Felix Contreras

Felix Contreras is a reporter and producer for NPR's Arts Desk specializing in coverage of jazz, world music, and Latino arts and culture. He is also the co-host of Alt.Latino, NPR's new web based program about Latin Alternative music.

As a producer and reporter for the NPR's Arts desk, Contreras has covered arts and technology issues; reported a series of stories on the financial challenges facing aging jazz musicians; and recently profiled a legendary Mexican singer for the "50 Great Voices" series. 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.

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

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6:00am

Mon January 30, 2012
Tiny Desk Concerts

Girl In A Coma: Tiny Desk Concert

Michael Katzif NPR

One of the best features of our Tiny Desk Concert series is the occasional opportunity to hear a band perform its songs as they were written: with just an acoustic guitar and unamplified voices. That's the case with Girl In A Coma. In an interview, singer Nina Diaz said she writes the band's songs by closing herself off with just a notepad and her acoustic guitar.

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10:01pm

Tue October 18, 2011
Music

Girl In A Coma: Rockers Tackle Their Second Language

Originally published on Fri October 21, 2011 2:19 pm

Girl in a Coma performs in both English and Spanish — though none of the members is fluent in the latter.

Josh Huskin Courtesy of the artist

Girl in a Coma is a trio of young women from San Antonio who play rock music — loud rock music — in both English and Spanish. Lead singer and songwriter Nina Diaz, 23, is the youngest member of the band. Her sister Phannie plays drums, while their longtime friend Jenn Alva slaps the bass. Girl in a Coma is signed to Blackheart Records — a label owned by rocker Joan Jett — and takes its name from the song "Girlfriend in a Coma" by The Smiths.

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3:30pm

Thu August 25, 2011
The Record

A Dwindling Trust Puts Free Concerts On The Rocks

Perth Amboy, NJ's long-running free concert series is just one program threatened by loss of funding as the Music Performance Trust Fund dries up.
Felix Contreras

Over the next few weeks, we're producing stories about the business of putting on free concerts, how they work and what they bring to their communities. Last week's Weekend Edition Saturday story covered non-profit concert presenters in New York City.

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3:32pm

Tue July 26, 2011
A Blog Supreme

Frank Foster, Jazz Saxophonist And Arranger, Has Died

American jazz saxophonist Frank Foster performs on stage circa 1981.
David Redfern Redferns/Getty Images

Frank Foster, a saxophonist and composer/arranger best known for his longtime association with the Count Basie Orchestra, has died. He passed away in his sleep early Tuesday morning at his home in Chesapeake, Va., according to his widow and manager, Cecilia Foster. He was 82.

Foster was a key member of the "New Testament" Basie band — the large ensemble Basie led in the 1950s and beyond. In addition to his playing on tenor saxophone and other woodwinds, he contributed many melodies and arrangements. At least one of those tunes, "Shiny Stockings," became a jazz standard.

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12:44pm

Thu July 21, 2011
Tiny Desk Concerts

Y La Bamba: Tiny Desk Concert

Originally published on Thu July 21, 2011 11:54 am

Maggie Starbard NPR
  • Audio Only: Y La Bamba's Tiny Desk Concert

It's nice to discover a new voice on your own, but it's just as nice when it comes recommended from someone you trust. That's how Y La Bamba came my way: Los Lobos sax man and producer Steve Berlin slipped one of the band's CDs into my hand and said, "Listen to this voice." I'm glad he did, because I instantly became captivated by the sound of singer Luzelena Mendoza.

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