by Rachel Swan
Many Bay Area musicians were angered by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS)' decision to cut the Grammy Awards down from 109 categories to a meager 79 — ostensibly to make them more special and rarefied. Unfortunately, the decision disproportionately affected Latin, African-American, roots, classical, and world music artists. That got a lot of people hot under the collar, including Latin Jazz pianist Mark Levine, who recently sent out a spate of e-mails announcing his decision to return a 2003 Grammy nomination and plaque, as well as a 2010 Latin Grammy nomination. "Your actions in delisting the categories that have most contributed to American music have been racist, and go against everything my parents taught me about America," Levine wrote, in an e-mail to NARAS president Neil Portnow, who has vehemently defended his decision to make the Grammy awards more narrow in scope.