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Warm Latin Music For The Chilly Holiday Season
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Warm Latin Music For The Chilly Holiday Season

Music Interviews

Warm Latin Music For The Chilly Holiday Season

Warm Latin Music For The Chilly Holiday Season
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It is officially the holiday season! Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd from NPR's alt.latino play some new (and old) music for NPR's Rachel Martin, who is looking for some great Christmas gifts.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It's official, the holiday season is upon us. Maybe you've even been out to the shopping malls to scope out what you could buy for friends and family for the upcoming holidays. You know what makes a good present?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Singing) That's the way that our love can go.

MARTIN: Music. Here to help us on that front are the hosts of NPR's Alt. Latino, Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd. Hi guys.

JASMINE GARSD, BYLINE: Hi.

FELIX CONTRERAS, BYLINE: Good morning.

MARTIN: So you've brought some new music for us, which is a good thing because a lot of people like to give music for gifts. And I'm one of them. So I'd love some suggestions.

GARSD: Sure. I'm going to start us off with rapper Azealia Banks. She is relatively new. She's a New York rapper. She mostly sings in English, but I really love this track. It's off of her new album "Broke With Expensive Taste."

(LAUGHTER)

GARSD: And it's the song "Give Me A Chance." And I loved that mid-way into it she just starts singing in Spanish.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GIVE ME A CHANCE")

AZEALIA BANKS: (Singing in Spanish).

MARTIN: Cool. I like it.

GARSD: Yeah. I like this album.

MARTIN: So, Felix, you have brought in an album inspired by an iconic piece of music that was made here in the U.S. but popular all over Latin America.

CONTRERAS: I found it hard to believe that it's the 30th anniversary of the Talking Heads "Stop Making Sense" album. OK. There's a small little label in New York called Ponk Records. And they put together this very cool tribute called "Sin Mucho Sentido - A Tribute to Talking Heads," has bands from Mexico, Venezuela, Chile, all over the place. I brought in a track by Andres Landon, who is from Chile but lives in Mexico now. He did a very, very cool version of "Once In A Lifetime."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ONCE IN A LIFETIME")

ANDRES LANDON: (Singing) Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down. Letting the days go by, water flowing underground. Into the blue again, after the money's gone. Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground.

MARTIN: It still sounds good after all this time.

CONTRERAS: Yeah. Oh, yeah, man. It's just timeless.

MARTIN: (Laughter) Jas, I know you go through musical obsessions from time to time. And you've been talking about new Latin soul for a little bit. Tell me a little bit more about what that means.

GARSD: Yeah, there's a lot of artists from around Latin America that are doing, like, this revival of Latin soul and Latin funk and Latin jazz. And just some really good stuff taking a lot from La Lupe, the Cuban queen of soul, Erykah Badu, Billy Holliday.

CONTRERAS: Nina Simone.

GARSD: Nina Simone. And one of my favorite of these singers is Puerto Rico's Calma Carmona. She sent me this song called "Bag Of Bones." And I just think it's lovely. Her voice is lovely. Her - she just has a great stage presence.

CONTRERAS: I really like it.

GARSD: And her voice - you know, she has like a Betty Boop voice.

CONTRERAS: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BAG OF BONES")

CALMA CARMONA: (Singing) I ain't got nowhere, I ain't got nowhere to be no more. I keep walking and walking, and still I see nothing good. I'm alone.

MARTIN: There's a lot of that Simonian vibe.

CONTRERAS: Right. But what was really cool about it, what I liked about it is that over the blues, the slow - very slow blues shuffle, they layer on this, like, Afro-Caribbean, almost, you know, West-African beat on top of it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BAG OF BONES")

CARMONA: (Singing) But I'd rather be the hunter, baby, than be hunted by you.

MARTIN: OK, Felix. You're going to close us out with a little holiday spirit.

CONTRERAS: You know, like you said, it is officially the holiday season. You know, a while back, we were trying to do a show about holiday music, Latin alternative holiday music. And there wasn't a lot out there - any at all, OK.

(LAUGHTER)

CONTRERAS: Right, we had a hard time.

GARSD: We had to call my mom. And she sang for us. It was really embarrassing.

CONTRERAS: There is a Guatemalan singer named Gaby Moreno. And she put out - she just put out this new record. It's called "Posada."

(SOUNDBITE OF ALBUM, "POSADA")

GABY MORENO: (Singing in foreign language).

CONTRERAS: And it is a great collection of traditional songs from Latin America, some stuff that's translated into Spanish, two tracks in English. This track is from that album "Posada." This is track called "Peces En El Rio."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PECES EN EL RIO")

MORENO: (Singing in Spanish).

MARTIN: I could trim my tree to that.

CONTRERAS: You know, right.

MARTIN: Sip a little eggnog.

(LAUGHTER)

GARSD: Yeah.

MARTIN: Get down. Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd, they host NPR Music's Alt. Latino. It's a podcast about Latin music and culture. You can check it out at npr.org/altlatino. Hey, guys, thanks as always.

CONTRERAS: Thank you.

GARSD: Always a blast.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PECES EN EL RIO")

MORENO: (Singing in Spanish).

MARTIN: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.

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