'Global Village' Picks Latin Classics, Reinvented

Mexican singer Magos Herrera mixes bolero and jazz in "Luz de Luna." i

Mexican singer Magos Herrera mixes bolero and jazz in "Luz de Luna." Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of the artist
Mexican singer Magos Herrera mixes bolero and jazz in "Luz de Luna."

Mexican singer Magos Herrera mixes bolero and jazz in "Luz de Luna."

Courtesy of the artist

As he does every so often, Betto Arcos joins Weekend All Things Considered host Guy Raz to discuss some of the music he's been spinning on his KPFK world music program Global Village. This week, Arcos offers a handful of modern artists who have mined the long, intercontinental history of Latin music for source material and inspiration.

Latin Classics, Reinvented

Cover for Afrodiaspora

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Que Bonito Tu Vestido

  • Artist: Susana Baca
  • From: Afrodiaspora

Susana Baca is from Peru, and right now she's the biggest name in Afro-Peruvian music around the world. On Afrodiaspora, she rediscovers how African culture and music have touched different parts of the world, from Cuba to Spain to the U.S. and Mexico. This song opens with a guitar sound from a musical genre called vals, a creole waltz. To make it even more special, Baca combines two musical styles from Mexico: huapango and son jarocho, the two most African-influenced sytles from Mexico.

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Song
Que Bonito Tu Vestido
Album
Afrodiaspora
Artist
Susana Baca
Label
Luaka Bop
Released
2011

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Arco Iris cover

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Flor De Nieve

  • Artist: Amina Alaoui
  • From: Arco Iris

The words that Amina Alaoui is singing actually come from poems written by Al-Mu'tamid Ibn Abbad, the poet-king of Seville, who lived from 1040 to 1095. Poetry and music flourished during his reign, when Christian, Muslim and Jewish cultures lived in harmony; you can still see their legacy today in cities all over Andalucia in Southern Spain. Amina Alaoui is well-versed in the Andalusian classical tradition, and what she does on this album is to imagine what the music might have been like during this golden age of culture in the Mediterranean. She's singing in Arabic, but there's a Spanish flamenco flavor to it. There's also a mandolin, which hints toward fado, the music of Portugal.

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Song
Flor De Nieve
Album
Arco Iris
Artist
Amina Alaoui
Label
DG Deutsche Grammophon
Released
2011

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Cover for Mexico Azul

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Luz de Luna

  • Artist: Magos Herrera
  • From: México Azul

"Luz de Luna" means "moonlight," and the words here essentially say, "I want the moonlight for my sad night / Because since you left, I haven't had any moonlight." This song is a classic bolero written by Mexican composer Alvaro Carrillo, who composed more than 300 songs in his career and was known especially for his boleros. Magos Herrera reinvents Carrillo's original by giving it the New York jazz treatment. What's really compelling about Carrillo is that he had African ancestry — so not only is Herrera paying tribute to the golden age of Mexican music in this song by adding jazz to it, but she's also pointing out the African influence.

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Song
Luz de Luna
Album
México Azul
Artist
Magos Herrera
Label
Sunnyside
Released
2011

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Cover for Red Hot + Rio 2

'Soy Loco Por Ti, América,' performed by Los Van Van and Carlinhos Brown

  • Artist: Various Artists
  • From: Red Hot + Rio 2

People call Los Van Van the Rolling Stones of Cuba. The group was just on tour a couple months ago throughout the U.S., and will return later this year. From the moment Los Van Van hits the stage, it's just nonstop dancing. This song is a collaboration between Los Van Van and one of my favorite artists from Brazil, Carlinhos Brown. It's a classic written by Gilberto Gil for his friend Caetano Veloso in the mid-'60s, and although it's been covered many times, it's never been this high-energy. Sung half in Spanish and half in Portuguese, it's incredibly infectious. This recording is part of the popular Red Hot series, which raises awareness and money to fight HIV/AIDS.

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Song
'Soy Loco Por Ti, América' performed by Los Van Van and Carlinhos Brown
Album
Red Hot + Rio 2
Artist
Various Artists
Label
eOne Music
Released
2011

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