Scouring For New Music With 'Alt.Latino' Alt.Latino host Felix Contreras recently returned from the Latin American Music Conference in New York and presents some musical gems he discovered there.

Scouring For New Music With 'Alt.Latino'

Scouring For New Music With 'Alt.Latino'

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Alt.Latino host Felix Contreras recently returned from the Latin American Music Conference in New York and presents some musical gems he discovered there.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Speaking Spanish).


(Trilling) I'm already dancing. We're about to raise our heart rates for just a minute - mine is already there - just in time for our monthly check-in with Felix Contreras and Alt.Latino. Good morning. That makes me so happy to hear that sound. I can't even tell you.

FELIX CONTRERAS, BYLINE: Oh, good morning. Me, too, man.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, you went on one of your journeys. You scoured the globe for new music, and you ventured deep into the wilds of New York City.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK. Tell us why we're there.

CONTRERAS: OK. So every year, there's the Latin Alternative Music Conference. And it's a great opportunity - it's a networking opportunity for business types, for journalists but also for musicians 'cause people come from all over - from the United States and from Latin America - to come and network. And what I do is I set up a table. And I say, bring me your stuff. Everybody, bring me your stuff.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Ah, bring me your stuff. I like it.

CONTRERAS: And that's how I - that's my version of music discovery.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So I'm assuming that the music we just heard was something that you discovered there.

CONTRERAS: This is a great album. It's called "Petronica." Now, it's reimagined music from Petrona Martinez. Now, she's an iconic folk singer from Colombia. To get the full flavor, let's here a little bit of what she sounds like in her original form.


PETRONA MARTINEZ: (Singing in Spanish).

CONTRERAS: Very rural.


CONTRERAS: Very, very folk. Now check out the work of producers Manuel Garcia-Orozco and Mayte Montero.


MARTINEZ: (Singing in Spanish).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah, all right.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah, I totally dig it - you know, boppy (ph).

CONTRERAS: It's part of the movement of what a lot of these young kids...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The young kids?

CONTRERAS: These young people.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I like the - you can't see this.

CONTRERAS: (Laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But he just did the old guy sign of, like, in quotation marks - the "young kids," quotation marks.

CONTRERAS: (Laughter) But they're doing really fantastic things with this found music. And so they bring another light to somebody who deserves a lot of recognition. That's Petrona Martinez. The album's called "Petronica." Get it? Electronica, "Petronica."

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah, "Petronica."

All right. OK. What's next?

CONTRERAS: OK. We're going to slow it down quite a bit for the Sunday morning coffee and chill. This is another artist that I met while I was there at the LAMC. This is Luz Pinos, and she's from Ecuador.



CONTRERAS: Kind of Cubist piano intro.


LUZ PINOS: (Singing in Spanish).

CONTRERAS: She studied jazz vocals here in the U.S. She's from Ecuador. And the album is called "Mariposa Azul." This track is called "Mozo." And the entire album is a gorgeous mashup of folk music and jazz and her fantastic vocals.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What kind of countries were represented at this conference?

CONTRERAS: They come from all over - Chile, Ecuador - I mean, you name it - Mexico.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So you weren't exactly being honest when you said you went to New York City. You kind of did go global. You know, they came to you.

CONTRERAS: I did go global by sitting right there at the LAMC...


CONTRERAS: ...Exhibition center. Yeah, it really is a lot of fun. And after 18 years, it's got a reputation for people who come to market themselves.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. What else did you find?

CONTRERAS: OK. Now we just heard from Costa Rica. Now we're going to go to Spain - but not in the way that you'd normally expect. Check this one out.


NORA NORMAN: (Singing) I've been looking for the love, putting my hand on the fire.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Ah, yeah. That does not sound like Spanish music (laughter).

CONTRERAS: Right? Nora Nor-mahn (ph) or Nora Norman had our producers in the booth dancing around as well - killer soul singer from Spain. And she's just immersed in R&B and soul music from the United States. And she has this voice that's just, you know, naturally perfect for that.


NORMAN: (Singing) I'm erasing everything I've been writing so far. I'm about to pick a path I always refused to walk. Is this just the way that I can have you?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, what else have you got in the category of mellow discoveries?

CONTRERAS: OK, a Chileno, from Chile, by way of New York City - his name Zeo Munoz.


CONTRERAS: What stood out to me is the lovely muted trumpet at the beginning that sort of reminded me of Miles Davis.


ZEO MUNOZ: (Singing in Spanish).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Que romantico. So romantic. It makes you want to get into a hammock and just like - with a mimosa and - in fact, that's where I'm going right now.


CONTRERAS: We need a camera in the studio 'cause the faces you make sometimes when we play this stuff and you hear it for the first time. This guy - he was a rocker, a hard rocker.


CONTRERAS: Yeah, he was a hard rocker, and he started doing stuff on his own. And the entire album - it is a mix of this really nice romantic guitar with trumpet stuff. It's really a surprising turn for him, but I really liked it. Zeo Munoz is his name.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And perfect Sunday morning music. Felix is the host of Alt.Latino, NPR Music's weekly podcast of Latino arts and culture. Thank you so much.

CONTRERAS: Thank you, as always.


MUNOZ: (Singing in Spanish).

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