From Samba To Flamenco, A Latin Grammy Preview

The Los Angeles band La Santa Cecilia is nominated in the Best Tropical Song category at this year's Latin Grammys. i i

hide captionThe Los Angeles band La Santa Cecilia is nominated in the Best Tropical Song category at this year's Latin Grammys.

Rene Miranda/Courtesy of the artist
The Los Angeles band La Santa Cecilia is nominated in the Best Tropical Song category at this year's Latin Grammys.

The Los Angeles band La Santa Cecilia is nominated in the Best Tropical Song category at this year's Latin Grammys.

Rene Miranda/Courtesy of the artist

The 2011 Latin Grammy Awards will take place this Thursday in Las Vegas. For those unfamiliar with the categories and nominees, Betto Arcos of KPFK's Global Village returns to weekends on All Things Considered to play songs from a few of his favorite nominated performers. Included are a samba artist best known for his film role as a singing sailor, the reigning king of flamenco, one of Mexico's biggest bands and an L.A. ensemble that channels the various sounds of its city.

Latin Grammy Preview

Cover for Seu Jorge and Almaz

Cirandar

  • Artist: Seu Jorge and Almaz
  • Album: Seu Jorge and Almaz

Seu Jorge starred in the Brazilian movie City of God, but American audiences probably know him best from Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic. Jorge appeared in the film and also did the soundtrack, which featured covers of David Bowie songs. The great thing about Seu Jorge is that he has a tremendous gift for reinvention. This album is full of cover songs of different artists that he likes, from Jorge Benjor to Roy Ayers; it's nominated for Best Brazilian Contemporary Pop Album. "Cirandar" is a traditional samba that was written by and initially sung by a well-known samba singer named Martinho da Vila. Jorge's version transforms it into a sort of cinematic, acid-jazz samba.

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Cover for Cigala & Tango

Nostalgias

  • Artist: Diego El Cigala
  • Album: Cigala & Tango

Diego el Cigala is perhaps the most well-known flamenco singer right now. People know him because of the work he did with the Cuban pianist Bebo Valdés — they recorded the collaborative album Lágrimas Negras. This new album is nominated for a Latin Grammy in the Best Tango category, which is funny because he's not from even from Argentina. "Nostalgias" is a very popular tango standard, but interpreted here through a flamenco style known as "bulerias," accompanied by the very talented guitarist, Diego del Morao.

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Cover for MTV Unplugged: Los Tigres Del Norte And Friends

Somos Más Americanos

  • Artist: Los Tigres del Norte And Friends
  • Album: MTV Unplugged: Los Tigres Del Norte And Friends

Los Tigres del Norte is one of the biggest bands out of Mexico. "Somos Mas Americanos" is a kind of anthem for immigrants — the lyrics go, "I am as American as anybody else; why am I being told to leave this country? I'm just coming here the same as everyone else has in the past, to work hard, and I'm being told that I'm not wanted here." The band has recorded this song before, but this version is from an MTV Unplugged that's been nominated for Best Norteño Album; it features a guest appearance from Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine.

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Cover for Noches Y Citas

La Negra

  • Artist: La Santa Cecilia
  • Album: Noches Y Citas

La Santa Cecilia is named after the patron saint of musicians in Latin America. The lead singer, Marisoul Hernandez, grew up in the heart of Mexican Los Angeles, and learned to sing with the mariachis and trios on Olvera Street. "La Negra" is up for Best Tropical Song, and it has several layers to it: You hear a taste of cumbia, the sensual lyrics of a romantic bolero, a little jazz vocalese, a rich mix of different sounds that the musicians are exposed to in L.A.

This album is available on Amazon.

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Cigala & Tango

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  • Album: Cigala & Tango
  • Artist: Diego El Cigala
  • Label: Universal Import
  • Released: 2011
 

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