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.

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...

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 RJG); two...

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...

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. A boyhood friend of Mongo Santamaria, Peraza was part of the first wave of Cuban drummers to arrive in the U.S. in the late 1940s, bringing authentic Afro-Cuban rhythms to pop music and jazz. His last full-time gig was with Carlos Santana, with whom he toured and...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oyhlad64-s Paco de Lucia, considered by his fans and critics to be the world's greatest flamenco guitarist, died Wednesday in Mexico of a heart attack. The 66-year-old musician was a modern superstar in a Roma, or Gypsy, tradition that is hundreds of years old. To the world's flamenco fans, de Lucia's story is well-known. He was born Francisco Sanchez Gomez in 1947 and was exposed to the flamenco culture in his home of Andalusia, the cradle of Roma tradition in...

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. The octet you see in this video is a stripped-down version of the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, which is at least twice as large — don't think I...

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. For more than 40 years, she hosted Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz , an NPR program pairing conversation and duet performances that reached an audience of millions, connecting with jazz fans and the curious alike. She interviewed practically every major jazz musician of the...

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. Berrios was a true Nuevoriqueño, born in...

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