May 5, 2014
One of the highlights of this year's Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival will be the appearance of Brooklyn native Arturo O'Farrill and his Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra. Arturo is following in the footsteps of his father, the late Chico O'Farrill, presenting the finest in that great melting pot of jazz music, Latin jazz.
O'Farrill's latest CD, The Offense of the Drum, is a difference maker, refusing to fall into the category of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Latin music by bringing in hip-hop, turn-tablism, and R&B. This crack band goes effortlessly from traditional Latin sounds to New Orleans Second Line ("Iko Iko") to a dramatic spoken word history lesson ("They Came"). The Offense of the Drum may well be that rare link between musical generations and cultures that is needed to bring new listeners into jazz.
O’Farrill created the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO) for Jazz at Lincoln Center due in part to a large and very demanding body of substantial music in the genre of Latin and Afro Cuban Jazz that deserves to be much more widely appreciated and experienced by the general jazz audience. Since then the ensemble has been nominated for three Grammy awards.
Educated at the Manhattan School of Music, Brooklyn College Conservatory (from which he received the Distinguished Alumnus Medal), and the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, Mr. O’Farrill played piano with the Carla Bley Big Band from 1979 through 1983. He then went on to develop as a solo performer with a wide spectrum of artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Steve Turre, Freddy Cole, The Fort Apache Band, Lester Bowie, Wynton Marsalis, and Harry Belafonte. A great believer in education, he is currently on the faculty of the Brooklyn College Conservatory, and will teach at the University of Massachusetts’ famed “Jazz in July” student program July 14-18.
Podcast 425 is my conversation with Arturo, and we discuss his desire to integrate world sounds into jazz, his desires to break boundaries as he does, and his plans to return to Cuba in December on a new project. Musical selections include three tracks from The Offense of the Drum (“Alma Vacía”, “The Mad Hatter”, and “Iko Iko”) and “Battleship” a tune recorded during Arturo’s tenure as a member of the Carla Bley Band, from I Hate to Sing.
The Apollo Theater presents Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra with Rudresh Mahanthappa, Freddy “Huevito” Lobaton, Café and Randy Weston with Billy Harper and Lewis Nash. Apollo Theater - Main Stage. $10, $35-$45. Saturday, May 10, 2014 8:00 pm