Vintage Latin Picks From Betto Arcos Of 'Global Village' Arcos recently sat down with Weekend All Things Considered host Guy Raz to discuss what he's been spinning. Normally, Arcos shares new music, but here he goes back in time.
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Vintage Latin Picks From Betto Arcos Of 'Global Village'

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Vintage Latin Picks From Betto Arcos Of 'Global Village'

Vintage Latin Picks From Betto Arcos Of 'Global Village'

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GUY RAZ, host: Every so often on this program, we check in with Betto Arcos. He is the host of the world music program called "Global Village." You can hear it on KPFK in Los Angeles. And usually, when Betto comes on to the program, he brings us some of the most interesting new music from the Latin world. But today, he's taking us back in time.

(Soundbite of song, "Saludo Maracaibo")

PEDRO MIGUEL Y SUS MARACAIBOS: (Singing in foreign language)

RAZ: This is actually from the 1960s. It's a new collection of Peruvian music recorded back then. And Betto Arcos joins me from NPR West in Southern California.

Betto, hey.

Mr. BETTO ARCOS, (Host, "Global Village"): Hey, Guy. Great to be with you again.

RAZ: This collection is great, by the way. Love it. It's called "Gozalo Bugalu Tropical Volume 4."

Mr. ARCOS: Gozalo.

RAZ: Ah, got you. All right.

Mr. ARCOS: As in, enjoy it.

RAZ: OK. Right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. ARCOS: You know, this collection really kind of fills the link between the mambo era and the dawn of salsa in South America. When you think of Latin American music, sometimes people make a mistake of identifying, sort of, Afro Latin music just in the Caribbean.

RAZ: Right.

Mr. ARCOS: But that said, you have to acknowledge the fact that some of the great creators are Cuban and Puerto Rican, and a lot of that music in the '60s and '70s happened in New York, actually.

But it spread throughout Latin America, you know, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru. But they have their own kind of music, and so they come up with all these great mixes, these great sounds. And so that's what we are hearing in this collection.

RAZ: I could dance to this...

Mr. ARCOS: Oh, God.

RAZ: ...if I could dance.

Mr. ARCOS: Oh, this is great. This is a band that we're listening to right now is Pedro Miguel Y Sus Maracaibos.

(Foreign language spoken) which is sort of greetings, kind of welcoming people into the show, into the audience, into the dance floor.

It's one of the bands that kind of stands out from the heyday of tropical music in Peru. It's kind of an homage to the great names in Latin music; Ernesto Lecuona, Agustin Lara, and then kind of a melody that they use from each of these composers paying homage to them.

(Soundbite of song, "Saludo Maracaibo")

PEDRO MIGUEL Y SUS MARACAIBOS: (Foreign language spoken)

RAZ: It is a great cut. This collection is great. Gozalo, right? I got that right.

Mr. ARCOS: That's right.

RAZ: All right. I'm enjoying this. And I want to hear another track from it. This one has a pretty memorable intro. And let's hear that for a moment.

(Soundbite of song, "Psicosis")

LA SONORA DE LUCHO MACEDO: (Singing in foreign language)

(Soundbite of laughter)

RAZ: OK. This song is "Psicosis". I guess it means psychosis, right?

Mr. ARCOS: Yeah.

RAZ: Who is this, and what can you tell me about them?

Mr. ARCOS: This is the fantastic Sonora De Lucho Macedo. That's a big band -one of the big bands that had the biggest impacts in Peruvian music in the '50s. They were not only big in Peru but they also toured all over South America. And they released, believe it or not, Guy, more than 80 albums...

RAZ: Wow.

Mr. ARCOS: ...and dozens of singles. It's one of those groups that created this kind of environment that helped to spawn other bands. And their repertoire was a mix of mambos, guarachas, some boleros, some merengues. But really, the Afro Cuban Foundation was very solid in there. Of course, you have to understand that this is Peru and a lot of Afro Peruvians are also part of this band, so you have this great mixture of music that's coming up in this period. And it is just really, really juicy and funky. I love this particular sound.

(Soundbite of song, "Psicosis")

LA SONORA DE LUCHO MACEDO: (Singing in foreign language)

(Soundbite of laughter)

RAZ: I'm speaking with Betto Arcos. He is the host of the program "Global Village" on KPFK in Los Angeles. And he's brought a few new collections of old South American music. We just heard from Peru, Betto. And now, to Colombia.

(Soundbite of song, "Arros Con Coco")

RAZ: How can you go wrong wit this sound? I say this again and again. If I could dance, I would dance to this. This one's called "Arroz Con Coco" from a collection of Colombian music titled "Cartagena."

Betto, what eras are they covering here?

Mr. ARCOS: This is early '60s - early '60s to early '70s. This is a period when musicians were combining this wonderful swing of cumbia, which is what you're hearing in this tune, the driving base of salsa, and then you have this fantastic arrangement of that - in this case, this amazing musician, Lucho Bermudez, who created this really glorious sound of brass and percussion, he's really, in my opinion, one of the finest arrangers.

He's sort of the Duke Ellington of Colombia. He played clarinet, he played saxophone. This was a 16-piece band. And, man, this is so funky. This is also, I have to say, Guy, it's just simply very sensual, very erotic music.

(Soundbite of song, "Arros Con Coco")

CURRO FUENTES & THE BIG BAND CUMBIA & DESCARGA SOUND OF COLOMBIA: (Singing in foreign language)

RAZ: All right. All right. Sensual and erotic. Betto, you want to play another track from the "Cartagena" collection. I think this one's about a fish merchant, is that right? The pescador?

Mr. ARCOS: Yeah. It's actually a fisherman.

(Soundbite of song, "La Cumbia del Pescador")

CURRO FUENTES & THE BIG BAND CUMBIA & DESCARGA SOUND OF COLOMBIA: (Singing in foreign language)

Mr. ARCOS: This is one of the coolest tunes of this collection, Guy. It's a genre music called cumbia guaguanco. And what is a guaguanco, you might ask? It's really a confluence of two styles of music; one from Colombia and one from Cuba. But what you hear are about a minute and 54 seconds into the tune, you go from a cumbia into this guaguanco and to this Cuban sound that's really juicy, funky beat. Check it out.

(Soundbite of song, "La Cumbia del Pescador")

CURRO FUENTES & THE BIG BAND CUMBIA & DESCARGA SOUND OF COLOMBIA: (Singing in foreign language)

Mr. ARCOS: And that's what's so special about this music is that in Colombia, they were in this period when musicians have the ability to create this fantastic rich sound of blending Cuban music and salsa with their own Colombian sounds. And there is no place on the planet that this was happening. And this is what it makes it special.

RAZ: Betto, we have time for just one more track, which I'm sad to say because I love what you brought this week. This is such great music, so energetic. This is from another collection that you found. This is also old music from South America.

(Soundbite of song, "Aqui Los Bravos")

MICHI SARMIENTO Y SU BRAVOS: (Singing in foreign language)

Mr. ARCOS: This is a collection of really pure Colombian dance floor thunder. It's 16 tracks of the finest descargas, cumbias recorded by none other than the legendary band leader Michi Sarmiento Y Su Bravos, late '60s - '67 to '77, the golden age of this particular band.

This is someone who was born into a musical family in 1938. He was a child prodigy. He played saxophone. He began playing in cabarets and casinos in Cartagena in the '50s. But his music is just packed with this bass, this montuno, this Cuban flavor of his solos. And it's really funky, massy, metallic percussions.

Check this out where you hear the bass, there's a solo bass, and he said:

(Foreign language spoken) You know, so he's sort of saying something about the bass player, and you hear that bass just ripping it.

(Soundbite of song, "Aqui Los Bravos")

MICHI SARMIENTO Y SU BRAVOS: (Foreign language spoken)

RAZ: This is by Michi Sarmiento. It's called "Aqui Los Bravos." My guest has been Betto Arcos. You can hear his radio program, "Global Village," if you're in the Los Angeles area on KPFK. And you can find out more about all the recordings you've just heard at our website, nprmusic.org.

Betto, thanks again.

Mr. ARCOS: Thank you. And enjoy listening.

(Soundbite of song, "Aqui Los Bravos")

MICHI SARMIENTO Y SU BRAVOS: (Singing in foreign language)

RAZ: And for Saturday, that's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Guy Raz. Remember, you can hear the best of this program on our podcast. Subscribe or listen at iTunes or at npr.org/weekendatc. We post new episode every Sunday night. We're back with a whole new hour of radio tomorrow. Until then, thanks for listening and have a great night.

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