Scouring For New Music With 'Alt.Latino'

Aug 20, 2017
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(SOUNDBITE OF MANUEL GARCIA-OROZCO AND MAYTE MONTERO SONG, "OYE MI MAMA (AFROBEAT) [FEAT. AIFF])

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Speaking Spanish).

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

(Trilling) I'm already dancing. We're about to raise our heart rates for just a minute - mine is already there - just in time for our monthly check-in with Felix Contreras and Alt.Latino. Good morning. That makes me so happy to hear that sound. I can't even tell you.

FELIX CONTRERAS, BYLINE: Oh, good morning. Me, too, man.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, you went on one of your journeys. You scoured the globe for new music, and you ventured deep into the wilds of New York City.

(LAUGHTER)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK. Tell us why we're there.

CONTRERAS: OK. So every year, there's the Latin Alternative Music Conference. And it's a great opportunity - it's a networking opportunity for business types, for journalists but also for musicians 'cause people come from all over - from the United States and from Latin America - to come and network. And what I do is I set up a table. And I say, bring me your stuff. Everybody, bring me your stuff.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Ah, bring me your stuff. I like it.

CONTRERAS: And that's how I - that's my version of music discovery.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So I'm assuming that the music we just heard was something that you discovered there.

CONTRERAS: This is a great album. It's called "Petronica." Now, it's reimagined music from Petrona Martinez. Now, she's an iconic folk singer from Colombia. To get the full flavor, let's here a little bit of what she sounds like in her original form.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MI MAMA QUE ME PARIO (BULLERENGUE CHALUPIAO)")

PETRONA MARTINEZ: (Singing in Spanish).

CONTRERAS: Very rural.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah.

CONTRERAS: Very, very folk. Now check out the work of producers Manuel Garcia-Orozco and Mayte Montero.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OYE MI MAMA (AFROBEAT) [FEAT. AIFF]")

MARTINEZ: (Singing in Spanish).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah, all right.

CONTRERAS: Right?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah, I totally dig it - you know, boppy (ph).

CONTRERAS: It's part of the movement of what a lot of these young kids...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The young kids?

CONTRERAS: These young people.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I like the - you can't see this.

CONTRERAS: (Laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But he just did the old guy sign of, like, in quotation marks - the "young kids," quotation marks.

CONTRERAS: (Laughter) But they're doing really fantastic things with this found music. And so they bring another light to somebody who deserves a lot of recognition. That's Petrona Martinez. The album's called "Petronica." Get it? Electronica, "Petronica."

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah, "Petronica."

All right. OK. What's next?

CONTRERAS: OK. We're going to slow it down quite a bit for the Sunday morning coffee and chill. This is another artist that I met while I was there at the LAMC. This is Luz Pinos, and she's from Ecuador.

(SOUNDBITE OF LUZ PINOS' "MOZO")

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah.

CONTRERAS: Kind of Cubist piano intro.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MOZO")

LUZ PINOS: (Singing in Spanish).

CONTRERAS: She studied jazz vocals here in the U.S. She's from Ecuador. And the album is called "Mariposa Azul." This track is called "Mozo." And the entire album is a gorgeous mashup of folk music and jazz and her fantastic vocals.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What kind of countries were represented at this conference?

CONTRERAS: They come from all over - Chile, Ecuador - I mean, you name it - Mexico.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So you weren't exactly being honest when you said you went to New York City. You kind of did go global. You know, they came to you.

CONTRERAS: I did go global by sitting right there at the LAMC...

(LAUGHTER)

CONTRERAS: ...Exhibition center. Yeah, it really is a lot of fun. And after 18 years, it's got a reputation for people who come to market themselves.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. What else did you find?

CONTRERAS: OK. Now we just heard from Costa Rica. Now we're going to go to Spain - but not in the way that you'd normally expect. Check this one out.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JUST")

NORA NORMAN: (Singing) I've been looking for the love, putting my hand on the fire.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Ah, yeah. That does not sound like Spanish music (laughter).

CONTRERAS: Right? Nora Nor-mahn (ph) or Nora Norman had our producers in the booth dancing around as well - killer soul singer from Spain. And she's just immersed in R&B and soul music from the United States. And she has this voice that's just, you know, naturally perfect for that.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JUST")

NORMAN: (Singing) I'm erasing everything I've been writing so far. I'm about to pick a path I always refused to walk. Is this just the way that I can have you?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, what else have you got in the category of mellow discoveries?

CONTRERAS: OK, a Chileno, from Chile, by way of New York City - his name Zeo Munoz.

(SOUNDBITE OF ZEO MUNOZ SONG, "LAS VICTIMAS")

CONTRERAS: What stood out to me is the lovely muted trumpet at the beginning that sort of reminded me of Miles Davis.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LAS VICTIMAS")

ZEO MUNOZ: (Singing in Spanish).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Que romantico. So romantic. It makes you want to get into a hammock and just like - with a mimosa and - in fact, that's where I'm going right now.

(LAUGHTER)

CONTRERAS: We need a camera in the studio 'cause the faces you make sometimes when we play this stuff and you hear it for the first time. This guy - he was a rocker, a hard rocker.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Really?

CONTRERAS: Yeah, he was a hard rocker, and he started doing stuff on his own. And the entire album - it is a mix of this really nice romantic guitar with trumpet stuff. It's really a surprising turn for him, but I really liked it. Zeo Munoz is his name.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And perfect Sunday morning music. Felix is the host of Alt.Latino, NPR Music's weekly podcast of Latino arts and culture. Thank you so much.

CONTRERAS: Thank you, as always.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LAS VICTIMAS")

MUNOZ: (Singing in Spanish). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.