Latino USA

Archive for the ‘Arts’ Category

Novalima

The nine-piece alternative Afro-Peruvian ensemble Novalima was one of the big attractions at the 12th annual LAMC. Blending soul, reggae, and house with traditional Afro-Peruvian music, they simply make you want to move. Founded in 2001, with its members scattered on three continents, the band gathered in the only place they call home—Peru. Soon after, they were bridging cultures not only in their native country, but around the world. Their latest album “Coba Coba” received a Latin Grammy Nomination for best Alternative album.

Maria Hinojosa sat down with two of the founding members – Ramon Perez Prieto and Rael Morales.


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Arturo O’Farrill and The Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra

Chico O’Farrill was one of Latin jazz music’s most creative voices. From his masterwork “The Afro Cuban jazz Suite” for Charlie Parker, through his work as an arranger for Dizzy Gillespie and others, to his critically acclaimed “Heart of a Legend” album released in his 70′s, Chico’s compositions and arrangements have been recognized as among the most innovative in Latin Jazz.

After 15 years of Sunday night performances in New York’s storied Birdland Jazz Club, the Chico O’Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra ended its run last week, almost 10 years to the date of Chico O’Farrill’s passing. His son, Grammy Award-winning pianist and composer, Arturo, who had been leading the band, says the burden of running two orchestras, a non profit arts organization and his own smaller ensembles – not to mention his role as father and husband – made the choice inevitable.

Maria Hinojosa talks to Arturo about his father’s legacy, his own musical explorations, and what’s next now that his Sunday nights are free again.
Produced by David Cruz.


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Tats Cru

The streets of the South Bronx in the 1980s and 90s were littered with abandoned buildings, drug dealers, prostitutes and people were being killed everyday as a part of the neighborhood’s off the charts murder rate. It was out of that reality that a group of young Puerto Rican graffiti artists got their start tagging subways. Inspired by their passion for painting, their art soon evolved and they started painting colorful memorial walls throughout the neighborhood in memory of kids who had fallen victim to street violence. Maria Hinojosa first interviewed the artists of Tats Cru 17 years ago when you could find memorial walls on nearly every street corner in the neighborhood.

Now nearly 20 years later, she’s gone back to interview Nicer one of the founding artists from Tats Cru to talk about the issue of gun violence and how much the problem of street violence has changed.
Produced by Yasmeen Qureshi

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An Ode to Aura

Many spend a lifetime in search of their true soul mate and ultimate love –passionate and everlasting. Very few can say they’ve experienced it. Internationally acclaimed Guatemalan – American author and journalist Francisco Goldman is one of the lucky ones, but his love story has a tragic ending.

Goldman’s soul mate was the beautiful and talented Mexican writer, Aura Estrada. They got married in the summer of 2005, but less than two years later she died in a random swimming accident at their favorite beach in Mexico.

To cope with his grief, Goldman began to write. In his critically acclaimed novel Say Her Name, he chronicles their love story and deep spiritual connection through the prism of his bitter-sweet memories that at times blur the line between reality and fiction.

Maria Hinojosa recently sat down with Goldman to talk about his book and his life with Aura and after her death.


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Cri Cri

Francisco Gabilondo Soler is one of Mexico’s most famous composers and performers but most don’t know him by this name. To the Latino world he is best known as Cri Cri: El Grillito Cantor (The Little Singing Cricket) who wears a tuxedo and plays a violin made out of a leaf with a twig for a bow.

Cri Cri was first heard on the Mexican airwaves in 1934 and for decades appeared in animation and on radio, educating kids through music. Reporter Sandina Robbins has this tribute to El Cri Cri.


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Jimmy Smits

Jimmy Smits is a Broadway, TV and Movie actor, an Emmy-award winner, an Activist, a father and an “Aspirante.” This last title comes from “ASPIRA,” a nonprofit organization dedicated to Latino Youth founded by Dr. Antonia Pantoja and a group of Puerto Rican community leaders in 1961. The organization has helped over half a million young Latinos, also known as Aspirantes, with career and college counseling, financial aid and other assistance.  Currently 95% of them graduate high school and 92% continue on to college.

Last week ASPIRA celebrated its 50th Anniversary and honored some if its most successful Aspirantes, including Jimmy Smits who was recognized for his on and off screen accomplishments. Smits was born in Brooklyn, NY, moved to Puerto Rico when he was nine and lived there for a few years, became a father at the age of 18 but continued pursuing his dreams and got his Master’s degree from Cornell. Today he is one of the most recognized Latino actors and is a co-founder of another organization dedicated to help Latino youth follow their dreams — the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts (NHFA). Maria Hinojosa sat down with Smits to talk about his career, his activism and how ASPIRA has touched his life.

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Dafnis Prieto

Cuban drummer, composer and educator Dafnis Prieto arrived in New York in 1999 and has since spent more than a decade influencing Latin and jazz music. Prieto has been described as the hottest new drummer in the New York Jazz scene in the last decade. He talks to Maria Hinojosa about the fusion of Cuban rhythms with Jazz.

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Dafnis Prieto Si o Si Quartet at MOMA 2009

Video Posted by Dafnison.

Miguel Zenón

2010 Grammy Nominee for Best Latin Jazz Album and Best Improvised Solo, alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon was born and raised in San Juan. He got his Masters from the Manhattan School of Music and is a dual MacArthur Genius and Guggenheim Grant recipient. His style is heavily influenced by the sounds of his native Puerto Rico and it’s captured in his latest release called Esta Plena, which celebrates el periodico cantado, the “sung newspaper” of Puerto Rico, accompanied by the hand-drum called panderos. Maria Hinojosa sat down with Zenon to talk about Plena, a typical music style in Puerto Rico and how he melds it with jazz in new ways.

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The Miguel Zenon Quartet plays “¿Que Sera de Puerto Rico?”

Posted by MiguelZenon


Edmar Castañeda

You may not think that playing the harp fits the machismo stereotype of Latin American men…but just take one listen to Edmar Castañeda’s brilliant work and all you’ll be thinking about is the music. Colombian-born Castañeda performs solo, leads a trio, and plays in a quartet lead by Andrea Tierra (who also happens to be his wife.) The legendary Paquito D’Rivera said that Castañeda “has taken his harp out of the shadow to become one of the most original musicians from the Big Apple.”

Maria Hinojosa talks to Edmar about his integration into the jazz scene of New York and how his background affects his music today.

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John Leguizamo, The Ghetto Klown

John Leguizamo is one of the most recognizable Latino Actors in American movies. But making it big in Hollywood didn’t come easily, especially for an immigrant kid from Queens. He says he always felt like an outsider but he was determined to make his mark and found humor was a strong unifying force that helped him bridge cultures.


To break out of the stereotypical roles he was often offered as a Latino, over the years he created a series of one-man shows on and off-Broadway — shows that have won him Emmy and Obie awards. In his latest one-man show Ghetto Klown, Leguizamo candidly reveals his rocky career path, and the personal toll it has taken.

Told with a lot of humor and great energy, Leguizamo bears his soul on stage and takes the audience on the very personal and revealing journey of his life and career. Maria Hinojosa sat down with Leguizamo to talk about his play, his life and the risks he’s taken revealing the contours of his life, live, on stage.

Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

John Leguizamo’s GHETTO KLOWN is directed by Academy Award Winner Fisher Stevens and is presented by WestBeth Entertainment, Daveed D. Frazier and Nelle Nugent. Effective May 16, Ghetto Klown will play Monday – Saturday at the Broadway’s Lyceum Theatre (149 West 45th Street) with extended performances through July 10. For detailed information and tickets, visit the official show website GhettoKlownonBroadway.com and watch selected clips below.


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