Latin jazz stars sue Grammys over category elimination


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An attempt by the Grammy Awards to simplify its annual prize-giving extravaganza by cutting down the number of eligible categories has hit unexpected legal complications – a group of Latin jazz artists, who have seen their own section eliminated, has filed a suit claiming the change will cause them irreparable damage.

Papers filed in a New York court this week alleged the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences acted illegally when it announced it was dropping 31 categories, bringing the total down from 109 to 78. Anyone belonging to specialist fields being eliminated must now compete in broader categories.

The move has come in for criticism from some high-profile legends, including Paul Simon who said it was "a disservice to many talented musicians".

The complaint – filed by musicians Bobby Sanabria, Benjamin Lapidus, Mark Levine and Eugene Marlow – is driven by the truism that nothing generates record and concert sales like being able to attach "Grammy-winner" or "Grammy-nominated" to your name.

"Our concern is by lumping several categories together, it makes it much easier for larger record labels and those artists who have already gained recognition to dominate," their lawyer, Robert Maldonado, told the Associated Press.

The organisers of the show say they are unimpressed by the legal assault, saying: "The Recording Academy believes this frivolous lawsuit is without merit, and we fully expect to prevail."