The Latin Grammy Award bestowed on Seattle musicians Barrett Martin and Jack Endino, for work with the Brazilian legend Nando Reis, is part of a growing Seattle-and-South America musical connection.
Earlier this month two legendary figures in the Seattle music scene, Jack Endino and Barrett Martin, received international recognition when a Grammy Award was given for an album they produced. It was the first Grammy score for these two seminal Seattle musicians, both of whom were central to the creation of grunge in the nineties. Here’s the twist: it was a Latin Grammy, awarded to an album by Brazilian artist Nando Reis. Rather than an anomaly, the award highlights what’s become an increasing connection between Seattle music and South America.
The album is “Jardim-Pomar” by Brazilian singer-songwriter Nando Reis. At the Nov. 16 Latin Grammy Awards, the album won “Best Portuguese Language Rock or Alternative Album.” The album has earned rave reviews around the world, and brought attention to the Seattle-Brazil connection.
Not only did Endino and Martin both do production on the record (each had worked with Reis previously on other projects), but the list of contributing musicians reads like a who’s who of Seattle rock: Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready adds guitar, R.E.M.’s Peter Buck plays guitar, Skerik plays a number of instruments, composer Andrew Joslyn helped with arrangements, former Seattleite Alex Veley is the keyboard player, and the album was also mastered and mixed by Seattle musicians.
“There are more Seattle musicians on this record,” Martin says, “than there are on most albums by Seattle rock bands. It literally is a hybrid of Seattle and Brazil.”
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For Martin and Endino, the recognition is what they “think” is their first Grammy win, after decades of being involved in seminal influential albums, mostly by Seattle grunge bands. Endino, who produced Nirvana, Soundgarden and essentially invented the sound of early Sub Pop, has worked on so many albums that he isn’t exactly sure if something he worked on won previously, but probably not “as far as I know,” he says with a laugh. “I haven’t paid very close attention.”
Martin says almost the same thing. He’s been a drummer in a dozen bands, most notably the Screaming Trees, and he’s produced many albums and even run his own label. But he too is unsure if he’s been nominated before: “I played on so many records with other bands, R.E.M., Queens of the Stone Age, and on and on, and I’m not sure if any of those projects were nominated.
“It really was special to win this, though,” Martin adds. “You work your whole life on some magnificent records, but this is a really great artistic record, and it feels good to get it attention.”
It’s recognition that some in Seattle say is overdue. “Jack Endino and Barrett Martin are Seattle music legends, and are truly deserving of this recognition with this Latin Grammy,” says Kate Becker, director of Seattle’s Office of Film & Music. “They continue to impact rock culture, both locally and around the world.”
The Grammy attention for Reis’ album caps a storied career for the singer-songwriter in Brazil, but one that has had a strong Seattle connection. Endino produced several albums for Reis’ former bands, some of which went gold.
“I’ve been making records for Brazilians since 1993,” Endino says. Endino is on his way to Chile for a session this month.
“My South American thing is a whole different animal from the U.S. noise I am known for,” Endino says. “I’m secretly a pop guy, you see. Never mind that doing records in Portuguese in Brazil, I might as well be doing records on Pluto as far as many North Americans are concerned.”
Endino is correct that the Seattle-Brazil connection is a bit of a secret here, but the mutual love is strong. Seattle pianist Jovino Santos Neto has been nominated for three Latin Grammy Awards, and has recorded in both the U.S. and Brazil.
“Jack and Barrett are really celebrities in Brazil,” Santos Neto says. “And we also are now getting more Brazilian bands touring up here.”
What is also notable, Barrett Martin points out, is how South America has become one of the strongest markets for U.S. rock, and particularly for Seattle bands. “It’s amazing how big Seattle rock is there,” Martin notes. Bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden played to stadiums, while Pearl Jam will headline the 2018 Lollapalooza concerts in Brazil, Chile, and Argentina.
Endino chuckles when he says that after all the work he’s done with Seattle bands, with groups like Nirvana, that changed music culture around the world, his album with Reis delivered his first Grammy. “I guess I can now say ‘Grammy-winning record producer,’” he says. “That it’s a Latin Grammy is rich with irony.”
Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Alex Veley’s last name.