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Arturo O’Farrill & Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra at Town Hall

Arturo O’Farrill & Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra at Town Hall

Courtesy Ernest Barteldes

Arturo O' Farrill & Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra
With guests Hamilton de Holanda, Yamandu Costa and Cyro Baptista
Town Hall
New York, NY
June 7, 2024

Backed by the 18-piece Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, pianist Arturo O'Farrill started a celebration of Brazilian music with "Alafia," a Latin-tinged jazz tune before welcoming Cyro Baptista to the stage for a rendition of Hermeto Pascoal's "Bebe," a syncopated, northeastern Brazilian tune that showcased many of his homemade instruments that he masterfully often uses during his solo shows, including everyday saucers and inner tubes.

Playing on a mandolin, multi-instrumentalist Hamilton de Holanda joined the group for his fast-paced "Flying Chicken," a tune that had a lot of elements from "frevo," the very syncopated rhythm originating from the Brazilian state of Pernambuco, which sounded great in a Cuban-Latin groove as the musicians in the band adapted to the general feel of the song, including percussive instruments commonly used in Northeastern Brazil such as the "zabumba" and the "agogo."

This was not an evening dedicated to the tradition of Brazilian music, but instead it was about its contemporary and future. Those in the audience who might have expected nostalgia of eras past might have been disappointed, as Holanda and guitarist Yamandu Costa were all about looking forward, just as the bossa era musicians of their time were looking ahead, not backwards.

The evening's highlight was when de Holanda and Yamandu Costa did a duet without the orchestra, playing a couple of tunes that were not on the program, basically playing against each other with great improvisational flair. When that was over, O'Farrill and part of the orchestra (including Baptista) joined them for Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Wave," the sole widely known tune in the program—clearly a tribute to Brazil's music pioneer who helped change jazz as we know it today.

It was a hugely enjoyable evening. However, the program should have included more well-known songs. When they played Jobim's "Wave," there was a great reaction from the audience. The orchestra adapted to what would be unfamiliar territory, and both Holanda and Costa did the same to tunes that might have no connection to their respective cultures.

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