 13 showcased an eclectic mix of musical performances and special segments that once again gave CBS and GRAMMY Sunday increased ratings with 26.7 million viewers (up from 25.8 million last year), and delivered the largest audience in more than a decade, as well as topping all shows for the entire week. The 16 signature GRAMMY Moments showcased legends and newcomers throughout the three-and-a-half-hour show. Music's Biggest Night was up in adults 18–49, adults 18–34 and adults 25–54 from last year (the best demos since 2004).

GRAMMY Week events — including the annual MusiCares Person of the Year gala, GRAMMY Career Day, Special Merit Awards Ceremony & Nominees Reception, Clive Davis and The Recording Academy's Pre-GRAMMY Gala, Social Media Rock Stars Summit, and more — highlighted education, philanthropy, advocacy, diverse artists, and musical genres, and set records with increased guests and media attendance. Aggressive social networking and marketing and a user-friendly redesign helped increase traffic to GRAMMY.com, and the "GRAMMY Effect" the week following the show resulted in significantly increased album sales and digital song downloads for performers and GRAMMY-winning artists. Additionally, The Recording Academy furthered its efforts to present a greener GRAMMY Awards by once again reducing the environmental impact of the telecast and associated GRAMMY Week events.

"From our extraordinary GRAMMY nominees and recipients to the unique, special and historic performances, everyone can agree that one basic premise was clearly evident: the 53rd GRAMMY Awards was about the music. This is precisely what the GRAMMY Awards and The Recording Academy represent — excellence in recorded music," said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. "We are exceptionally proud to continue to offer unparalleled events throughout GRAMMY Week, which spotlight the best in music as well as highlight education, preservation and human services. It's also gratifying to see consumers and fans continue to engage with the GRAMMYs through our social networking sites and GRAMMY.com, demonstrating the power of Music's Biggest Night."

GRAMMY Awards Performers And Presenters
Building on the stunning opening tribute to Aretha Franklin featuring Yolanda Adams, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson, Martina McBride, and Florence Welch, many other great GRAMMY Moments followed on this year's telecast, including Arcade Fire; Justin Bieber and Usher with Jaden Smith; B.o.B, Bruno Mars and Janelle Monáe; Drake and Rihanna; Eminem with Dr. Dre, Skylar Grey, Adam Levine, and Rihanna; Mick Jagger with Raphael Saadiq; Lady Antebellum; Cee Lo Green with Gwyneth Paltrow and the Jim Henson Company Puppets; Lady Gaga; Miranda Lambert; Muse; Katy Perry; Barbra Streisand; and Esperanza Spalding in a special segment with members of the GRAMMY Jazz Ensembles and GRAMMY Camp. Presenters included Marc Anthony, Dierks Bentley, Zac Brown, Miley Cyrus, Jamie Foxx, Selena Gomez, Neil Patrick Harris, Jewel, Norah Jones, Kris Kristofferson, John Legend, LL Cool J, Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin, Clay Matthews, John Mayer, Nicki Minaj, Matthew Morrison, Paramore, Pauley Perrette, Seth Rogen, Ryan Seacrest, Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, Donnie Wahlberg, and will.i.am.

GRAMMY Nominees Album And The "GRAMMY Effect"
The 2011 GRAMMY Nominees album made its debut at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 album chart (tying the series' highest debut) and continued its success after the telecast by remaining in the Top 10. This year, The Recording Academy and Jive Records teamed to release the 17th edition of the best-selling series, which highlighted artists and songs nominated for the current GRAMMY year. A portion of proceeds from the sale of the CD benefits MusiCares and the GRAMMY Foundation. Additionally, post-GRAMMY telecast, numerous artists enjoyed the "GRAMMY Effect" with significant sales increases, including Esperanza Spalding (up 476 percent), Arcade Fire (238 percent), Lady Antebellum (205 percent), Mumford & Sons (169 percent), Cee Lo Green (96 percent), Eminem (60 percent), and Bruno Mars (55 percent), among others. Increases on the Digital Songs chart included Mumford & Sons' "The Cave" (205 percent), Cee Lo Green's "F* You/Forget You" (178 percent), Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" (77 percent), and Justin Bieber featuring Jaden Smith's "Never Say Never" (67 percent), among others. The Academy was once again able to offer a number of this year's once-in-a-lifetime performances as video downloads on iTunes.

TBWA\Chiat\Day Marketing Campaign
The 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards marketing campaign MusicIsLifeIsMusic — which featured print, outdoor, digital, TV, an interactive microsite, and the MusicMapper app, available on iPhone and Android devices — celebrated the songs that have significance in one's life and the places connected to those songs. Utilizing social networking and geolocation, music fans were able to map out their musical journeys and share them with others. The fully integrated campaign highlighted music fans' unprecedented impact in the current digital age. MusicIsLifeIsMusic told the stories of both nominees and music fans, and not only allowed users the opportunity to map their own respective musical journeys, they explored other MusicMapper tags through an augmented reality view that provided an innovative, real-life glimpse at how "music is life is music." By using a mobile device camera, users could see others' tags, Flickr photos and Foursquare check-ins associated with the space they enter. Additionally, fans had the ability to unlock exclusive GRAMMY content based on their physical location as determined by SimpleGeo. Via a QR Code Reader on all print material and outdoor advertisements, users accessed eight full-length GRAMMY performances from past shows. The microsite and iPhone and Android apps continue to live on beyond the telecast.

GRAMMY Live
For the second consecutive year, music fans worldwide had the opportunity to experience and participate in the color and excitement leading up to GRAMMY Sunday through GRAMMY Live — a real-time, innovative, three-day online broadcast of the VIP events leading up to the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards. The GRAMMY Live stream of the road to Music's Biggest Night began on Friday, Feb. 11, at 2 p.m. PT and ran through Sunday, Feb. 13, and received 20 million views collectively between GRAMMY.com and YouTube.com/thegrammys. GRAMMY Live featured video, photos, blogs, tweets and retweets, as well as official news reports and personalized updates from hosts actor/comedian Ben Gleib, TV/Web personality Shira Lazar and veteran broadcast music journalist John Norris. Exclusive behind-the-scenes GRAMMY cams gave the audience an insider's view into GRAMMY Week events including the Social Media Rock Stars Summit; MusiCares Person of the Year tribute; Special Merit Awards Ceremony & Nominees Reception; Pre-GRAMMY Gala featuring the 2011 GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons; and all the action on GRAMMY Sunday, including red-carpet arrivals, the Pre-Telecast Ceremony, and the official GRAMMY Celebration after-party. Additional behind-the-scenes footage offered viewers a "dual-screen" experience, complementing the GRAMMY telecast with red-carpet coverage, backstage interviews, exclusive photo sessions with winners (with renowned photographer Danny Clinch), press room sessions, and past GRAMMY moments.

GRAMMY Pre-Telecast Ceremony
The GRAMMY Pre-Telecast Ceremony — during which awards for a majority of the 108 categories were presented — took place at the Los Angeles Convention Center prior to the telecast and enjoyed its largest attendance to date. Once again, the ceremony was streamed live on GRAMMY.com and the stream was available for 30 days following the event. The Pre-Telecast live stream was viewed by more than 460,000 visitors, a 130 percent increase over last year. The ceremony was co-hosted by Bobby McFerrin and Esperanza Spalding and featured live performances by ChocQuibTown, Buddy Guy, Cyndi Lauper, Maria Muldaur, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Mavis Staples, Trombone Shorty, Kirk Whalum, and Betty Wright. GRAMMY Awards were presented by Laurie Anderson, Sara Bareilles, BT, Kathy Griffin, and Wayne Wallace. Overall, GRAMMYs in 46 out of 108 categories this year were awarded to independent artists and/or music released on an independent label.

GRAMMY Week Events
Official GRAMMY Week events presented a diversity of celebrations leading up to Music's Biggest Night. For the fourth year, The Producers & Engineers Wing presented an event that paid tribute to those "behind the glass," honoring legendary producer and 12-time GRAMMY winner T Bone Burnett. Titled Shaken Rattled & Rolled, the event was held at the Village recording studio in Los Angeles and celebrated the P&E Wing's 10th anniversary. With record-breaking attendance numbers, the Special Merit Awards Ceremony, held at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, presented Lifetime Achievement Awards to Julie Andrews, Roy Haynes, Juilliard String Quartet, the Kingston Trio, Dolly Parton, the Ramones, and George Beverly Shea; Al Bell, Wilma Cozart Fine and Bruce Lundvall received the Trustees Award; and Roger Linn and Waves Audio Ltd. were Technical GRAMMY Award honorees.

Pre-GRAMMY Gala And GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons
The Recording Academy once again partnered with Clive Davis to present the exclusive, star-studded Pre-GRAMMY Gala and GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons event at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Entertainment entrepreneur David Geffen was honored with the President's Merit Award for his indelible contributions to the music industry. The event featured performances by Mary J. Blige, Cee Lo Green, Whitney Houston, Jennifer Hudson, R. Kelly, Janelle Monáe, Matthew Morrison, Mumford & Sons, and Dionne Warwick. Attendees included Warren Beatty, the Black Eyed Peas, Jackson Browne, Cher, Diddy, Foo Fighters, David Foster, Quincy Jones, Chaka Khan, Adam Lambert, Ray LaMontagne, Barry Manilow, Bruno Mars, John Mayer, Martina McBride, Katy Perry, Usher, and Neil Young, among many others.

GRAMMY Celebration
The party continued immediately following the live GRAMMY telecast at the Los Angeles Convention Center with the largest-ever guest attendance at the 2011 GRAMMY Celebration, The Academy's official after-party. Live performances included Keri Hilson, the Roots, DJ Wayne, and members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and the GRAMMY Jazz Ensembles. Chef extraordinaire Wolfgang Puck once again treated guests to gourmet dishes and sweet delights throughout the three-and-a-half-hour party. Produced by Along Came Mary Productions, the exclusive invitation-only soiree took guests back to the '70s with a journey through a Night at Studio 54 and was one of the night's most sought-after parties.

GRAMMYs Get Greener
In an ongoing effort to reduce the environmental impact of the GRAMMY Awards, The Academy continued its greening initiative and found additional ways to utilize alternative energy resources to power the telecast and promote recycling and waste reduction. For the fourth consecutive year, the GRAMMY telecast was produced with renewable energy, which was purchased by The Recording Academy. Additionally, The Academy collaborated with Bonneville Environmental Foundation to balance the energy consumption over the course of the seven-day period of setup and tear down by investing in existing clean energy projects. The Academy continued its partnership with Waste Management to recycle waste from the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Other greening achievements included: a red-carpet made from 100 percent recycled materials (which were used at the 51st and 52nd GRAMMY Awards); for the second year in a row, all incoming GRAMMY ticket requests were processed electronically; recycled content paper was used for nearly all paper products (including 100 percent recycled content tickets, with 30 percent post-consumer content, and program books printed on recycled paper with 10 percent post-consumer content); recycling bins for aluminum, glass and plastic containers provided at both Staples Center and LACC, in addition to a number of other GRAMMY Week events; most set pieces and furniture were either rentals or stored for reuse; unused food from staff box lunches and the GRAMMY Celebration after-party were donated to local food banks; the Wolfgang Puck after-party menu incorporated locally grown and organic options.

For the first time this year, The Academy teamed with 100% Cork and ReCORK to recycle corks from wine bottles used at the GRAMMY Celebration. More than 1,000 corks were diverted from landfills and repurposed for various industrial, household and fashion goods. Also a first-year collaboration, The Academy teamed with ridesharing company Ride Amigos, allowing guests attending the 53rd GRAMMY Awards to connect with each other online and organize carpools to Staples Center.

GRAMMY Foundation
This year's GRAMMY Foundation GRAMMY Week events took guests and GRAMMY nominees through unique educational and cultural experiences. For the second year, the GRAMMY Foundation presented GRAMMY In The Schools Live! — which featured the GRAMMY Jazz Ensembles, student alumni from GRAMMY Camp and GRAMMY Signature Schools, with a special guest performance by Sara Bareilles. The Ensembles also performed at Spaghettini Italian Grill & Lounge in Seal Beach, Calif., with special guest artist Esperanza Spalding; the MusiCares Person of the Year tribute; and the GRAMMY Celebration after-party. Legendary Capitol Studios & Mastering was again provided by the EMI Music Group for the Ensembles to record an album that will join the lineup of previous Ensembles recordings available for purchase at online music outlets such as iTunes and Amazon.

GRAMMY Career Day hosted 750 Los Angeles-area students at the USC campus where high school students were given insight into music business careers from artists including GRAMMY-winning producer Warryn Campbell; GRAMMY-winning songwriting team Angela Hunte and Jane't "Jnay" Sewell-Ulepic; artist JoiStarr; songwriter/producer Claude Kelly; rapper Lecrae; GRAMMY-winning engineer Manny Marroquin; artists Mohombi and Kelly Price; multi-platinum producer RedOne; singer/songwriter Eric Roberson; and recording artist Jordin Sparks. Participating industry professionals included "Glee" music producer Adam Anders; Recording Academy Chair Emeritus, GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCares Board member and five-time GRAMMY winner Jimmy Jam; "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" musical director Rickey Minor; Chair of the GRAMMY Foundation Board and Chief Marketing Officer of Coca-Cola North America Bea Perez; and MusiCares Board member and Head of Urban Music for EMI Music Publishing Jon Platt. A special highlight of GRAMMY Career Day was Best Buy's presentation of a check for $1.24 million to the GRAMMY Foundation in support of music education activities.

The Foundation's 13th Annual Music Preservation Project, Word Revolution: A Celebration Of The Evolution Of Hip-Hop, featured live musical performances and historical footage from preservation archives. Kevin Frazier of "Entertainment Tonight" and "Insider" was the evening's host and performers included Marsha Ambrosius; GRAMMY winners Arrested Development and Chrisette Michele; Beat Freaks from "America's Best Dance Crew"; DJ Beverly Bond; Brave New Voices; Everlast; DJ Jazzy Jeff; Kid Capri; Lil Mama; MC Lyte; Musiq Soulchild; Naughty By Nature; Phife from A Tribe Called Quest; DJ Skee; Paul Wall; and Young Chris, among others.

The annual Entertainment Law Initiative & Scholarship Presentation featured seven-time GRAMMY winner and GRAMMY Foundation Board member will.i.am as keynote speaker. The luncheon also honored John T. Frankenheimer, distinguished entertainment attorney, partner and co-chairman of Loeb & Loeb LLP, and chair of the firm's music industry practice group, as the recipient of the 2011 Service Award.

MusiCares Person Of The Year
Eight-time GRAMMY winner, Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award and GRAMMY Legend Award recipient Barbra Streisand was honored as the 2011 MusiCares Person of the Year with a tribute that raised a record-breaking $4.75 million to support MusiCares' programs and services for music people in need. The 21st anniversary of the gala, which was attended by a record audience of more than 2,400 guests, included a special reception, silent auction, dinner, award presentation, and a star-studded tribute concert that featured performances by Jeff Beck; Tony Bennett; Kristin Chenoweth; "Glee" cast members Lea Michele, Matthew Morrison and Darren Criss; Herbie Hancock; Faith Hill; Diana Krall; Leona Lewis; Barry Manilow; LeAnn Rimes; Seal; BeBe Winans; Stevie Wonder; and Nikki Yanofsky. Streisand closed the evening with her own special performance. Fran Drescher, Bill Maher and multi-GRAMMY-winning artists Prince and will.i.am were presenters at the tribute.

GRAMMY Charity Online Auctions
In celebration of the GRAMMY Awards, GRAMMY Charity Online Auctions offered approximately 100 exclusive items, including once-in-a-lifetime VIP experiences, memorabilia from world-renowned celebrities, and official GRAMMY merchandise signed by participating stars backstage during telecast rehearsals and show day. All proceeds benefited MusiCares and the GRAMMY Foundation.
 

And The GRAMMY Went To ... Esperanza Spalding
Esperanza Spalding

Photo: Michael Caulfield/WireImage.com

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And The GRAMMY Went To ... Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding, Best New Artist

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

(In the coming weeks GRAMMY.com will feature information and video highlights on winners from the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards, held Feb. 13 in Los Angeles. Each installment will offer the winning or related video and some pertinent, and not so pertinent, information about the track and the artists.)

Track: "Little Fly" (iTunes>)

Artist: Esperanza Spalding

Won for: Best New Artist

Previous wins: None

Did you know?: Spalding was hired as an instructor at the prestigious Berklee College of Music at just 20 years old. She is the first pure jazz artist to win the coveted Best New Artist award. On her 2008 album Esperanza, Spalding sings in English, Portuguese and Spanish. At the invitation of President Barack Obama, she performed at both the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony in Oslo, Norway, and also at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in 2009. Along with Bobby McFerrin, she co-hosted this year's 53rd GRAMMY Pre-Telecast Ceremony.

"Little Fly" is the opening track on Spalding's 2010 release Chamber Music Society, and is an illustration of William Blake's poem "Little Fly." The album peaked at No. 3 on Billboard's Jazz Albums chart.

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Ladies Antebellum And Gaga, Jeff Beck, David Frost, John Legend Win Three GRAMMYs Each

Arcade Fire wins Album Of The Year; Esperanza Spalding wins Best New Artist

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

(To view a list of 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards winners, click here.)

The evening began with a tribute to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, but by the time the last of the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards was handed out on Feb. 13, several other singers and bands looked something like royalty. Foremost among them was Lady Antebellum, who walked away with three trophies while the group members earned two more each for songwriting categories.

Lady Antebellum at the GRAMMYs

 

During a show memorable for its range of fully fueled performances, the country superstars sang a pitch-perfect medley of tunes that ended with a quiet rendition of the song that launched them, "Need You Now," and shortly afterward collected the Song Of The Year GRAMMY for it (along with co-writer Josh Kear, with whom they also took Best Country Song). But there was plenty more to come for the trio. They also took home the GRAMMY for Best Country Album for Need You Now. Accepting that award, lead singer Charles Kelley said, "This song has completely flipped our world upside down." By the time Lady Antebellum stood up to collect a trophy for Record Of The Year for "Need You Now," they were in disbelief, and possibly discombobulated: "Oh my gosh, we're so stunned we started walking the wrong direction," said singer Hillary Scott breathlessly.

Also racking up awards was Lady Gaga, who claimed three: Best Pop Vocal Album for The Fame Monster, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Short Form Music Video for "Bad Romance." Never one to miss the chance to make an entrance, she hatched herself onstage from a giant opaque egg. That was a riff on her new single, "Born This Way," and perhaps her bared shoulders, which sprouted a pair of pointy elbows, were too. Her dancers and outfit gave off a Cleopatra vibe, but Gaga can't be stopped from seeming ultra-modern, and her performance of "Born This Way" reflected that; it was a warp-speed whirlwind.

Lady Gaga at the GRAMMYs



 

In keeping with that same modernist — or maybe futurist — spirit, she accepted her award for Best Pop Vocal Album in black body armor. But Gaga also proved she can be an old-fashioned girl with a soft side. In an emotional acceptance speech for that award, she surprised the audience by thanking Whitney Houston: "I imagined she was singing…because I wasn't secure enough in myself to imagine I was a superstar. Whitney, I imagined you."

Leading the nominees with 10 nods revolving around Recovery, an album that detailed his struggles with addiction but also reestablished him as a rap force to be reckoned with, Eminem took home trophies for Best Rap Album — a triumph over rivals including Jay-Z, Drake and B.o.B — and Best Rap Solo Performance for "Not Afraid." Onstage, his swagger proved undiminished.

A flame-haired Rihanna opened Eminem's performance with a searching rendition of their duet "Love The Way You Lie," but it was Slim Shady who came out blazing, spitting the lyrics to that song before raging into "I Need A Doctor" with Dr. Dre and singer Skylar Grey; Adam Levine from Maroon 5 handled piano duty.

Closing the show and likely lifting the Sunday-night spirits of indie kids everywhere was the Canadian collective Arcade Fire, who won the Album Of The Year GRAMMY for The Suburbs and, before the night's final performance, turned in a frothy and fierce rendition of the rocking "Month Of May."

Arcade Fire at the GRAMMYs

 

Other multiple winners for the evening included classical music producer David Frost, legendary rock guitarist Jeff Beck and R&B artist John Legend, who each earned three awards. Among those who won two each were alternative rock band the Black Keys, jazz giant Herbie Hancock, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, urban/alternative group the Roots, Keith Urban, and gospel singer BeBe Winans.

And in a bit of surprise, jazz bassist Esperanza Spalding won Best New Artist over teen phenom Justin Bieber, as well Canadian rapper Drake, and adventurist rock outfits Florence & The Machine and Mumford & Sons.

Esperanza Spalding at the GRAMMYs

 

The show also featured a few firsts, including a first-time ever GRAMMY performance by Rolling Stone frontman Mick Jagger, who helped pay tribute to fallen R&B singer Solomon Burke.

But if there was also a constant, it was the annual, high-profile celebration of music that the GRAMMYs represent, and the 53rd GRAMMYs fit the bill once again, with performances, pairings and awards presentations that were full of pleasant musical surprises.
 

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And The GRAMMY Went To ... Usher

Usher's "There Goes My Baby"

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

(In the coming weeks GRAMMY.com will feature information and video highlights on winners from the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards, held Feb. 13 in Los Angeles. Each installment will offer the winning or related video and some pertinent, and not so pertinent, information about the track and the artists.)

Track: "There Goes My Baby" (iTunes>)

Artist: Usher

Won for: Best Male R&B Vocal Performance

Previous wins: Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 2001 for "U Remind Me"; Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 2002 for "U Don't Have To Call"; Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals in 2004 for "My Boo" with Alicia Keys; Best Contemporary R&B Album in 2004 for Confessions; Best Rap/Sung Collaboration in 2004 for "Yeah!" with Lil Jon and Ludacris
 

Did you know?: "There Goes My Baby" is featured on Usher's sixth studio album, Raymond V Raymond, his third release to top the Billboard 200 and his second to pick up Best Contemporary R&B Album honors. "There Goes My Baby" cracked the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100, and Usher performed his No. 1 single "OMG" on Sunday's GRAMMY telecast with his protégé Justin Bieber. With the help of Usher, Bieber landed a recording contract with Island Def Jam Music Group Chairman & CEO Antonio "L.A." Reid at the age of 15, just one year older than Usher was when he signed with Reid's LaFace label in 1992. Usher launched an acting career in the '90s, appearing in films such as The Faculty and Light It Up. He is a part owner of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, and owns his own record label, US Records.

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GRAMMY Jazz Band Plays Duke Ellington, Count Basie & More | 2018 GRAMMY Week

Baritone saxophonist Veronica Leahy

Photo: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

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GRAMMY Jazz Band Plays Duke Ellington, Count Basie & More | 2018 GRAMMY Week

The GRAMMY In The Schools Live! program showcased the formidable chops of this year's GRAMMY Camp — Jazz Session band and celebrated music education in the Big Apple

GRAMMYs/Jan 26, 2018 - 11:46 am

After spending the first few days of GRAMMY Week getting acquainted, rehearsing and plotting their schedule, the members of GRAMMY Camp — Jazz Session finally got to let the music do the talking at the GRAMMY In The Schools Live! concert in New York City on Jan. 25.

Taking place at The New School's John L. Tishman Auditorium, the GRAMMY Museum event proved to not only showcase this year's class of Jazz Session students and the many alumni of the program who were in attendance, but it also spotlighted the year-round initiatives of the Museum, which include a range of programs for youth musicians and music education.

The event also acknowledged the Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum's 2018 Music Educator Award recipient Melissa Salguero, a music teacher at P.S. 48 in the South Bronx.

"This is one of the most epic moments of my life. My dream was to teach in a city that loved and cherished music," said Salguero. "To be honored in New York City as a New York teacher, this has been one of the most amazing experiences in my life."

But on this January evening, the spotlight shone brightly on the 18 young musicians in the Jazz Session band — comprising five saxophones, five trumpets, four trombones, bass, drums, guitar, and piano.

With direction from conductor Justin DiCioccio, the band performed a taught set list showcasing, in DiCioccio's words, the "different styles and moods of jazz." Out of the gate, the band swung through Neal Hefti's "Whirly Bird" with a brisk fervor, highlighted by the sax chairs trading solos.

They segued into "Cabeza De Carne," a Latin clave-based tune that put some pep in the audience's collective step, and Benny Golson's "Along Came Betty," which seemed to bottle the sounds one might hear at 2 a.m. at a late-night NYC jazz club.

"We've had one rehearsal, by the way," quipped DiCioccio in between songs.

Following a take on Randy Brecker's "Sponge," which featured cool riffing and angular walking bass lines courtesy of guitarist Jordan Reifkind and bassist Augustus "Gus" Allen, respectively, the Jazz Session members kicked into high gear.

The ensemble performed a spirited take of Buddy Rich's "West Side Story Suite." The multi-layered composition was chosen in honor of the centennials of composer Leonard Bernstein and famed drummer Rich. Appropriately, the sprawling tune was sparked by brassy punctuations and impressive stick work by drummer Varun Das.

Next, the musicians' showcased depth and range that belied their experience on "Red Hair, No Freckles," a complex piece composed by GRAMMY Museum Executive Education Director David Sears, who offered, "If we play it right, your body should move." Judging by the audience reaction, they indeed got it right. The collective navigated the multiple odd time signatures in the piece with aplomb while interpreting the tune's R&B, funk and progressive pop flavors that ably mixed elements of Earth, Wind & Fire, James Brown and Chicago.

For a special encore, the Jazz Session band was joined by one of their own, alumni Jon Batiste. The gregarious pianist/bandleader for "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" — who came straight from a show taping to play with the students — sat in for a performance of Duke Ellington's "Kiki" and Count Basie's "Splanky."

In the presence of the senior musician, the band upped their game and matched Batiste's fire, measure by measure. For his part, the smiling Batiste dazzled the ivories, with his playing light as a feather and forceful at the appropriate moments and improvised solos that were ripe with articulate calls and responses, motifs and linear flourishes. Jazz Session pianist Esteban Castro, who stepped aside for the final two songs, smiled for the duration as he witnessed the masterclass.

As for the Jazz Session members, the experience and education they amass during their GRAMMY Week crash course will certainly bode well for their future careers. And the time they are spending together in the Big Apple constitutes a form of networking, which one alumnus described as an integral part of the GRAMMY Camp — Jazz Session experience.

"[I advise them to] keep in touch with each other," said David Grossman, a pianist/bassist who was a Jazz Session band member in the mid-'90s. "They might know this but their fellow bandmates, hopefully, they'll know [each other] for a long, long time."

"These are some of the finest young jazz players in the country and we are giving them a very unique lens of what it means to work in music," said Scott Goldman, Executive Director of the GRAMMY Museum. "The kind of challenges that they will face as a working musician, the kind of discipline that is required by a working musician — this is an experience that I don't think you are going to get in any conservatory setting."


Catching Up On The GRAMMY Awards Just Got Easier. Have A Google Home Device? Just Say "Talk To GRAMMYs"