L.A. Newsbriefs

  Alumni gathered on June 30 for a reception in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Front row, from the left): Eric Lagrimas '98, Ambrose Splescia '78, Gloria Metzger Gordon '81, and Peter Gordon '78. (Second row, from the left): Will Lydgate '07, Professor Stephen Webber, Charlie Longhi '87, and Shawn Moseley '97.


Since the Jay Leno era began in 1992, the house band on NBC's Tonight Show has always had a distinct Berklee flavor. The first band, led by Branford Marsalis '80 on sax, included Jeff "Tain" Watts '81 on drums and Kevin Eubanks '79 on guitar. When Marsalis left, Eubanks stepped into the role of bandleader and brought in Marvin "Smitty" Smith '81 on drums, Ralph Moore '78 on tenor sax, and Gerry Etkins '76 on keyboards.

In May 2010, after 18 years, Eubanks left the show. And since that time, a new band has been introduced under the leadership of renowned music director and bassist Rickey Minor. In this latest incarnation of the Tonight Show Band, Berklee is once again well represented by alumni Ray Monteiro '03 on trumpet, Miguel Gandelman '04 on tenor sax, David Delhomme '89 on keyboards, and the team's music production manager and engineer Lenny Wee '08, who adds his magic behind the scenes.

Monteiro and Gandelman comprise a horn section known simply as "the Horns," which has been together since 2003. Prior to joining the Tonight Show Band, the section performed with some of the biggest names in the music business, including Christina Aguilera, Prince, the Jonas Brothers, Stevie Wonder, Sting, James Brown, the Black Eyed Peas, Earth, Wind &Fire, James Taylor, Babyface, John Mayer '96, Jennifer Hudson, Patti LaBelle, Aretha Franklin, and Shakira.

Alumni figured prominently in the recent 2010 Emmy Awards. Pablo Munguia '97 won for his playback mixing on The 52nd Annual Grammy Awards show, which was his second Emmy win. He was also nominated for his work on The 82nd Annual Academy Awards show. Brian Riordan '95 won for his work as the re-recording mixer on The 25th Anniversary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Concert. He also received two nominations for his pre-production mixing on American Idol and another for his work on The 82nd Annual Academy Awards telecast.

This year, Berklee alumni received a total of 11 Emmy nominations.

Other nominees included recording mixer Elmo Ponsdomenech '83 (Dexter), composers Brad Hatfield '75 (Rescue Me), Ramin Djawadi '98 (Flash Forward), Lawrence Shragge '77 (When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story, a Hallmark Hall of Fame feature), and Geoff Zanelli '96 (The Pacific).

The 12 Latin Grammy nominations garnered by six alumni reflect Berklee's impact on the global music scene. Juan Luis Guerra '83 received four nominations in the Album of the Year, Best Tropical Album, Best Tropical Song, and Best Short Form Music Video categories. Guerra has previously won nine Latin Grammy Awards and two Grammys.

Tommy Torres '93 received three Latin Grammy nominations, two as producer and co-engineer in the Album of the Year and Record of the Year categories. His third nomination is in the Song of the Year category.

Engineer Benny Faccone '78, who already has both Grammy and Latin Grammy wins to his credit, is nominated in the Record of the Year and Album of the Year categories.

Engineer Gael Hedding '05 received his first Latin Grammy nomination for Best Tango Album.

Mastering engineer Gavin Lurssen '91, who is already a three-time Grammy winner, received his first Latin Grammy nomination in the Best Engineered Album category.

On the film front, Michael Semanick '85 served as the re-recording mixer on The Social Network, a drama that recounts the founding of Facebook. Semanick, who won multiple Oscars for his work on the Lord of Rings trilogy, also has Toy Story 3 and Alice in Wonderland on his 2010 credit list.

Producer Aris Archontis '02 keeps a busy schedule in his state-of the-art home studio in the San Fernando Valley. He writes and produces for Disney and Hollywood Records, and his recent credits include tracks for Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Bridgit Mendler, Jordan Pruitt, Emily Osment, Selena Gomez, and the Jonas Brothers. He and his team wrote and produced three TV theme songs and two tracks that will appear in the new season of Hannah Montana Forever.

Producer and composer Mike Baiardi '96 recently finished an ad campaign for Nike with longtime collaborator the RZA (Wu-Tang Clan). The RZA brought him in to produce the music for the spots and to add additional guitar, bass, synth, and drums. The commercials feature RZA in the studio remixing songs for each of Nike's five top extreme sports celebrities (visit www.nike.com/nikeos/p/nke6/en_US/video_wall#).

If you enjoy excellent jazz piano trios, check out the latest CD from Cengiz Yaltkaya '76 entitled a.k. steps out. His trio performs locally in Los Angeles and completed a tour of Turkey earlier this year. For more, visit www.jazzkaya.com.

That's all for now. Stay in touch,

Peter Gordon '78
Director of Berklee Center in LA