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Alejandro Sanz Scores at Latin Grammys

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    Carlos Vives was the big story before the Latin Grammys, but Alejandro Sanz was the one everyone was talking about afterward.

    Sanz swept the major categories at Wednesday night’s ceremony, taking album, song, and record of the year honors. The Spanish singer, who was nominated for four awards, won album of the year for “MTV Unplugged” and record and song of the year for “Y Solo Se Me Ocurre Amarte.”

    Vives, who came into the competition with a leading six nominations, went home with two awards. The Colombian singer was honored for best contemporary tropical album for “Dejame Entrar,” which also earned him a Grammy in February, and best tropical song — a songwriters’ award that he shared for the album’s title track.

    Sanz’s haul now includes seven Latin Grammys in two years. Last year, Sanz’s song and album “El Alma Al Aire” earned him four Latin Grammys — record, album and song of the year, plus best male pop vocal album.

    “It embarrasses me principally because all of the artists who are here deserve it as much as I do,” he said backstage in Spanish. Then he added in English, hesitantly, “Two years in a row is too much.”

    Mexico’s Ramon Ayala y Sus Bravos del Norte were honored in both categories in which they were nominated, best norteno album for “El Numero Cien” and best regional Mexican song for “Del Otro Lado Del Porton.”

    Much of the attention before the ceremony centered on Cuba. Its 22 nominees, including jazz pianist Chucho Valdes, couldn’t get entry visas in time to attend. As a result, Valdes wasn’t there to accept his award for best pop instrumental album for “Canciones Ineditas” — his first Grammy after decades in the business…

Jan Herman did an excellent job on the Valdes story:

    How vindictive can the Bush Administration get toward Cuba? Consider this: The State Department has denied entry visas to Cuban Latin Grammy nominee Chucho Valdés and 21 others, so they won’t be able to attend tonight’s televised Latin Grammys ceremony.
    In my book, Valdés just happens to be
    the jazz world’s greatest living piano virtuoso. Considering the range, technique and sheer brilliance of his sound, he’s Art Tatum, Keith Jarret, Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner, Cecil Taylor, Erroll Garner and Vladimir Horowitz all rolled into one — with an irrepressible Afro-Cuban soul and a cheeky sense of humor.
    Can refusing him a visa be anything other than the Bush Administration’s vindictiveness toward Cuba? It was OK for Valdés to be in this country as recently as earlier this summer, where I caught him in a mesmerizing performance at the Blue Note in New York. But it’s not OK for him to attend the Latin Grammy Awards? Sheeesh.
    And now I’m wondering whether he’ll be let back into the country for his U.S. tour dates.
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