Felix Contreras

Felix Contreras is co-host of Alt.Latino, NPR's web-based program about Latin Alternative music and Latino culture. It features music as well as interviews with many of the most well-known Latino musicians, actors, film makers and writers.

Previously, Contreras was a producer and reporter for NPR's Arts Desk and covered, among other stories and projects: a series reported from Mexico introducing the then-new musical movement called Latin Alternative; a series of stories on the financial challenges facing aging jazz musicians; and helped produce NPR's award winning series 50 Great Voices.

He once stood on the stage of the legendary jazz club The Village Vanguard after interviewing the club's owner and swears he felt the spirits of Coltrane and Monk walking through the room.

Contreras is a recovering television journalist who has worked for both NBC and Univision. He's also a part-time musician who plays Afro-Cuban percussion with various jazz and Latin bands.

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A Blog Supreme
5:30 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

'A Walking Encyclopedia Of Rhythms': Remembering Steve Berrios

Steve Berrios performs with the Fort Apache Band in New York City earlier in 2013.
Andrea Zapata-Girau Courtesy of Jerry Gonzalez

Originally published on Wed July 31, 2013 4:20 pm

It is not easy to play both jazz drum set and Afro-Caribbean percussion. Lots of drummers do it, but few have mastered it in a way that makes their sound in either style unmistakable from the first beat.

The music community lost one of those true innovators Wednesday with the death of percussionist Steve Berrios in New York at age 68. Berrios could move seamlessly from jazz to Afro-Cuban rhythms in a way that perfectly reflected his bicultural roots.

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Alt.Latino
12:34 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

A Kind Of Magic: New Latin Music, Sprinkled With Discovery Dust

Puerto Rican singer Raquel Sofia.
Courtesy of The Black Key Group

Originally published on Mon June 17, 2013 11:00 am

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Tiny Desk Concerts
5:21 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

Omar Sosa & Paolo Fresu: Tiny Desk Concert

Lizzie Chen NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 6:35 pm

You don't really listen to an Omar Sosa concert so much as experience it. The Cuban-born pianist's overall demeanor exudes a sense of calm and deep reflection, while a spiritual connection to music and his ancestors comes through in his piano playing.

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A Blog Supreme
12:55 pm
Sat April 20, 2013

Tito Puente: 90 Years Of Getting People To Dance

Tito Puente on vibraphone at the Palladium.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sat April 20, 2013 7:38 pm

The percussionist and bandleader Tito Puente would have celebrated his 90th birthday this weekend on April 20. And the recently released box set Quatro: The Definitive Collection is a great place to start celebrating the once and forever King of Latin Music. It captures the driving sound of big band mambo and cha-cha-cha that launched people onto dance floors for decades.

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Alt.Latino
3:37 pm
Thu April 18, 2013

Guest DJ With California Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera

California poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera.
courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon June 17, 2013 11:01 am

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SXSW: Live From Austin
2:04 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Bajofondo, Live In Concert: SXSW 2013

NPR

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 9:18 am

With eight accomplished musicians from Argentina and Uruguay, and a sound rooted in tango traditions, Bajofondo lays out a visual and aural feast. Led by Oscar and Grammy winner Gustavo Santaolalla, the group mashes up traditional candombe sounds and other forms with electronica to produce a mix that's hypnotic and danceable.

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SXSW: Live From Austin
2:11 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

Molotov, Live In Concert: SXSW 2013

Adam Kissick for NPR

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 11:59 am

Politics and rock en Español go hand in hand, and Mexico City's Molotov is a flag-waver for that combination. The band formed in 1995 during an era in which seismic political changes transformed Mexican society; from the start, Molotov's music pointed fingers at economic and political institutions — and even aging rock stars.

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Alt.Latino
11:45 am
Thu January 10, 2013

This Week On Alt.Latino: Guest DJ Sandra Cisneros

Author Sandra Cisneros.
Jessica Fuentes Jessica Fuentes

Originally published on Mon June 17, 2013 11:04 am

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Alt.Latino
10:30 am
Thu September 27, 2012

Love And Rockets (And Music): Comic-Book Pioneers Gil & Jaime Hernandez

Love and Rockets
Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu September 27, 2012 11:20 pm

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Tiny Desk Concerts
5:20 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Yva Las Vegass: Tiny Desk Concert

Yva Las Vegas plays a Tiny Desk Concert at the NPR Music offices.
Lauren Rock NPR

At NPR Music, we get stacks of CDs in the mail, as well as countless links to music streams, from bands trying to stand out and get some attention. It's safe to say that we all share similar previewing procedures: At some point, we just sit and listen.

What are we listening for? I can't speak for the others, but I'm constantly in search of music I haven't heard, but which sounds as if it's been in my life forever.

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