Paquito D’Rivera, nominated for three Latin Grammys this year
Photo courtesy Lane Pederson

Cuban music fared well in the competition for the 2011 Latin Grammys, as the Latin Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (LARAS) announced nominees earlier this month in 46 categories.

A dozen Cuban musicians and groups from both sides of the Strait of Florida have been chosen to compete for the awards, which will be presented November 10 in Las Vegas. High on the list is the outstanding saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera, a founder (with Chucho Valdéz) of the group Irakere who emigrated to the U.S. some years ago. Rivera caught three nominations, two for Best Latin Jazz Album and one for Best Contemporary Classical Album, for his discs Clazz: Continental Latin Jazz Live At Barcelona and Panamericana Suite.

Omara Portuondo, diva of the Buena Vista Social Club, was nominated for Best Children’s Music Album for her Reir y Cantar (Laugh and Sing), produced by the Cuban recording company Bis Music. Far from grabbing the spotlight in diva fashion, Omara collaborates with young musicians on many of the songs.

Rapper Pitbull, Adalberto Álvarez, “el caballero del son” (the gentleman of son), Albita Rodríguez, Lena Burke, and the Septet Santiaguero are other performers on the Cuban team. Producer Aureo Baquero (Best Producer of the Year) joins the list along with Alex, Jorge and Lena, and the Catalan designer Javier Mariscal (for Best Packaging Design) as director of the animated feature film Chico y Rita, along with Fernando Trueba.

Bassist Israel Cachao Lopez, who died in 2008, was honored with a nomination for his posthumous production The Last Mambo. Last year, composer Leo Brower, pianist Chucho Valdés, trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, and singer Alex Cuba won Grammys. This year, look for Team Cuba to rack up more wins.

Here’s a list of the Cuban nominees:

Album of the Year
Alex, Jorge and Lena
Alex, Jorge and Lena [Warner Music Latina]

Best Pop Album by a Duo or Vocal Group

Alex, Jorge and Lena 
Alex, Jorge and Lena [Warner Music Latina]

Best Urban Music Album 
Pitbull [Sony Music]

Best Songwriter 
Intimate Sessions
Amaury Gutiérrez [Universal Music Mexico]

Best Latin Children´s Music Album
Reir y Cantar (Laugh and Sing)
Omara Portuondo [Bis Music]

Best Latin Jazz Album
Clazz: Continental Latin Jazz. Live At Barcelona
Paquito D’Rivera & Pepe Rivero [Title Music]

Panamericana Suite
Paquito D’Rivera [MCG Jazz]

New York Is Now! / Viva el sonido cubano (Long live the Cuban Sound)
Chuchito Valdés [Piano Culture Rec]

Best Instrumental Album
Calma (Calm)
Omar Sosa [Ota Records]

Best Classical Album
Adios a Cuba (Farewell to Cuba)
Adonis González, Rey Rodríguez, producer [RRProductions]

Manuel Barrueco; Asgerdur Sigurdardottir, producer [Tonar Music]

Best Contemporary Classical Album
Panamericana Suite
Paquito D’Rivera [MCG Jazz]

Best Traditional Tropical Album
Toda una Vida (A Lifetime) (Cuban Masterworks)
Albita [Angels’ Dawn Records]

El Son De Altura
Adalberto Álvarez [Bis Music]

The Last Mambo
Cachao [Latinum / Eventus]

Oye Mi Son Santiaguero
Septet Santiaguero [Picap]

Our thanks to Cuban Art News reader A. Rios for pointing out our error in the number of nominees. —Ed.