NPR

'Global Village' Presents New Sounds From Spain

Barcelona-born guitarist José Luis Montón draws from classical influences, including Baroque music, in his flamenco compositions. (Courtesy of the artist)

DJ Betto Arcos returns to weekends on All Things Considered with more of the music he's been spinning on Global Village, his world-music program on KPFK in Los Angeles.

This week, Arcos selects some of his favorite new music coming out of Spain. His picks include a guitarist inspired by Baroque music, an all-female quartet with a flamenco flair, a ballad singer and a Galician bagpipe master. To hear his conversation with NPR's Jacki Lyden, click the audio link on this page.

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José Luis Montón

Lara Bello

Las Migas

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Carlos Núñez

Transcript

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden. And now, it's time for some music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SON & KETE")

LYDEN: And today, global music DJ Betto Arcos is back to share some of his favorite new music from Spain, including this track from flamenco guitarist Jose Luis Monton.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SON & KETE")

LYDEN: Betto is the host of "Global Village" on KPFK in Los Angeles where he joins us from our studios at NPR West. Betto, thanks for being here.

BETTO ARCOS: Oh, pleasure to be with you, Jacki.

LYDEN: Nice to start the New Year this way with you. So this song is really, really luscious. We're hearing this music by Jose Luis Monton. He has a new solo CD out, and this Barcelona-born flamenco guitarist is really wonderful to listen to.

ARCOS: Yeah. He's a really special guitarist because in this record, he brings flamenco to a different level of musicianship. And what he does in this particular tune is he takes one of the many palos - or standards - of playing flamenco, and he sort of deconstructs it. What you hear is this kind of very soulful, heartfelt approach to a typically very high energy tune but still keeping that energy in there.

He brings his music to almost a classical approach, almost like a Baroque-inspired type of music. And it just brings the soul of the music out.

LYDEN: Tell us the name of this particular track.

ARCOS: It's a tune called "Son & Kete." And sonikete in the flamenco language means to have rhythm, to have the energy to play the music. And this is what he gives us in this tune.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SON & KETE")

LYDEN: That's flamenco guitarist Jose Luis Monton. And, Betto, the next artist that you've brought is the female quartet - I really like this one - Las Migas. I really love the sounds of the women's voices, Betto, lots of soul, passion. Tell us more about them.

ARCOS: This group is composed of four women: one from Germany, one from France and two from Andalusia, from southern Spain, the cradle of flamenco. What they do in this particular case is they reinvent a traditional cante, a traditional tangos from Sevilla, from Seville, and they make it their own.

They add something that's unique to this particular group, the violin, but you also hear in this case the wonderful foot tapping of the singer in this band, Alba Carmona. Fantastic, fantastic singer.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LA GUITARRINA")

LYDEN: That's the Spanish flamenco quartet Las Migas. And my guest is Betto Arcos, host of KPFK's "Global Village" in Los Angeles, and we're listening to some of his favorite new songs from Spain. Now, here's another.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NANA DE CHOCOLATE Y LECHE")

LYDEN: Betto, this next song that you brought us is a change of tempo. Now, I might be wrong, but it almost sounds like something you could rock a cradle to.

ARCOS: It's interesting you say that because it's a song called "Nana de Chocolate y Leche" which means "Lullaby of Chocolate and Milk." It's a song by Lara Bello. And she says this is her favorite track in the record because it has to do with the cycle of life and death. She wrote this song around the time her dad passed away.

And the next day after he passed away, one of her good friends had two babies and one was darker than the other, hence the title chocolate and milk. It's a beautiful song. It's a song that's not much to do with Spain as it does with the Americas because it has a - an Afro-Peruvian dance rhythm here called lando.

And then the Columbian harpist, fantastic musician Edmar Castaneda plays this incredible solo, and it just grounds this tune down to the earth, Fantastic approach of mixing these two traditions together, the Peruvian and the Colombian, and of course, that very soulful, very Spanish singing of Lara Bello.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NANA DE CHOCOLATE Y LECHE")

LYDEN: "Nana de Chocolate y Leche." Really nice. Now, this next one, let's listen to "Jigs and Bulls."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JIGS AND BULLS")

LYDEN: Now, I was given this, Betto, and I thought that maybe there'd been a mistake, that someone had handed me a piece of Irish music.

(LAUGHTER)

ARCOS: You're right. This is the Galician bagpipe. Now, you know that Spain is not just about flamenco, right? This is music from another part of Spain. It's from Galicia in the northwest corner of Spain. It's music with ancient Celtic roots and modern Spanish energy.

And the man behind this tune is none other than the giant of Celtic music, Carlos Nunez. He is the master of Galicia's bagpipes, the gaita, as they are called in Spain. And, man, I have to say this is an incredible tune, not only because of the amazing playing of Carlos Nunez, but because he's bringing north and south together.

The music of Spain, you hear that in the guitar playing and the way in which he mixes the sort of flamenco rhythms here, but he's also mixing the Galician style of music called muneda. As you know, Galician music is very much about the spirit of the Earth. And this is what the song brings out. It's so heavenly.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JIGS AND BULLS")

LYDEN: You know, I've looked at his name, and I realized that what confused me was I have seen that man on Chieftains albums. He's played with Paddy Moloney and The Chieftains.

ARCOS: That's right. He's enormously popular across the rest of Spain and Europe. And, in fact, The Chieftains call him the seventh Chieftain. He's recorded with them so many times, including the Grammy-winning recording "Santiago" inspired by Galician music.

And I thought this is a great way to kind of close this segment because it just shows you the incredible range of musics in Spain. It's not just flamenco. It's not just Galician. It's everything. And this is a fantastic way to bring the culture of Spain together in one tune.

LYDEN: So that's Spanish piper Carlos Nunez, and he's just one of the many artists that you can hear on Betto Arcos' show "Global Village" on KPFK in Los Angeles. You know, I'm not going to have time to go to Spain any time very soon, but thank you for bringing it here to all of us. (Foreign language spoken)

ARCOS: My pleasure, Jacki. (Foreign language spoken)

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JIGS AND BULLS")

LYDEN: And for Sunday, that's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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