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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5:30pm

Fri June 13, 2014
A Blog Supreme

Ethereal Jazz Singer Jimmy Scott Dies

Originally published on Sat June 14, 2014 1:59 pm

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

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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3:08pm

Thu May 1, 2014
A Blog Supreme

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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10:42am

Sat September 14, 2013
Tiny Desk Concerts

Arturo O'Farrill: Tiny Desk Concert

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 6:10 pm

The Arturo O'Farrill Octect performs a Tiny Desk Concert in June 2013.
Hayley Bartels Hayley Bartels/NPR

Latin jazz works best when the musicians involved are as fluent in Afro-Cuban rhythms as they are in the deep grooves and advanced harmonics of bebop. Arturo O'Farrill has that pedigree in his DNA: His father, Chico O'Farrill, was part of a groundbreaking group of musicians who created the mash-up of Afro-Cuban music and jazz back in late-'40s New York.

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7:04am

Wed August 21, 2013
The Record

Marian McPartland, 'Piano Jazz' Host, Has Died

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

Marian McPartland.
Courtesy of the artist

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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5:30pm

Mon July 29, 2013
A Blog Supreme

'A Walking Encyclopedia Of Rhythms': Remembering Steve Berrios

Originally published on Wed July 31, 2013 4:20 pm

Steve Berrios performs with the Fort Apache Band in New York City earlier in 2013.
Andrea Zapata-Girau Courtesy of Jerry Gonzalez

It is not easy to play both jazz drum set and Afro-Caribbean percussion. Lots of drummers do it, but few have mastered it in a way that makes their sound in either style unmistakable from the first beat.

The music community lost one of those true innovators Wednesday with the death of percussionist Steve Berrios in New York at age 68. Berrios could move seamlessly from jazz to Afro-Cuban rhythms in a way that perfectly reflected his bicultural roots.

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5:25pm

Mon April 22, 2013
Tiny Desk Concerts

Omar Sosa & Paolo Fresu: Tiny Desk Concert

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 6:35 pm

Lizzie Chen NPR

You don't really listen to an Omar Sosa concert so much as experience it. The Cuban-born pianist's overall demeanor exudes a sense of calm and deep reflection, while a spiritual connection to music and his ancestors comes through in his piano playing.

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12:55pm

Sat April 20, 2013
A Blog Supreme

Tito Puente: 90 Years Of Getting People To Dance

Originally published on Sat April 20, 2013 7:38 pm

Tito Puente on vibraphone at the Palladium.
Courtesy of the artist

The percussionist and bandleader Tito Puente would have celebrated his 90th birthday this weekend on April 20. And the recently released box set Quatro: The Definitive Collection is a great place to start celebrating the once and forever King of Latin Music. It captures the driving sound of big band mambo and cha-cha-cha that launched people onto dance floors for decades.

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12:02pm

Thu January 10, 2013
Alt.Latino

Cooking Tamales For The Beatles: Guest DJ Sandra Cisneros

Originally published on Mon June 17, 2013 11:04 am

Author Sandra Cisneros.
Jessica Fuentes Jessica Fuentes

2:52pm

Fri November 16, 2012
The Record

Jesse & Joy, Juanes Win Big At Latin Grammys

Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 4:31 pm

Jesse & Joy accept one of their four awards during the Latin Grammy Awards in Las Vegas on Thursday.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Click the audio link to hear Alt.Latino's Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd discuss the Latin Grammy Awards with Tell Me More's Michel Martin.

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10:23am

Mon August 27, 2012
Tiny Desk Concerts

Renaud Garcia-Fons: Tiny Desk Concert

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 10:06 am

Renaud Garcia Fons performs a Tiny Desk Concert at the NPR Music offices.
Michael Katzif NPR

Double bassist Renaud Garcia-Fons was destined to create music that spans genres and borders: He was born in France to a family with roots in the Catalonia region of Spain, and he's fluent in French, Spanish and English. Classical, jazz and flamenco represent equal parts of his musical DNA, and his technique reflects the delicate arco stylings of concert halls, the deep groove of jazz and the raw vitality of flamenco.

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