Alt.Latino Plunges Into Cuban Jazz And Brazilian Vinyl Usually the Alt.Latino hosts introduce music with an alternative accent. But this week, Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd bring NPR's Lynn Neary some Cuban jazz and Brazilian vinyl.
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Alt.Latino Plunges Into Cuban Jazz And Brazilian Vinyl

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Alt.Latino Plunges Into Cuban Jazz And Brazilian Vinyl

Alt.Latino Plunges Into Cuban Jazz And Brazilian Vinyl

Alt.Latino Plunges Into Cuban Jazz And Brazilian Vinyl

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Usually the Alt.Latino hosts introduce music with an alternative accent. But this week, Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd bring NPR's Lynn Neary some Cuban jazz and Brazilian vinyl.

LYNN NEARY, HOST:

Usually when we have the hosts of NPR's Alt.Latino on this show, they bring music from every corner of Latin America, almost always with an alternative accent. But this week, Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd have brought something a little different.

(SOUNDBITE OF WAYNE WALLACE LATIN JAZZ QUINTET SONG, "ALGO BUENO")

NEARY: Felix, am I wrong? That doesn't sound like the usual Latin alternative music you bring here.

FELIX CONTRERAS, BYLINE: It isn't. You are not wrong. It's Latin jazz. I've been in a Latin jazz mood lately and mainly because there's a lot of great music out right now. And what we're listening to right now is trombonist Wayne Wallace from the Bay Area and his quintet doing a cover of a classic Dizzy Gillespie tune called "Algo Bueno" and it's from their new release, "Intercambio."

(SOUNDBITE OF WAYNE WALLACE LATIN JAZZ QUINTET SONG, "ALGO BUENO")

CONTRERAS: OK, what they did on this track was change it up a little bit. Classic Latin jazz is from the Caribbean - Cuba, to be exact. But what Wayne Wallace and his group did on this track is they performed a bomba, which is from Puerto Rico. It's a very, very folk-oriented tune, and it's not usually used in Latin jazz. It's very clever, it's very melodic, and it showcases one of my musical heroes, master percussionist Michael Spiro. It's a great track.

(SOUNDBITE OF WAYNE WALLACE LATIN JAZZ QUINTET SONG, "ALGO BUENO")

NEARY: And Jasmine, I hear that you've been doing some crate diving lately. Is that right?

JASMINE GARSD, BYLINE: Yeah, one genre I've really been getting into is old Brazilian music. And one of my favorite discoveries is the singer Cartola, which means top hat, and it was really popular in the '30s. But this is a song from the '70s, and I'm going to tell you a little bit more about the feel and the mood of the song, but check it out. This is "Preciso Me Encontrar," and my Portuguese is terrible, I'm really sorry, but it means I need to find myself.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PRECISO ME ENCONTRAR")

CARTOLA: (Singing in Portuguese).

CONTRERAS: That sounds like a bass clarinet doing the countermelody in there.

GARSD: Yeah, it's really beautiful. I love that Cartola's voice is like an instrument in itself, you know. I like very unpolished, odd voices in my music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PRECISO ME ENCONTRAR")

CARTOLA: (Singing in Portuguese).

GARSD: But also, you know, something that I think gets lost in interpretation a lot, when it comes to Brazilian music, is it's always interpreted as happy, party music. But there's this kind of existential melancholy that exists throughout Brazilian music. And, you know, this is also - I'm focusing a lot on the '70s, which was a really difficult time for Brazil with a dictatorship and a lot of violence. And there's, like, this ongoing theme of I need to get out, I need to find myself, something needs to change. And I just love the - it's a very quiet song, but there's, like, a storm within it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PRECISO ME ENCONTRAR")

CARTOLA: (Singing in Portuguese).

NEARY: What else have you found in your search for classic vinyl, Jasmine?

GARSD: So I brought another song from the '70s from Brazil. "O Que Sera" is one of my favorite Brazilian classics. It was written by Chico Buarque, also in the mid-'70s, and it's from the film "Dona Flor Y Sus Dos Maridos" which is a classic of Brazilian cinema. And it's, again, that existential melancholy - whatever will be, will be. And a lot of Chico Buarque's songs from the '70s are about the restlessness of Brazil. I really like this interpretation by a Brazilian singer named Simone.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "O QUE SERA")

SIMONE: (Singing in Portuguese).

CONTRERAS: It's quite a steamy movie. I don't know, it might be too steamy for Sunday mornings, but we'll move on.

(SOUNDBITE OF SAMUEL TORRES GROUP SONG, "EL SILENCIO DESPLAZADOR")

NEARY: Well this is something different now. What is this, Felix?

CONTRERAS: OK, more Latin jazz. It's a fascinating new album by percussionist Samuel Torres. The album's called "Forced Displacement." This is called "El Silencio Desplazador." There's a concept and a theme behind the entire album. I'll tell you a little bit about it, but let's check out the song first.

NEARY: OK.

(SOUNDBITE OF SAMUEL TORRES GROUP SONG, "EL SILENCIO DESPLAZADOR")

NEARY: Very serious.

CONTRERAS: It's very serious and very somber. It's a concept album dedicated to the victims of violence in Colombia at the hands of the drug cartels, the lawlessness and sometimes even the fight between the Army and the guerrillas. And Samuel Torres is a jazz musician. And you usually approach these kind of things with lyrics and themes and artful writing. But he put an instrumental album together to deal with all of these different emotions and all these different things. And this particular track translates to displaced silence and that's what happens when a community is taken over by violence. It silences the community from speaking out and making music or celebrating life. This song includes a full measure of silence, believe it or not.

NEARY: Really?

CONTRERAS: Yeah, because he wanted to make that effect of, OK, this is what happens in a community. Everybody is out.

(SOUNDBITE OF SAMUEL TORRES GROUP SONG, "EL SILENCIO DESPLAZADOR")

CONTRERAS: Very effective, that silence.

NEARY: Yeah, it is very effective.

CONTRERAS: The album, again, is called "Forced Displacement" and this is the Samuel Torres Group.

NEARY: Felix Contreras joined us here in our D.C. studios and Jasmine Garsd spoke to us from San Diego. They're the hosts of Alt.Latino from NPR Music. You can download their show every Thursday from their website, npr.org/altlatino, or subscribe at the usual digital outlets. Thanks to both of you for sharing this music with us.

CONTRERAS: Thank you, Lynn.

GARSD: Thanks so much, Lynn. It was so much fun.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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