Felix Contreras

The undercurrent of recent Latin Grammy award presentations has been defined by the push and pull between reggaeton and Latin trap artists, and the Latin Grammy establishment.

The pioneering Cuban percussionist Cándido Camero has died at age 99.

Camero's grandson, Julian, told NPR member station WBGO that the Cuban conguero died peacefully at his home in New York on Saturday morning.

One of the casualties of the COVID-19 shutdown has been live music. When authorities banned large gatherings in March, the music industry as a whole came to a virtual standstill for several weeks.

Things slowly things started to change as artists began offering performances from their homes but venues still remain closed, major festivals have been canceled and tours large and small are on an indefinite hold.

Alt.Latino host Felix Contreras joins Weekend Edition host Lulu Garcia-Navarro for their monthly new music chat. The tracks featured this week come from several corners of the Latin music world and all center on themes of inspiration and emotional release, which Felix says is exactly what we need during these difficult times. Listen to the conversation in the audio player above and check out all of the tracks below.

Musician Jorge Santana, guitarist and a pioneer of the Latin rock sound of the early '70s through the Bay Area-based band Malo, has died. The 68-year-old musician died of natural causes on Thu., May 14 at his home in San Rafael, Calif., according to family.

Alt.Latino host Felix Contreras offers a playlist of music that's comforting him and his listeners in these times. Listen in the audio player above and you can stream these songs by Ambar Lucid, X Alfonso, Sol Escobar, Jorge Drexler and all of Alt.Latino's favorite weekly picks on Spotify and Apple Music.

Andy González, a New York bassist who both explored and bridged the worlds of Latin music and jazz, has died. The 69-year-old musician died in New York on Thursday night, from complications of a pre-existing illness, according to family members.

Born and bred in the Bronx, Andy González epitomized the fiercely independent Nuyorican attitude through his music — with one foot in Puerto Rican tradition and the other in the cutting-edge jazz of his native New York.

In the interest of providing a much-needed musical balm, we redirect the upcoming weekly playlists toward indie musicians who are both reeling economically while dealing with the emotional impact of our current situation.

Sometimes we need to ponder deep thoughts, but other times we need to work out our anxieties through physical exercise on the dance floor — or our living rooms and kitchens, as it may be. We're here for you either way.

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Morning Edition's series called One-Hit Wonders / Second-Best Songs focuses on musicians or bands whose careers in the United States are defined by a single monster hit, and explai

In 2001, X Alfonso produced one of those kinds of key moments n Cuban music that reverberate long after the fact.

His album Moré, a tribute to iconic Cuban vocalist Beny Moré, made a huge impact on how compatible hip-hop was to Cuban music.

This past September, Alfonso launched a series of monthly single releases that will culminate this coming September in his first album in 10 years.

Last week, the New Orleans bands Tank and the Bangas and The Soul Rebels traveled to Havana to participate in a cultural exchange; it was meant to acknowledge the past by celebrating the present.

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.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Every week, NPR Music's Alt.Latino publishes a playlist of new music that you can stream. And every month, Alt.Latino's Felix Contreras joins us here on WEEKEND EDITION. So let's take an opportunity now to enjoy some of the music on those playlists.

Hi, Felix.

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.

La Santa Cecilia is one of those bands that makes interviews feel like just hanging out and catching up. The group's new, self-titled album is their first all-English record. They are not only bilingual and bicultural, but like so many of us, they are also multi-musical. There are a ton of different grooves on this record.

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."

Listen to this playlist on Spotify or Apple Music.

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.

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 has been much written about how Latino populations are developing outside of the long standing, larger concentrations on America's coasts. But there's another way to track this development beyond the U.S. Census: follow the music.

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!

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.

Here's a statistic for you: According to Fender Guitars, women now make up 50% of all entry-level players who buy their products.

Why am I sharing that?

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