A New World Of Expression: Latino Identity Through Music

Jun 26, 2014

It can get so busy at Alt.Latino that we hardly have a chance to put down our earbuds and notice the little things in life — like our show's fourth cumpleaños on June 15. That's four years of scouting out great new music and bands in the Latin Alternative scene, not to mention in-depth conversations with some of the most influential Latino/a artists in film, literature and, of course, music.

We've particularly enjoyed the platicas with listeners on our website and in social media. Journalists are only as good as their sources, and you've turned us on to so much great music that the show couldn't be what it is without your help and input.

The cultural conversations you provide are often as frank and opinionated as any you'd hear around your abuelita's kitchen table. As in any healthy family discussion of important matters, differences of opinion in Alt.Latino's familia are respected and encouraged as we grapple with this multicultural Latino identity.

If you really want to know how the Latino community in this country is changing, just listen to this music. Musicians are ignoring the boundaries and rules of established genres to create amazing cultural mashups — and those mashups reflect real-life trends like blended families, hyphenated family names and children with more than one culture to celebrate.

I've told Alt.Latino co-host Jasmine Garsd many times that doing the show for the last four years has recaptured the intensity of my initial music explorations. I've been a more-than-casual listener of music since the early '70s — a fertile period in this country when bands like The Allman Brothers were blurring the lines between rock and jazz, Weather Report and Return to Forever were expanding the vocabulary of jazz, and Fania Records was redefining Afro-Caribbean music. Imagine my excitement, at 14, as I discovered new musical worlds almost every day.

In some ways, these last four years have been even more exciting. I've come across musicians who create sounds that were always part of our collective musical vocabulary — and been thrilled to hear them rearranged in ways that blow my mind.

This week's show is a perfect example of that, with Latino musicians checking in from places as far afield as Winnipeg and Buenos Aires. Listen to how they challenge expectations while creating a new world of expression, all while reflecting the constant evolution of Latino identity.

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