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. He 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 2001, Niño (along with vocalist Dwight Trible and arranger/multi-instrumentalist Miguel Atwood-Ferguson) founded Build an Ark, an intergalactic jazz ensemble dedicated to spreading peace and positivity after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Encompassing dozens of members from several generations, the group included Dexter Story, Tribe Records founder Phil Ranelin, Derf Reklaw (of the Pharaohs), and numerous others. The collective released four well-received albums on Kindred Spirits. Niño and Story also worked together as the Life Force Trio, collaborating with Trible on his album Love Is the Answer (released by Ninja Tune in 2005) as well as Living Room (Plug Research, 2006). Niño was also a part of jazz trio Hu Vibrational, along with percussionists Adam Rudolph and Hamid Drake. In hip-hop and electronic music circles, Niño became best known for AmmonContact, his duo with Fabian Ammon. The pair released four albums and several EPs of abstract, primarily instrumental hip-hop on labels like Plug Research, Ninja Tune, and Eastern Developments.
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. ~ Paul Simpson