Melissa "Mimi" Merli answers questions about the Grammys, Irving Azoff and the Ginnys.
1. Did Champaign native Kim Richmond win a Grammy last week for best instrumental arrangement?
No, but he's not bitter.
"All of the competition was very good quality. Anyone who was nominated could have won and deserved it," he told me.
The 1958 Champaign High School alum had been nominated for best instrumental arrangement for his Concert Jazz Orchestra's track "Invitation" on the CD "Artistry A Tribute to Stan Kenton." The winner: "On Green Dolphin Street" arranged by Gordon Goodwin, performed by Goodwin's Big Phat Band.
Richmond had three prior Grammy nominations: two for albums of his own; the other for one he produced.
The jazz musician, composer and arranger, who plays alto sax primarily, lives in L.A. and does music for movies, television and nightclub singers.
2. Speaking of the music biz, whatever happened to Irving Azoff?
The rock mogul from Danville is still rolling, big time. This past September he and Madison Square Garden Co. formed Azoff MSG Entertainment. He's its CEO and chairman; the company is involved in all aspects of the industry.
Before that Azoff was CEO of Ticketmaster and then Live Nation. His other accomplishments are almost too numerous to mention — suffice it to say The Wall Street Journal says his name is synonymous with the entertainment industry.
Azoff got his start as a University of Illinois student managing local acts, among them Dan Fogelberg and REO Speedwagon. After dropping out of college, he went on to handle mega-acts such as Christina Aguilera, Jackson Browne, Neil Diamond, The Eagles, Guns N' Roses, Heart, Jewel, Journey, New Kids on the Block and Stevie Nicks. He's also dabbled in movies, producing "Urban Cowboy," "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" and "The Hurricane." The 66-year-old is on Twitter at @irvingazoff.
3. Who were the big winners of the Champaign Urbana Theatre Company's Ginny Awards last week?
No surprise: "Les Miserables". It swept the awards: best actor for Timothy Renner, who played Javert; best actress for Caitlin Caruso-Dobbs as Cosette; best supporting actor for Eddie Brennon, Enjolras; best supporting actress for Marah Sotelo, Eponine; and best up-and-coming actress for Ruth Zielke, Gavroche. The epic musical also won four Ginny awards for best comedic, dance, dramatic and musical moment.
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