Felix Contreras

Felix Contreras is co-host of Alt.Latino, NPR's web-based program about Latin Alternative music and Latino culture. It features music as well as interviews with many of the most well-known Latino musicians, actors, film makers and writers.

Previously, Contreras was a producer and reporter for NPR's Arts Desk and covered, among other stories and projects: a series reported from Mexico introducing the then-new musical movement called Latin Alternative; a series of stories on the financial challenges facing aging jazz musicians; and helped produce NPR's award winning series 50 Great Voices.

He once stood on the stage of the legendary jazz club The Village Vanguard after interviewing the club's owner and swears he felt the spirits of Coltrane and Monk walking through the room.

Contreras is a recovering television journalist who has worked for both NBC and Univision. He's also a part-time musician who plays Afro-Cuban percussion with various jazz and Latin bands.

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First Listen
9:03 pm
Sun July 20, 2014

First Listen: Quetzal, 'Quetzanimales'

Quetzal's new album, Quetzanimales, comes out July 29.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 12:10 pm

Twenty years is a long time in the life of a band. In the case of Quetzal, its two decades have been spent playing the soundtrack of its East L.A. neighborhoods: an evolving mash-up of Mexican son jarocho, low-rider oldies, cumbia, boleros, rock and blues.

Many Angelenos consider Quetzal as much as an institution as its East L.A. brethren in Los Lobos. Much of the current revival of son jarocho can be traced to Quetzal's history of playing the music when few others bothered.

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Alt.Latino
11:18 am
Thu June 26, 2014

A New World Of Expression: Latino Identity Through Music

Alt.Latino's hosts love Ceci Bastida's Cuando Te Tenga.
Courtesy of the artist

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Alt.Latino
11:33 am
Thu June 19, 2014

Guest DJ With Adrian Quesada, A Man Who Needs Four Bands

Adrian Quesada of Ocote Soul Sounds, Brownout Presents Brown Sabbath, The Echocentrics, and Spanish Gold.
Courtesy of the artist

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First Listen
9:24 pm
Sun June 15, 2014

First Listen: Rolê, 'New Sounds Of Brazil'

Lucas Santtana appears on the new compilation Rolê: New Sounds Of Brazil, out June 24.
Cristiano Caniche Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 8:30 am

This is not your parents' Brazilian music.

This is the Brazil where samba, bossa nova and Musica Popular Brasileira meet hip-hop, rock, jazz and electronica. Underneath all the contemporary mash ups is the DNA that makes Brazilian music some of the most vibrant on the planet: Interlocking rhythms that go right to the hips; melodies that never seem to veer into the somber minor keys; and drums of all shapes and sizes.

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First Listen
9:03 pm
Sun June 15, 2014

First Listen: Brownout, 'Brownout Presents Brown Sabbath'

Brownout's new album, Brownout Presents Brown Sabbath, comes out June 24.
Courtney Chavanell Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 8:31 am

One of my first album purchases ever was Black Sabbath's Masters of Reality in 1971. I actually took it back to my local Tower Records where I bought it because it sounded like there was something wrong with the sound. The guitars, I told them, they sound muffled and fuzzy.

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A Blog Supreme
3:11 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Ethereal Jazz Singer Jimmy Scott Dies

Jimmy Scott performs at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 2001.
Leon Morris Redferns

Originally published on Sat June 14, 2014 11:59 am

Singer Jimmy Scott died of natural causes Thursday morning at his home in Las Vegas at age 88, according to his booking agent, Jean-Pierre Leduc.

Scott suffered from Kallmann's syndrome, a lifelong affliction that prevented his body from maturing through puberty. The condition slowed his growth, leaving his stature at 4 feet 11 inches until his late 30s. It also affected his vocal cords, giving him a high voice that was often misidentified as a woman's.

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First Listen
9:03 pm
Sun May 11, 2014

First Listen: Pasatono Orquesta, 'Maroma'

Pasatono Orquesta's new album, Maroma, comes out on May 20.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 10:55 am

They had me at "vintage Mexican circus music." Maroma, the new album by the roots band Pasotono Orquesta, is dedicated to music of the one-man circuses — known as maroma — that traveled in rural Mexico during the late 19th century. The big-tent circuses, or carpas, were pared down to a single clown who had to tell jokes, juggle, perform light acrobatics and even recite poetry.

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All Songs Considered
1:20 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

The Grateful Dead's Ultimate 'Dark Star' To Be Reissued

John Oswald's Grayfolded, an epic version of the Grateful Dead's song "Dark Star," is getting a reissue on three LPs.
Courtesy of the artist

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A Blog Supreme
1:08 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

Remembering Armando Peraza, An Afro-Cuban Percussion Giant

It's hard to imagine a musical career that included musicians as varied as Charlie Parker, Peggy Lee, George Shearing and Carlos Santana. But such was hand percussionist Armando Peraza's resumé after almost 70 years making music.

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First Listen
9:03 pm
Sun April 27, 2014

First Listen: Arturo O'Farrill & The Afro Latin Orchestra, 'The Offense Of The Drum'

Arturo O'Farrill and The Afro Latin Orchestra's new album, The Offense of the Drum, comes out May 6.
Rebecca Meek Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon April 28, 2014 2:14 pm

The Offense of the Drum is one of those moments when the course of music with a long tradition is altered slightly — when music moves forward in a subtle and graceful way that's likely to have a lasting impact.

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