Latin Roots

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Latin Roots

David Dye Latin Roots is a bi-weekly series on the World Cafe program, hosted by David Dye, and made possible by the Wyncote Foundation. In this new series, David Dye explores the vast variety of music from Spanish-speaking countries and people. From the standards like cumbia, mambo and son to Latin rock and even reggaeton, we'll hear it all.

The series airs every other Thursday during the second hour of the World Cafe program, and will delve into the musical styles and genres of Spanish influence with a rotating series of guests. With each segment, David Dye and his guest will explore two related songs, current and old, and discuss their unique characteristics, how they relate and where they fit into the spectrum of Latin music.
Latin Roots – The Evolution of Cuba’s Charanga Music Originally evolving out of the more formal 19th century style danzon, things changed for charanga music in the 1930’s as we will hear with a transformative piece by the legendary Cachao. It’s interesting that this very Cuban form has been kept alive since the early days of the Cuban revolution – when there were few places to play on the island – by Puerto Rican musicians…
It’s time for another Latin Roots today as Ernesto Lechner, co-host of The Latin Alternative radio show, is here to talk about a very romantic style of Latin music, balada. Ernesto will play us a couple of examples of the style starting in the late 1960’s when a lot of authentic balada drew from jazz and even bossa nova. We’ll also hear a modern rendition from Babasonicos from Argentina.
Ernesto Lechner talks about his favorite singer, Joe Arroyo, an influential Columbian musician. He began singing at the age of 10 in the whorehouses of Cartagena. He was discovered by Fruko when he was a teenager and joined Fruko's band, Fruko Y Sus Tesos. In the 1980s, Arroyo pursued a solo career. He established a unique tropical sound called "Joeson" ("Joe's sound") that mixes salsa, calypso, zouk, compas, meringue, cumbia, and Columbian folklore.
When Catalina Maria Johnson told us she wanted to highlight the “coastal music “of Colombia we didn’t even consider that there would be two parts to that because there are two coasts! Today we look at the music of Colombia’s Caribbean coast with a couple of selections that indicate the isolation of African slaves on either coast.
The Pacific Coast with Catalina Maria Johnson August 8, 2013 - Today we hear music from the Pacific coast which is dominated by marimba. Colombia has a large Afro Colombian population, up to 80% of the country is of African descent. Our Latin Roots guest today, Catalina Maria Johnson, from the Chicago based program Beat Latino, plays music from the coastal areas where that population is concentrated. It turns out that geography plays a major…
Another live session for Latin Roots as we travel to Fidel Nadal’s home studio in Buenos Aires for a session with a man who owns his genre: Argentine Reggae.
On our recent World Cafe Travel Adventure to Buenos Aires we learned one thing right away: Argentineans may be known for tango, but really, they like to rock! We were invited to the home studio of Catupecu Machu, one of Argentina's most popular bands.
We welcome back Judy Cantor-Navas, Managing Editor of Billboard En Espanol for this Latin Roots segment on flamenco. Much about the origins of this music is contested. Yes, it is now strongly associated with Spain but some say its beginnings actually stretch back to India. It is also strongly associated with the Spanish city of Sevilla but Judy tells us that is also contested.
It didn't just develop, it exploded in popularity through the 90's. Post-Revolution, after training in jazz and classical conservatories, many Cuban musicians were looking for something new that would challenge their skills. Timba developed as a music combining Rumba with other dance music including even funk.
The a cappella style has a sense of urgency, like a physiological necessity for those who sing it. A naked person walks into a fancy gala. In a world of overproduced, painstakingly packaged and perfectly polished music, that's what it's like to hear Canto Cardenche — a completely a cappella style of Mexican music — for the first time.
"Oh! It is so good to fly, at two in the morning, at two in the morning it's so good to fly, oh mama! To fly and let yourself fall, into the arms of a lady……The witch grabs me, she takes me to her home, she sits me on her lap, she gives me kisses …. 'Oh tell me, tell me tell me: how many creatures have you consumed?' 'Nobody, nobody! I only wish to…
Our Latin Roots reporter Rachel Faro is back this time to introduce us to Garifuna. Rachel wears many hats: as an artist, a record producer and she owns the Ashe record label specializing in Latin music. Garifuna music was originally specific to the geographic area surrounding coastal Belize and Honduras in Central America. It is the music of the Garifuna people who are descendants of slaves settled on islands off the coast, arriving after a…
Today we welcome a new Latin Roots co-host, singer-songwriter, Grammy nominated record producer and record company owner Rachel Faro to tell us about the Portuguese tradition of Fado. Fado began in Lisbon and has been around for at least a couple of centuries. Over the years the music has moved from the streets to the concert halls. Fado singers like the national treasure Amalia Rodrigues and Mariza, both of whom we will hear from today,…
A hefty task for our Latin Roots co-host today Josh Norek: Define the broad swath of Argentine rock with just few bands. But Josh, the co-host of The Latin Alternative, is up to it precisely because he spent time in Buenos Aires as student during a most vibrant period for the music. In this session he plays a classic from Los Fabulosos Cadillacs who had ska influences in their early work in the 80's. That…
A playground for musicians, Mexico has become the hub where traditional folk music has effectively fused with more modern forms of music. In this installment of Latin Roots David Dye has the pleasure to explore the prominence of an emerging crossover music genre with Josh Nerok, who is the co-host and executive producer of the nationally syndicated one hour radio show entitled The Latin Alternative. Already popular in Latin America, Mexitrónica is heading its way…
In this 29th installment of Latin Roots from World Cafe, David Dye and Grammy-winning Latin music producer Aaron Levinson embark on a transcontinental journey exploring the history and richness of bolero music — a slow-tempo dance with distinctive forms in Cuba and Spain. Bolero typically focuses on themes like love or loss, but as Dye and Levinson discuss, the critical difference between both forms is actually the rhythm. Since its beginnings in the late 18th…
Grammy-winning latin music producer Aaron Levinson and host David Dye embark on a journey to the world of merengue music, starting with its roots in the Dominican Republic. Largely influenced by the dictator Rafael Trujillo to celebrate his political agenda, merengue is a form of fast paced, rhythmic music. Utilizing diatonic accordions, tamboras, and the güira, traditional merengue bands have irresistibly induced listeners from around the world to move with the sounds of the tropical…
Latin Roots contributor and Music Journalist, Catalina Maria Johnson loves Christmas and joins us for a special Spanish language holiday selection that goes beyond "Feliz Navidad." She also has picked out another great Spotify selection for us! We hear music from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Columbia, and the Dominican Republic. In Latin America, some Christmas parties last for 9 days, from the 16th to the 26th, and they are all about the music.
As we approach the peak of this splendid and cheerful holiday season, this segment of Latin Roots is providing listeners with sizzling renditions of well-known Christmas classics. Most people are familiar with the traditional "Little Drummer Boy" song but most of them have yet to enjoy a very popular Cuban version of the song interpreted by the band Los Papines. The band, commonly known as the "Kings of Rhumba" utilize deeps sounds of the percussion…
In this segment of Latin Roots, Jasmine Garsd discusses how the Brazilian artistic movement of Tropicália, also known as Tropicalismo, emerged and became a prominent force in the Latin American music scene. Garsd provides listeners with insightful information about the oppression and corruption that plagued countries like Brazil during a totalitarian regime. However, during these obscure times in Brazil, a cultural manifestation, identified as antropofagia, was conceived by Brazilian poet Oswald de Andrade and took…
In this 23rd installment of the Latin Roots segment, we diverge from focusing on a specific type of Latin music/ genre and instead talk about an integral and enormously popular instrument in Latin music. NPR's Alt Latino correspondent Felix Contreras is invited to discuss the history and the impact of the conga, or more properly known as the tumbadora, in Cuba and abroad. Originating from Africa, the conga became a critical instrument in Afro-Cuban religious…
Nueva Cancion ("new song") is a style born in the '60s and '70s, when many Latin countries were ruled by repressive dictators. The songs were folk-inspired, with guitar-based song forms, percussive elements and socially charged lyrics. The late Victor Jara is seen as the father of the movement, and he comes up in this conversation. Alt.Latino host Jasmine Garsd says the movement has resonated with a lot of people and brought about change — a…
We are back with another of our popular Latin Roots series. This time Felix Contreras from NPR's Alt-Latino is here to explore the Ranchera. We'll hear old and new examples of this Mexican narrative form. The first song is by Jorge Negrete, one of the most famous Ranchera singers of all time. Ranchera literally translates to "from the ranch," and first began appearing during the Mexican Revolution around 1910. The lyrics were originally written about…
This installment is an encore presentation of Latin Roots #15 of World Cafe's Latin Roots music series is hosted by Chicago-based journalist Catalina Maria Johnson. She writes in Spanish and English for publications such as HOY, Revista Contratiempo, Gozamos and Nat Geo Music. and is a regular radio personality and hosts/producer for the radio program Beat Latino, which airs in Chicago, Mexico City and Berlin. In the late 19th century, Rumba started to emerge in…
In this 19th installment of World Cafe's Latin Roots series, Carlos Alfonso, one of the vocalists and principle songwriters of the Cuban progressive rock band Síntesis, talks with host David Dye about the relationships between Cuban music, Yoruba music (Yoruba are a people in current-day Nigeria) and Arara music (Arara being a culture in present-day Benin). Síntesis is cited as Cuba's first progressive rock band. The band's influences include groups such as Genesis, Pink Floyd…
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Latin Roots is made possible by a grant from the Wyncote Foundation.

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