How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

What does a Latin jazz protest sound like?

What does it sound like when some of Los Angeles' best-known Latin jazz musicians, upset over plans to exclude their category from the Grammy Awards, pick up their instruments to stage a musical protest? For starters, expect a nice horn rendition of "Sabor a Mí."

About a dozen protesters, led by the veteran bandleader and percussionist Bobby Matos, picketed yesterday with their instruments outside the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, where members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences were holding a meeting. The musicians are protesting the recording academy’s plan to eliminate Latin jazz from the annual awards contest, along with 30 other categories.

Here's what Matos said to KPCC's Corey Moore:

“We’re about diversity. This country is about diversity. We are not all one race. We are not all from England. We’re from every part of the world. And yes, a lot of this music was created by immigrants but we’re all the children of immigrants and diversity is what’s important here and should be reflected," he said.

The musicans' goal is to reinstate Latin jazz and other categories that stand to be cut, like gospel and blues. What exactly is Latin jazz? Wikipedia defines it as "the general term given jazz with Latin American rhythms," whose three main categories are Brazilian, Cuban and Puerto Rican.

For anyone who grew up with traditional Caribbean Latin American music, as I did, the sounds of Latin jazz are unmistakably familiar, as are many of the compositions interpreted by Latin jazz musicians. You can sample more it here.

blog comments powered by Disqus