Sunday Morning Alt.Latino Serenade: Four Tracks For Your Weekend

Oct 22, 2017
Originally published on October 30, 2017 10:04 am

Once a month, Alt.Latino visits Weekend Edition Sunday to spread good cheer and cool Sunday morning music amidst the news of the day.

This month another four tracks from four very creative groups and musicians who are redefining the idea of Latin music.


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DIANA GAMEROS: (Singing in Spanish).


We are listening to - well, I wish I could tell you what we're listening to. I don't know who it is because for this visit with Alt.Latino, Felix Contreras gave me some music. He didn't give me any information about it, and he asked me to pick the songs that I liked best. This is one that I picked.


GAMEROS: (Singing in Spanish).

BLOCK: And Felix joins me now to tell me what I chose. Felix, welcome back.

FELIX CONTRERAS, BYLINE: Thank you. Good morning.

BLOCK: OK. Who are we listening to? Who's this beautiful voice?

CONTRERAS: OK. This is Diana Gameros. She's from the Bay Area. She has a Mexican root, and she's got this great new album out of classic Mexican folk songs. And the entire record is drop-dead gorgeous.

BLOCK: And she hits a high note in here that is just beautiful.


GAMEROS: (Singing in Spanish).

CONTRERAS: Her voice just really knocked me out. It was so simple but so strong, and you're right. She has a range that sits in the middle, but then, she does peak at these things. And it just tugs at your emotions just the right way.

BLOCK: OK. Change of pace. Here's song number two.

CONTRERAS: Oh, my gosh.


DIANA TRUJILLO: (Singing) Hey.

BLOCK: Just a little bit different vibe here, Felix...

CONTRERAS: (Laughter).


TRUJILLO: (Singing in Spanish). Ay.

BLOCK: Ay. I just love the contrast...

CONTRERAS: (Laughter).

BLOCK: ...Whoever it is - listening to.

CONTRERAS: OK. This is a band called La Misa Negra. It's killer neo-cumbia (ph) from Oakland, Calif...

BLOCK: Wait, killer neo-cumbia?

CONTRERAS: Killer neo-cumbia...


CONTRERAS: Neo-cumbia...

BLOCK: That's a new genre.

CONTRERAS: OK. You know, cumbia has become, like, the ubiquitous type of music that is in just about every Latin American country. And it's usually reflective of the working class, but it's had this, over the last 20 years, enormous repopularization.

BLOCK: This is good-time party music.

CONTRERAS: Now, listen to the beat, OK? (Vocalizing). It's based on a dance that was developed by African slaves in Colombia while their feet were chained, so the beat is very soft. It's like a shuffle.

BLOCK: Yeah.

CONTRERAS: So it's got this very deep, historic roots, but killer grooves either way.

BLOCK: OK. So the third song that I picked, Felix, I have to say, I picked it not because I liked it, but because it's just bizarre. And I don't know what's going on, and I want to hear you tell me about it.

CONTRERAS: OK. Check this one out.


UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing in Spanish).

CONTRERAS: This is a band called EVHA, OK? And it stands for El Viejo Hombre de Los Andes.


CONTRERAS: OK? It's from Ecuador, and they are a very forward collective of musicians who makes Ecuadorian folk music, electronic, little bit of hip-hop, lot of sampling as you can hear. But I'm fascinated by it because of just how they see the world. They see the world...

BLOCK: Yeah.

CONTRERAS: ...As anything can count. Anything sounds good together and...

BLOCK: Put it all in together. Yeah.


BLOCK: Huh. OK. The last song, Felix, totally different mood.


DA CRUZ: (Singing in Portuguese).

CONTRERAS: I got to say that when I put together the list of songs...

BLOCK: Yeah.

CONTRERAS: ...I had an idea of what you might pick (laughter)...

BLOCK: Ha. You have my number. All I could tell you about this song is I know she's singing in Portuguese. I bet she's Brazilian.

CONTRERAS: This is a band called Da Cruz, and the singer's name is Da Cruz. The song's called "Numero Um." They're largely a club band, a dance band, but they mix reggae, Brazilian pop, traditional music. It's a reflection of contemporary Brazil, like the intense social conditions. And the lyrics think of themes of racism, the struggle between the haves and the have-nots, economic injustices, social injustices, all of these heavy topics...

BLOCK: But so listenable. This is, like...

CONTRERAS: Unrelenting...

BLOCK: ...So beautiful and lilting.

CONTRERAS: ...Dance groups. Yeah. It's a juxtaposition of OK. We're going to think, but we're going to dance at the same time.

BLOCK: Felix Contreras is the host of NPR Music's Alt.Latino, a weekly podcast about Latino arts and culture. He visits with us once a month to get our Sunday morning started with just the right music. Felix, thanks so much.

CONTRERAS: Thank you.


DA CRUZ: (Singing in Portuguese). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.