Correspondence: A Grammy Plea

Not all of the campaigning this month is political. It is not unusual at this time of year to receive from recording musicians suggestions that they be nominated for awards from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. As part of his quest to win a Grammy nomination, the British film composer, band leader and saxophonist John Altman sent the following message:

I’m really disappointed. My new CD, The Jazz Soul Of Paris Hilton, has not been nominated for a Grammy. The followup to my brilliant CD Britney Spears: The Jazz Years, it has garnered rave reviews in the jazz press and received NOT ONE vote in this year’s Grammy build-up. I worked closely with Paris herself, assembling an all-star aggregation of jazz talent to interpret the Abdullah Ibrahim/Boney James-inspired compositions of the reality TV star and all around credit to society. For the talented Ms. Hilton’s understanding of social issues, I’m especially proud of “I Come From Barack Obama with a Banjo On My Knee.”  It is reminiscent of Max Roach’s Freedom Suite. Accompanied by an all-star aggregation, Paris H, guest rappers Jay Z, Jazzy B and fiery jazz virtuoso sax man Kenny G deliver an astonishing piece of jazz social commentary.

The incredible handpicked lineup of jazz stars includes Herbie Hancock on clavinet, Woody Allen on clarinet and Wynton Marsalis on the internet. Possibly one of the best rhythm sections ever assembled in the history of jazz recording — George Segal on banjo, bass virtuoso Charlie Haden on banjo, Marcus Miller showing his versatility on banjo, and Diana Krall and Elvis Costello sharing drum duties — shows why jazz is still a living art form appreciated by millions all over the world.

Other guest appearances include Cuthbert Marsalis, the least known member of the jazz dynasty, probably because he is an English aristocrat who does not play any musical instruments and did not invent jazz in 1980; legendary godfather of smooth jazz and easy listening Cecil Taylor; Michael Bublé crooning the all-time favourite “I Never Heard of Mel Tormé;” and James Carter playing “Salt Peanuts.” Oops. That should read Jimmy Carter, reprising the famous White House duet with Dizzy Gillespie that defined his jazz credentials.

Some of the critical raves:

“I laughed till I cried” — Don Heckman, Los Angeles Times

“What a load of rubbish” — Nat Hentoff

“Is this man serious?”– Brick Wahl, LA Weekly

“Brilliant!!!” – Stanley Crouch New York Times

“My personal iPod favourite” — George W Bush

Please, everyone, vote for me in category 10,996 of this year’s Grammys — Best Jazz and Hip Hop Album By a Country Smooth-jazz Crossover Artist Not in the English Language. I promise not to write again until the Emmys are upon us. I will be soliciting votes for my two reality shows — Newsreading With The Stars, where professional ballroom dancers learn to play pro football and read the news, and America’s Idle, where no one has a job any more due to the bizarre global economic policies of the last 8 years.

A couple of years ago, Mr. Altman visited the west coast of the United States and performed without tongue in cheek at the helm of a big band. He is the curved soprano saxophone soloist out front in this video. The tune is “Love Is Here To Stay.” I think I glimpse Jerry Pinter and Lanny Morgan in the sax section and Andy Martin among the trombones. The others, including the man strolling through the background with a telephone to his ear, are unidentifed. How could he hear?


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  1. Brick W. says

    I submitted it as well, to Jazz Critic Critique & Criticicism Critical Endoclitic Semiotics Illustrated, but their light editing reduced it to some punctuation and the word Cuthbert. Then they had to kill it entirely, as that was already the title of an Anthony Braxton album, not to mention briefly Prince’s name. It also obviously meant something in Pashto, but now afghan completely off the deep end with the whole kit and kabul-dle. And if that wasn’t the most obscure linguistics joke I’ve ever told, I don’t know what is. So don’t even ask.

  2. says

    A talented performer and a great collection of work can often be overlooked by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Hard work is needed to get some notice and this is a step in the right direction.
    (Thank you. Your skill as a parodist is even more finely tuned than Mr. Altman’s.—DR)