Based in the Los Angeles area, Carlos Niño is a producer, composer, arranger, and DJ with an extensive body of spiritually minded work that melds jazz, hip-hop, new age, soul, and numerous other styles.
His music blends orchestral arrangements and acoustic instruments with cutting-edge avant-garde production techniques, and it always maintains a positive, hopeful state of mind. His notable group projects include jazz ensembles Build an Ark and Hu Vibrational as well as the experimental hip-hop duo AmmonContact. Under his own name, he's released notable recordings with Miguel Atwood-Ferguson (beginning with 2007's Fill the Heart Shaped Cup) and an extensive series of albums billed to Carlos Niño & Friends, with releases such as 2016's Flutes, Echoes, It's All Happening! and 2020's Actual Presence featuring guests such as Laraaji, Iasos, Madlib, and Deantoni Parks.
Niño first became known as a radio DJ, hosting an eclectic program titled All at One Point on listener-supported FM station KPFK. After a brief hiatus, the program was relaunched in 1999 as Spaceways Radio, with more of a cosmic, reflective focus. Hundreds of notable musicians made guest appearances on the show, ranging from spiritual jazz pioneers like Pharoah Sanders to hip-hop legends such as A Tribe Called Quest, in addition to Los Angeles beat scene producers including Flying Lotus and Madlib. Niño also became a regular contributor to online radio station Dublab.
In 2007, Carlos Niño and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson collaborated on an intense, beautiful album titled Fill the Heart Shaped Cup, which was released by Alpha Pup. The following year, Niño and MC Lil Sci debuted their conscious hip-hop project What's the Science? with a full-length titled Elevation on Shaman Work. 2009 saw the release of La Voz Sabia de los Cosmos, the debut full-length by Carlos y Gaby, Niño's duo with Build an Ark vocalist Gaby Hernandez. Also in 2009, Plug Research and Kindred Spirits issued High with a Little Help From, the first album credited to Carlos Niño & Friends. Additionally, Niño and Atwood-Ferguson collaborated on Suite for Ma Dukes, a four-song EP of orchestral arrangements of compositions by the late hip-hop producer J Dilla.
2010 saw the release of the self-titled debut album by Turn on the Sunlight, an acoustic folk collaboration between Niño, Hirotaka Makino, and Jesse Peterson. The second Carlos Niño & Friends album, Aquariusssssss, appeared on Porter Records in 2012, including contributions from many previous collaborators as well as new age pioneer Iasos and electronic artists Daedelus and Dntel. Turn on the Sunlight's Remixes/Collaborations also appeared in 2012, followed by their second proper full-length, New Day, in 2013. Niño & Friends' Aurorasmushroomtenderness appeared in 2014, followed by 2016's Flutes, Echoes, It's All Happening! on Matthewdavid's Leaving Records.
In 2017, Niño returned with another Niño & Friends effort, Going Home, which included contributions from Jamire Williams, Deantoni Parks, SK Kakraba, Iasos, and others. Live at the World Stage was issued as a limited cassette in early 2018. Raindiance/You're Suspended, a limited double LP with Sam Gendel, was hand-assembled and released during a performance in late 2018, then issued digitally the following February. Bliss on Dear Oneness, another collaboration-filled, improvisation-heavy release, appeared in 2019. Nino & Friends' Actual Presence was released in 2020, and International Anthem issued Chicago Waves, an improvised set with Atwood-Ferguson recorded at Co-Prosperity Sphere in Chicago. ~ Paul Simpson, Rovi