[3 Jan 2014 ]
Pushing a Tradition Forward, Bandolim in Hand

Originally aired on NPR
Alfredo Viana was one of the superstars of the Brazilian musical style known as choro. The flautist and saxophonist, better known by the nickname Pixinguinha, pushed the boundaries of choro by incorporating jazz and ragtime into his compositions.
Hamilton de Holanda explores that connection on the new album Mundo de Pixinguinha — that is, “The World of Pixinguinha.” The Brazilian recorded with Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés, French accordionist Richard Galliano, and American trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.
“As I’ve traveled around the world in the past 10 years, I became friends with a few musicians, …

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[29 Jan 2014 ]

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Originally aired on PRI’s “The World”
I’d like to tell you about a new recording called, RagaSON.
It’s a new collaboration between Los Angeles-based sitar player Paul Livingstone and one of the great figures of son jarocho from Veracruz, Mexico, Ramon Guitierrez.
There is an interaction between the sitar and the guitar in “Bhairavi/Las Poblanas” where these two very different instruments from two very different cultures find a common ground.
For more than a decade, Livingstone has been traveling to Mexico to perform and teach Indian music to Mexican musicians. But he’s also been learning about …

PRI's The World »

[11 Dec 2013 ]

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Originally aired on PRI’s “The World”
Edgar Quintero was born in Los Angeles, the son of Mexican immigrants. At 28, he’s now one of the most successful writers of narco corridos — Mexican folk ballads about the drug war.
“I sing about it, I talk about it, but to a certain point where I don’t get involved,” Quintero says. “They are my clients. I get all sorts of people that come up to me and say, ‘Can you write a song for me?’ Who am I …

PRI's The World »

[29 Nov 2013 ]

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Originally aired on PRI’s “The World”
One evening when I was hanging out with the samba singer and composer Leandro Fregonesi, he asked me to name some of my favorite Brazilian artists.
I rattled off a few names. But when I came to Luiz Gonzaga, he stopped me and said, “If you like Luiz Gonzaga, then you have to go see this amazing musical about his life.”
So on the last afternoon I was in Rio, Fregonesi’s mother took me to the working class neighborhood called Ramos …

NPR »

[9 Nov 2013 ]
Brazil’s 91-Year-Old Leading Lady Still Shines

Originally aired on NPR
At 91 years old, actress and singer Bibí Ferreira is still performing to packed houses in her native Brazil and beyond. Her fans range from superstar soccer player Pelé to Liza Minnelli. Many consider her the single most important theater actor in Brazil.
Bibí, as Brazilians fondly call her, has been performing on stage and television for most of her life. Her father, Procópio Ferreira, was Brazil’s most respected stage actor when he invited his teenage daughter to join his company.
“When I was still 17, I opened with my father …

PRI's The World »

[7 Nov 2013 ]
Rio de Janeiro Is a City Rich with Musical Traditions

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Originally aired on PRI’s “The World”
Bibi Ferreira is the main reason I went to Rio de Janeiro.
She’s Brazil’s Grande Dame of theater — especially musicals. At 91 years old, she’s recently been doing a show about the life of France’s Edith Piaf, called “Bibi Canta e Conta Piaf.” So I went to see her perform.
What a voice! Bibi’s bringing her show to the Town Hall in New York City on Nov. 13.
In addition to hearing Ferreira, I took in more than 10 samba shows in Brazil. Samba …