Felix Contreras

Felix Contreras is a reporter and producer for NPR's Arts Desk specializing in coverage of jazz, world music, and Latino arts and culture. He is also the co-host of Alt.Latino, NPR's new web based program about Latin Alternative music.

As a producer and reporter for the NPR's Arts desk, Contreras has covered arts and technology issues; reported a series of stories on the financial challenges facing aging jazz musicians; and recently profiled a legendary Mexican singer for the "50 Great Voices" series. 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.

A part- time jazz musician, Contreras plays Afro Cuban percussion with various jazz and Latin bands. He is a recovering television journalist who has worked for both NBC and Univision.

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The Record
4:27 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Paco De Lucia, Modern Superstar Of Flamenco, Dies

Paco de Lucia in 1982.
Paco Junquera Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 11:08 am

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Tiny Desk Concerts
9:42 am
Sat September 14, 2013

Arturo O'Farrill: Tiny Desk Concert

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

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:10 pm

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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The Record
6:04 am
Wed August 21, 2013

Marian McPartland, 'Piano Jazz' Host, Has Died

Marian McPartland.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 3:23 pm

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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A Blog Supreme
4:30 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

'A Walking Encyclopedia Of Rhythms': Remembering Steve Berrios

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

Originally published on Wed July 31, 2013 3:20 pm

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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Tiny Desk Concerts
4:25 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

Omar Sosa & Paolo Fresu: Tiny Desk Concert

Lizzie Chen NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:35 pm

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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A Blog Supreme
11:55 am
Sat April 20, 2013

Tito Puente: 90 Years Of Getting People To Dance

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

Originally published on Sat April 20, 2013 6:38 pm

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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SXSW: Live From Austin
1:04 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Bajofondo, Live In Concert: SXSW 2013

NPR

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 8:59 pm

  • Bajofondo, Recorded Live At Auditorium Shores

With eight accomplished musicians from Argentina and Uruguay, and a sound rooted in tango traditions, Bajofondo lays out a visual and aural feast. Led by Oscar and Grammy winner Gustavo Santaolalla, the group mashes up traditional candombe sounds and other forms with electronica to produce a mix that's hypnotic and danceable.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
9:38 am
Mon August 27, 2012

Renaud Garcia-Fons: Tiny Desk Concert

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

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 9:06 am

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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Alt.Latino
9:53 am
Thu July 26, 2012

Guest DJ: Camilo Lara From Mexican Institute Of Sound

Mexican Institute of Sound singer and producer Camilo Lara.
Thomas Bregardis AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon June 17, 2013 10:08 am

  • Hear This Week's Show

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Alt.Latino
1:10 pm
Thu July 5, 2012

The Latin Alternative Music Conference Preview

Alex Anwandter is one of the musicians KCRW's Raul Campos is looking forward to seeing at the Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York. Anwandter's new album, Rebeldes, came out on June 26.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 12:36 pm

Every July, fans of Latin alternative music gather in New York for the Latin Alternative Music Conference (LAMC) to see and hear their favorite bands and maybe catch a peek at artists who will become big stars.

For the third year, Alt.Latino is packing our bags for a week of panel discussions, musical showcases, and opportunities to meet and greet bands and industry folks.

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