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'Global Village' Picks Latin Classics, Reinvented

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'Global Village' Picks Latin Classics, Reinvented

'Global Village' Picks Latin Classics, Reinvented

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/137524901/137594435" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "QUE BONITA TU VESTIDO")

RAZ: And now for our regular music feature today, reaching back to the roots of Afro-Latin music and bringing it up-to-date.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "QUE BONITA TU VESTIDO")

SUSANA BACA: (Singing in foreign language)

RAZ: This is Afro-Peruvian singer Susana Baca. She's part of a loose and unofficial movement of global artists making modern music out of very old sounds. And our global music guy, Betto Arcos, started noticing the trend recently. He's the host of Global Village on KPFK in Los Angeles. Betto, great to have you back.

BETTO ARCOS: Hey. Great to be with you, Guy.

RAZ: So let's start with this track by Susana Baca, which I love. It's awesome. What is she doing here?

ARCOS: She's really bringing together a couple of different music traditions that have African roots. The first is that wonderful percussive sound that you hear, the cajon, the Peruvian instrument that's worldwide known as sort of one of the most important element of Afro-Peruvian music. And then, she's going to Mexico and rediscovering some sounds from the Gulf Coast of Mexico. Specifically, we're talking about two styles of music: huapango, which is really the main rhythm of this song, and son jarocho, which we hear later in this particular tune. And I don't know if you noticed the theme of this particular tune, Guy, but it's a very well-known song in the U.S. It's "La Bamba."

RAZ: Oh, yeah. Of course. Right.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "QUE BONITO TU VESTIDO")

RAZ: That's Susana Baca. I love that track, Betto. This next one that you brought in, I cannot wait for everyone listening to hear this because it just - it's beautiful. It's called "Flor De Nieve." And it's by a Moroccan singer named Amina Alaoui, and here it is.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FLOR DE NIEVE")

AMINA ALAOUI: (Singing in foreign language)

RAZ: What a beautiful piece. Tell me about Amina Alaoui.

ARCOS: She's singing a poem by a poet king from Seville in Andalusia in Southern Spain who lived from the 11 to 12th century. And during, you know, this period of, sort of the golden age of Al-Andalus, when Christian, Muslim and Jewish cultures lived in harmony, you know, the part that's really amazing about this song in this - throughout the record is that Amina Alaoui is bringing a couple of different classical traditions: the Andalusian tradition, the flamenco tradition, and then you hear that beautiful mandolin. It's also hinting toward Portugal, toward fado. See, in a sense trying to imagine what it might have been like during this period. Bringing these three kind of traditions together is just so blissful.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FLOR DE NIEVE")

ALAOUI: (Singing in foreign language)

RAZ: My guest is Betto Arcos. He is host of KPFK's "Global Village" in Los Angeles. And we're listening to a few new tracks that he's brought in. These are global artists who are updating classic sounds. Betto, let me move on to the next artist you brought in. This is an artist from Mexico, and her name is Magos Herrera.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LUZ DE LUNA")

MAGOS HERRERA: (Singing in foreign language)

RAZ: So it sounds, Betto, like this is a standard that she's kind of updating.

ARCOS: It is. It's a classic bolero by one of the great composers during sort of this golden age of music in Mexico. His name is Alvaro Carrillo. He was from Oaxaca, and he was of African ancestry. You know, a lot of people may not know, but there is an African presence in Mexico, both from the Gulf Coast in Veracruz, as we heard in the earlier tune with Susana Baca, and with - in Oaxaca where Alvaro Carrillo is from. So Magos Herrera is - in this particular album, not only is doing this tribute to the golden age of boleros in Mexico but also pointing out the African influence in the music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LUZ DE LUNA")

HERRERA: (Singing in foreign language)

RAZ: That's Mexican singer Magos Herrera. The song is called "Luz de Luna." It's off her latest record. That's a great track, Betto. We have time for just one more. This is a lot, definitely more upbeat than the rest of your picks today. Let's hear a little bit now.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SOY LOCO POR TI, AMERICA")

LOS VAN VAN AND CARLINHOS BROWN: (Singing in foreign language)

ARCOS: Yeah. This is the fantastic super group from Cuba, Los Van Van also known as the Rolling Stones of Cuba. What they're doing here is it's a collaboration of sorts. It's really Los Van Van and Carlinhos Brown from Brazil, from Bahia. And this is a song by the great singer-songwriter from Brazil, Gilberto Gil who composed this song in the mid-'60s for his friend, Caetano Veloso. The song is called "Soy Loco Por Ti, America," which means, I'm crazy for you, America. When Carlinhos sings I'm crazy for you, you believe it. And, you know, he's not just talking about North America here. He's talking about the Americas, both north and south, to celebrate the richness and diversity that can be found throughout, just like the music we heard today.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SOY LOCO POR TI, AMERICA")

BROWN: (Singing in foreign language)

RAZ: The band is called Los Van Van, and they're just one of the artists you can hear on Betto Arcos's show. It's called "Global Village." You can hear it on KPFK in Los Angeles. Betto, as always, thanks so much for sharing this music with us.

ARCOS: Oh, it's always a pleasure. And dance the day away.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SOY LOCO POR TI, AMERICA")

BROWN: (Singing in foreign language)

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