The event, “An Evening of Jazz,” took place at The Village Recording Studios in West Los Angeles
To kick off GRAMMY® Week, The Recording Academy® Producers & Engineers Wing® traditionally holds an event the night before rehearsals begin, and this year was no exception. This year’s event, held on Feb. 6, 2013, at the Village Recording Studios in West Los Angeles, honored two people whose creative and engineering contributions to the music industry are among its greatest. Titled “An Evening of Jazz,” the event saw Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow bestow the prestigious President’s Merit Award on GRAMMY winners Quincy Jones and Al Schmitt. P&E Wing Senior Executive Director Maureen Droney and the Village CEO Jeff Greenberg served as the evening’s emcees.
Jones’ discography is nearly without peer in the history of the music industry and includes albums with Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Michael Jackson, Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, and Dinah Washington, among others, as well as turns as a film, TV and Broadway producer and label executive. Schmitt has engineered a decades-long string of classic recordings and hits for artists such as Natalie Cole, Cal Tjader, Ike and Tina Turner, Diana Krall, Paul McCartney, Frank Sinatra, and Barbra Streisand, among others, as well as producing albums for Jefferson Airplane, Jackson Browne, Sam Cooke, Neil Young and others. Both Jones and Schmitt continue to make meaningful new works of art. Schmitt’s recent collaborations include projects with Gloria Estefan and McCartney, a nearly finished “duets” album with Paul Anka; and a new LP he’s about to start with Robbie Williams. At the event, Jones introduced two new artists he is working with: 11-year-old piano virtuoso Emily Bear and Blush, an all-female pan-Asian group he is producing and promoting.
Presenters onstage included Portnow, as well as producer and Recording Academy Chair Emeritus Jimmy Jam along with producers/engineers Ed Cherney (a GRAMMY winner), Mike Clink and James McKinney. Among the estimated 700 attendees were Mindi Abair, GRAMMY winners Patti Austin, Anita Baker and George Benson, master bassist Nathan East, GRAMMY winner Siedah Garrett, GRAMMY nominee Ledisi, GRAMMY winners Shelby Lynne and Marcus Miller, GRAMMY winner Arturo Sandoval, GRAMMY winner will.i.am, Recording Academy Chair George J. Flanigen IV and many members of the Producers & Engineers Wing, along with artists, producers, and other prominent music industry figures.
Jones, in his acceptance speech, said, “You have blown me away tonight,” and urged music professionals to travel and experience the world, and to incorporate those experiences into their work to make music a truly global art.
Schmitt was introduced by Portnow as someone “whose character is as stellar as his engineering, and that speaks to the longevity of his career. Giving back to our community is simply part of who Al is.” Schmitt recalled how producer/engineer and P&E Wing Steering Committee member Cherney asked him to be the first to sign on to the nascent Music Producers Guild of America more than a decade ago, the organization that eventually became the foundation of today’s P&E Wing. “I was so honored that Ed would ask me to be the first,” Schmitt said.
The event covered other aspects of the P&E Wing’s mission, including advocacy for the proper crediting of recording professionals. Clink also pointed out the recent establishment of www.qualitysoundmatters.com, a joint effort by the P&E Wing and the Consumer Electronics Association to promote appreciation among consumers for higher sonic quality, and reminded the gathering of the other advocacy work that P&E Wing members have collaborated on, including appearances before sessions of Congress.
“The annual P&E Wing event continues to be the signature moment of the year for the professionals who set the stage for music artists.” said Droney. “It’s meant to honor the incredible work and talent of audio professionals and, with the launch of the new Quality Sound Matters initiative, to act as a guiding light for the direction of the quality of sound.”
Premiere sponsors of the event included Astell & Kern, Avid, DTS, HARMAN® Professional brands (AKG® Acoustics, JBL® Professional and Lexicon®), Iron Mountain Entertainment Services, Louisiana Entertainment Commission, Music Marketing, PMC Ltd., PreSonus, Shure Incorporated and Ultimate Ears by Logitech, with additional participation by a wide array of other leading audio brands.