Felix Contreras

Felix’s Contributions


July/August 2006    News

Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk: American History

America’s attic just got a bit more musical and stylish this spring. The families of jazz pioneers Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk donated memorabilia and clothing to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Legendary photographer Herman Leonard...


June 2005    News

Latin-Jazz Icons: Museum Mambo

I'm sure my dad, Tito and Chico are having a great jam session in heaven today," said a smiling Nancy Anderson, daughter of Afro-Cuban percussionist Mongo Santamaria. Anderson was in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History (NMAH...


May 2005    Hearsay

Dafnis Prieto

An interview with drummer Dafnis Prieto is not limited to talking about the usual reference points of influences and current activities. The conversation twists and turns from references to the colonial ambience of his native Santa Clara, Cuba, to his newly...


March 2005    Albums

Texas Rumba
Harvie S

Harvie S (formerly Swartz) is proof that you can reinvent yourself. Along with losing the rest of his last name he seems to have lost his substantial history as a straightahead jazz bassist as well. But Harvie S's turn toward a strictly Afro-Cuban musical...


March 2005    Afro-Cuban/Brazilian Vox

Lagrimas Negras
Diego el Cigala/Bebo Valdes

Lagrimas Negras (Calle 54/Bluebird), by 80-something Cuban pianist Bebo Valdes and 30-something Roma flamenco vocalist Diego El Cigala, is not strictly jazz or Cuban or flamenco. It is simply a stroke of genius that defies category. The songs are well-known...


March 2005    Afro-Cuban/Brazilian Vox

Flor de Amor
Omara Portuondo

Omara Portuondo's Flor de Amor (World Circuit/Nonesuch) is just that: a flower of love dedicated to classic old school son and boleros. Had she left Cuba before the revolution perhaps we'd have another First Lady of Cuban song along with Celia Cruz. In her...


March 2005    Afro-Cuban/Brazilian Vox

Eva! Leyenda Peruana
Eva Ayllon

There is a strong tie between African-influenced Peruvian sounds and Afro-Cuban Santeria drum music. The bond is best shown in lando music, the perfect hybrid of Andean melodic tradition and African rhythmic sensibilities, with the percussion played slightly...


March 2005    Afro-Cuban/Brazilian Vox

Piel de Aceituna
Mariana Montalvo

Chilean vocalist Mariana Montalvo's new CD, Piel de Aceituna (World Village), which means "olive-skinned," is a remarkable mixture of Chilean nueva cancion, French chanson and a splash of world-music sensibilities (reggae and West African). Montalvo delivers...


March 2005    Afro-Cuban/Brazilian Vox

Last Tango in Rio
Gabriela Anders

The Argentinean bandeon-an accordion-like instrument that fuels the tango-gets an update on vocalist Gabriela Anders' Last Tango in Rio (Narada). She uses the bandeon where the saxophone would normally be in a jazz group, and while it takes some getting...


March 2005    Afro-Cuban/Brazilian Vox

Nature's Princess
Maria Marquez

Maria Marquez was born in Venezuela, studied music at Berklee in Boston and has been making wonderful music in the Bay Area. Her latest Princesa de Naturaleza (Nature's Princess) is the best showcase of her grasp of pan-Latin traditions and jazz singing...


March 2005    Afro-Cuban/Brazilian Vox

Maria Rita
Maria Rita

Vocalist Maria Rita (WEA International) comes from elite blood: her mother is the late Elis Regina, one of Brazil's greatest vocalists, and her father is pianist and arranger Cesar Camargo Mariano. Rita takes on her legacy head-on with her self-titled debut...


March 2005    Afro-Cuban/Brazilian Vox

The Girl From Bossa Nova

The Girl From Bossa Nova (Groove Note) is not from bossa nova actually. Or Brazil. In fact, she is not even from anywhere in Latin America. Vocalist Jacintha is from Singapore, but she hopscotches her way through a handful of outstanding Brazilian tunes...


March 2005    Afro-Cuban/Brazilian Vox

Marco Figueira

Marco Figueira is a guitarist and vocalist who knows how to keep good company. On his debut CD, Brazilliance (Blue Toucan), Figueira is accompanied by trumpeter Claudio Roditi, pianist Helio Alves, legendary bassist Sergio Brandao and Tom Jobim's longtime...


March 2005    Afro-Cuban/Brazilian Vox

Hollywood Rio
Ana Caram

Ana Caram's Hollywood Rio (Ches-ky) is a concept that actually works: a few well-chosen popular movie themes songs are given the bossa nova treatment. Who knew Burt Bacharach was from Brazil? "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" sounds as if it is supposed...


January/February 2005    Albums

No Escape
Ramon Valle Trio

Before the Cuban revolution, U.S. jazz musicians would regularly play the island's hotels and casinos for the tourists. After hours the Cuban and American musicians would converge on a handful of small clubs for jam sessions. This is where the Cubans could...


November 2004    Albums

Wake Up! (To What's Happening)
Matt Wilson Arts and Crafts

Matt Wilson is a very busy drummer, working both as a leader and as a sideman. The scope of his activities is reflected in the variety of styles presented on Wake Up! (To What's Happening), the second disc by his Arts & Crafts quartet, which also includes...

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