Felix Contreras

There must be something in the water down in Austin, Texas, because as soon as Brownout started playing behind the Tiny Desk, it was pretty obvious that a deep musicality is just a fact of life for Austin bands.

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Let it be known: Alt.Latino turns ten years old on June 15! We'll have a bunch of cool things to help us celebrate into June and beyond. But first, here's a batch of new music to kicks things off.


When Los Lobos gathered behind the Tiny Desk, it felt like they were cramped in the back room of a family Christmas party. "The only thing missing today are the tamales!" I told my office mates while introducing the band, a reference to a Mexican-American Christmas meal staple. The vibe in the room was definitely familia, with the presence of many longtime fans as well as folks who came for the holiday cheer, Lobos style.

There may East Coast/West Coast beefs in other forms of music, but jazz is all-embracing. This year's edition of A Jazz Piano Christmas features artists from both coasts, and the audience shows no signs of preferring one over the other.

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Bundle up! We're getting ready for cold weather with new songs by Lido Pimienta, Dimelo Flow, Tiger Army and David Lawrence.


Ozuna has been teasing his third album Nibiru since November... of 2018.

It's almost always impossible to pinpoint an exact moment in music history when the plates shift. But looking back at the last decade in Latin music, it's easy, now, to see that the release of "Despacito" by Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi in early 2017 was just such a moment.

It was the face of a six-year-old boy that reminded me to honor those who have passed this year. He was the youngest victim of a mass shooting in Gilroy, Calif., this past July. His face has stayed with me; he looked like one of my sons looking back at me with his innocent smile.

Just when you think you know a lot about Cuban music, along comes a pair of musicians who tell me one that of the major influences on their pioneering jazz/rock/santeria band was Queen.

Yes, that Queen.

For just about fifteen minutes, the members of Rio Mira created a living and very melodic connection to Africa. Set behind a large marimba — and drums that are unique to their corner of the world — the members of the band performed music that is the legacy of enslaved people who were in both Ecuador and Colombia. Rio Mira takes its name from a river that separates Ecuador and Colombia and empties into the Pacific Ocean.

Something happens for me when I hear jazz mixing it up with Brazilian rhythms. In the right hands it falls into the realm of magic.

Pianist, multi-instrumentalist and composer Jovino Santos Neto certainly cast a spell over those who gathered for this joyful turn behind the Tiny Desk.

His trio rushed right out of the gate with the samba-influenced "Pantopé" that introduces the concept of the trio: seamless interaction between the musicians that make the band sound like one big, melodic rhythm machine.

When country music legend Johnny Cash heard the heavy steel doors at Folsom Prison shut behind him on a cloudy January morning in 1968, he reportedly said, "That has the sound of permanence."

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As we hit fall, we here at NPR Music are starting to look back at the year that was. But before we get there, we still have at least 12 weeks of new music to enjoy.

Gaby Moreno's ¡Spangled! is a collaboration with Van Dyke Parks, a music arranger who has worked from everyone from The Beach Boys to U2 to

It's no coincidence that the Tiny Desk concerts I've selected here all happened within a year of each other: There was a stretch when a huge rush of A-list Latinx artists passed through the D.C. area, allowing them an opportunity to stop off at Alt.Latino World Headquarters for a turn behind Bob Boilen's nearby desk.

Obviously, there's no way for this list to account for the dozens of performances by musicians working under the gigantic umbrella known as "Latin music" — that's why we'll explore more in future volumes.

Saxophonist, flautist and bandleader Jane Bunnett has been traveling back and forth between her home in Toronto and Cuba for over 30 years because, well, she can.

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When searching for new songs, Stefanie Fernández and I have different tastes in music, resulting in a wide range of discovery. We're also not always in the same mood.

That is not the case this week.

It was a big day for Spanish artists today in the nominations for the 20th annual Latin Grammys.

Luz Elena Mendoza has such a far-reaching creative spirit that it's almost impossible to confine her to a single musical identity. Which is why she's one of just a handful of artists who've been invited back to the Tiny Desk to offer a revised musical vision.

Every month is Latino Heritage Month on Alt.Latino, but I like to set aside some special features from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 to celebrate. We're kicking things off with a trio of interviews with musicians and a filmmaker who have three very distinct connections to Mexican music.

There was a distinct feeling of history in the air when Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley took his place in our office with his band, and it wasn't just the legend behind his surname. For fifteen minutes, we were treated to the same socially relevant reggae that his father, legendary Jamaican reggae icon Bob Marley, made popular when he put the genre on the international music map.

1969 was a pivotal year for music: Aretha Franklin's Soul '69, both Led Zeppelin's self-titled debut and Led Zeppelin II, Janis Joplin's I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!

'Santana' At 50

Aug 30, 2019

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Woodstock celebrated its 50th anniversary earlier this month, and it's been an amazing excuse to think back to the bands that played there on that grassy field in rural New York state. Some of them were already big names - Jimi Hendrix, CCR, Jefferson Airplane; others were virtual unknowns.

The prolific and celebrated Mexican accordion player Celso Piña died Wednesday of a heart attack in his hometown of Monterrey, Mexico. He was 66 years old.

His record label, La Tuna Records, announced Piña's death on Thursday.

Piña contributed greatly to the evolution of cumbia. The Colombian folk genre has had an interesting life span since its 17th century origins and very few musicians have added to that colorful history more than Celso Piña.

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