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.

A Blog Supreme
5:30 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 1:59 pm

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
3:54 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

First Listen: Meridian Brothers, 'Salvadora Robot'

Meridian Brothers' new album, Salvadora Robot, comes out June 16.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue June 17, 2014 12:34 pm

It takes just two words to sum up Salvadora Robot, the new album by the Colombian band Meridian Brothers: "happy weirdness."

Last year's release of the anthology Devocion: (Works 2005-2011) introduced the quirky group to audiences beyond avant-garde circles in Bogota, and Salvadora Robot reiterates that these free thinkers don't merely throw out tradition. They make it sound, well, weird.

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First Listen
4:59 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

First Listen: Pacifika, 'Amor Planeta'

Pacifika's new album, Amor Planeta, comes out May 6.
JP Carousel Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon June 2, 2014 3:20 pm

The music of Pacifika draws you in almost immediately: The Vancouver trio's musicianship is superb, buoyed by a voice that stopped me in my tracks the first time I heard it. Pacifika's sound has been labeled as world fusion, but that label is more of a restriction than a description. The group's acoustic base and subtle electronic flourishes provided a great way to start its musical journey, but Amor Planeta raises the stakes with an electric-guitar bite that adds a crucial dimension.

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The Record
7:38 am
Wed August 21, 2013

Marian McPartland, 'Piano Jazz' Host, Has Died

Marian McPartland.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 4:23 pm

Marian McPartland, who gave the world an intimate, insider's perspective on one of the most elusive topics in music — jazz improvisation — died of natural causes Tuesday night at her home in Long Island, N.Y. She was 95.

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Music
3:06 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Of Ingenuity And Insane Clown Posse: 5 Books On Music For What's Left Of Summer

cover for Dinner With Lenny
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 7:58 am

It's already August 8, which means you've got maybe three or four weeks left to complain about preseason football, inadequately shield yourself from the scorching heat of the sun, and communicate with your kids about something other than why they haven't done their homework. So why not get cracking on a book?

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Music
4:37 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

A Kind Of Magic: New Latin Music, Sprinkled With Discovery Dust

Puerto Rican singer Raquel Sofia.
Courtesy of The Black Key Group

Originally published on Mon June 17, 2013 11:00 am

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Music
8:22 pm
Tue January 1, 2013

First Listen: Original Soundtrack, 'Hecho En Mexico'

Ranchera singer Lila Downs appears on the Hecho En Mexico soundtrack.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon January 14, 2013 12:08 pm

Audio for this feature is no longer available.

The soundtrack to the documentary film Hecho En Mexico is ambitious and complicated, but the music more than justifies the journey.

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Literature
4:43 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Staff Picks: Our Favorite Music Books Of 2012

Nishant Choksi

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 11:55 am

In 2012, writers who tackled musical topics dove deep, got weird, burrowed into a niche; we joyfully followed them to depths we never would have expected when the year began. We devoured works of criticism, history, biography and the Zen of John Cage and Tony Bennett.

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Music
2:39 pm
Sun December 9, 2012

How The Wolf Survived: 40 Years Of Los Lobos

Los Lobos.
Drew Reynolds

Originally published on Mon June 17, 2013 11:21 am

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Music
4:00 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

First Listen: Bomba Estéreo, 'Elegancia Tropical'

Bomba Estéreo's new album, Elegancia Tropical, comes out Nov. 6.
Rafael Piñeros, Mulato Films Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 11:30 am

Audio for this feature is no longer available.

Many musicians say that the second album is harder to write than the first, especially when a debut is successful: There's more pressure, higher stakes, fewer ways to surprise and less time to work. The Colombian band Bomba Estéreo faced down that imposing empty canvas when it entered the studio to record a followup to 2009's hit Blow Up.

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