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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDN_TjH9XiI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdeOmsivceU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFuJ_CcrNhA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5WgoiYptnQ Latin Grammy awards are awarded in over 48 categories. The one that get the most recognition are, of course, the popular music categories. But I always find myself scanning way down the list to find new and fascinating sounds that I would never be exposed to otherwise. This week, Rachel Martin and I explore some of the...

This week, Alt.Latino takes a literary turn as we explore the world of Latino noir. Good guys, bad guys and cops who are both; murder, intrigue and gallows humor; highly stylized writing — it's all there, as with any noir fiction. But these books and stories are written by Latinx authors. Our guide through this wonderful world of crime fiction is writer Carmen Amato. She's the author of a thrilling series featuring a detective named Emilia Cruz, the first female detective on the...

Rudy Van Gelder, an audio recording engineer who captured the sounds of many of jazz's landmark albums, died Thursday morning in his sleep. He was at his home studio in New Jersey, according to Maureen Sickler, his assistant engineer. He was 91. Van Gelder's work is heard on hundreds of albums, on record labels like Blue Note, Prestige, Savoy and Impulse, featuring the likes of Miles Davis and John Coltrane, Art Blakey and Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington and Count Basie, Sonny Rollins and...

Friday marks the official launch of the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where an array of Brazilian music is expected in the opening ceremonies. While all eyes are on Brazil for the next two weeks, we here at Alt.Latino get to share our own love affair with the country's vast musical heritage. My short conversation with David Greene on NPR's Morning Edition , at the audio link above, is just the tip of the iceberg — of both the music and our coverage. Longtime listeners...

Ralph J. Gleason is my hero. It's impossible to put an exact date on it, but I think I started reading his column in Rolling Stone in the summer of 1973. I was 14 years old and already immersed in music. Reading him, I discovered you could write about music and get paid for it — and then I discovered his writing was just as immersive as the music we both loved. This spring, Yale University press is publishing two collections of writings by Gleason (who often signed his columns as...

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page. Being in a band feels a lot like being in a relationship: Making music with another person borders on spiritual, and is one of the most intimate experiences you can share with another individual. That's precisely why the long-awaited reunion of mid-'70s-era Santana works so well on record: These musicians' chemistry is palpable,...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loT_pYzi3Vw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDDyyDjWM_0 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_Dqo--Ly3g Merle Haggard was known by his fans as "Hag." With songs that reflected the working-class values and experiences of his own early life, Haggard found an audience in folks that saw the same. The country musician died Wednesday morning in California. It was his 79th birthday. Haggard's music was drawn from a life that started in 1937 in a converted train boxcar, the...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61GULLd8Cbw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qBHLBQ-g0g http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAzjmDZD4aY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DXoGiTDavc Few of us get to witness a true historical moment — the kind that can change the world. On August 14, the moment the U.S. flag was raised over a newly opened U.S. Embassy in Cuba, Arturo O'Farrill witnessed one of those moments. The Cuban-American musician was one of a handful of invited guests who watched the dramatic flag...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYzjw5QKrxI Jazz trumpeter Clark Terry has died. The musician's ebullient personality reached a nationwide audience as a member of NBC's Tonight Show band, and the sound of his expressive trumpet inspired younger musicians for nearly eight decades. The 94-year-old musician died Saturday . Clark Terry said he heard the sound of jazz everywhere as a kid in St. Louis in the 1930s: on the radio, in parades and wafting in from river boats floating along the...

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. Scott was labeled Little Jimmy Scott by...

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