Humber music professor nominated for a Grammy Award

Nov 30, 2023 | Arts, Campus News, Culture

Humber music professor Hilario Duran was nominated for a 2024 Grammy for Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella for his song I Remember Mingus.

Duran, a Cuban musician who specializes in Latin music, has two Junos under his belt and was previously named Latin Jazz Artist of the Year by the Canadian National Jazz Awards.

He told Humber News that he was shocked by his Grammy nomination as arranger of I Remember Mingus by Hilario Duran And His Latin Jazz Big Band featuring Paquito D’Rivera. The band includes several Humber music professors.

“Can you imagine, for me?” he asked. “It was so crazy. I wasn’t hoping to get an award, but it is so important to me because this song is a tribute to one of the musicians that I most admire in my life, Charles Mingus.

“Me being a Cuban, writing a tribute to one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century,” Duran said. “I am extremely happy because of this.”

Duran said he is fascinated by the way Mingus, who died in 1979, composed music and his ability to improvise and interact with musicians.

“For me, composing is always fun. I just imagine what I would write, you know, like colours,” Duran said.

The live version of “I Remember Mingus” showcased the horn section of a jazz band with trumpets and saxophones, highlighting Duran’s appreciation of jazz.

“I am so privileged that I got all these great musicians on first call,” Duran said. “I am so blessed, so privileged to have this orchestra working for me. They’re great and they immediately got the intention and the sense of what I was writing.”

I Remember Mingus is one of nine songs on the album Cry Me A River. Duran said the album’s first track, Paca Por Juanito, is a rhythm created by guitarist and musical director Juanito Marquez.

Marquez mixed South American and Cuban rhythms to create a sound popular in the ’60s and ’70s.

Duran continues to work as a professor at Humber College’s Lakeshore campus while still making music. When his colleagues and students heard about his Grammy nomination, he was greeted with congratulations by all of them.

“I’ll be walking in the halls [everybody] saying to me, congratulations,” Duran said. “My students, they are so sweet. This is a happy time for me.”

The 2024 Grammy Award show will be live in Los Angeles on Feb. 4, 2024.