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Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra - Puerto Rico, More Than Salsa. November 6th, 2010 @ Symphony Space.


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Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra explore new and existing trends in Puerto Rican music. Special attention is paid to folkloric and traditional forms, especially Bomba and Plena. The traditional instruments of Bomba and Plena are employed and special guest percussionists are invited. Repertoire will highlight the works of William Cepeda with arrangements by Michael Webster, William Cepeda,Papo Vazquez, and others. Highlights will include Mombrogo, Iron Jungle, and new works. Special guests include Miguel Zenon and William Cepeda. It will be a gorgeous evening of recognizing the indigenous and brilliant music of Puerto Rico!

“Mr. O'Farrill is a magnificent player sharp, splashy, and driving." —The New York Times

“The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra sounds great with precision brass and saxophone work... a warm, cohesive sound..." —The New York Times

“This is the finest band I have ever performed with in my life. They make me feel as if I have returned to Cuba." —Bebo Valdés

ARTURO O'FARRILL (Music Director, Piano), pianist, composer, educator and winner of the Latin Jazz USA Outstanding Achievement Award for 2003, was born in Mexico and grew up in New York City. In 2002, Mr. O'Farrill created the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra 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. His debut album with the Orchestra “Una Noche Inolvidable" earned a GRAMMY award nomination in 2006.

Educated at the Manhattan School of Music, Brooklyn College Conservatory, 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.

In 1995 Mr. O'Farrill agreed to direct the band that preserved much of his father's music, Chico O'Farrill's Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, which has been in residence at Birdland, New York City's famed nightclub, for the past 13 years, as well as performing throughout the world as a solo artist and with his smaller groups.

Besides recording eight albums as a leader for Milestone Records, 32 Jazz, Zoho and M & I (Bloodlines, A Night in Tunisia, Cumana Bop, Live in Brooklyn, The Jim Seeley/Arturo O'Farrill Quintet, Song for Chico with the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra and In These Shoes, with Claudia Acuna), Mr. O'Farrill has appeared on numerous records including the Grammy-nominated Heart of a Legend, Carambola, and the soundtrack to the critically acclaimed movie Calle 54. Mr. O'Farrill was a special guest soloist at three landmark Jazz at Lincoln Center concerts— Afro-Cuban Jazz: Chico O'Farrill's Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, November 1995; Con Alma: The Latin Tinge in Big Band Jazz, September 1998; and the 2001 Jazz at Lincoln Center Gala: The Spirit of Tito Puente, November 2001. In the Spring and Fall of 2002, he was also the featured artist in Jazz at Lincoln Center's Jazz in the Schools Tour, when he led a Latin jazz quintet for more than 50 educational performances that reached over 10,000 students in NYC metropolitan area schools.

As an educator, he has taught master classes, seminars and workshops throughout the world for students and teachers of all levels. Recently, Mr. O'Farrill received the Distinguished Alumnus Medal from Brooklyn College and served as the Alan and Wendy Pesky Artist in Residence at Lafayette College. In the summer of 2007, Mr. O'Farrill served as Visiting Artist at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and in 2007-2008 was Assistant Professor of Jazz at The University of Massachussetts in Amherst. Currently, he Is an Assistant Professor at SUNY Purchase.

Throughout the past few years, Mr. O'Farrill has toured. the U.S., Europe and Asia, and in the Spring of 2006, led the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra on a tour of Mexico. In 2007, the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra left Jazz at Lincoln Center to pursue its own educational and performance opportunities. To that end, the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance was created as a not for profit organization dedicated to the preservation , furthering, and education of Afro Latin jazz.

Since their departure from Jazz at Lincoln Center, the orchestra has performed in the prestigious Megaron Concert Hall in Athens, The Bern Jazz Festival, The Rialto Concert Hall in Atlanta and with their new performance partner New York's acclaimed Symphony Space they have presented their own concert season ending 2008 with Musica Nueva their celebration of latin jazz throughout the Americas. They have also established a residency in the schools program with weekly private and ensemble classes for inner city kids.

Their recently released CD “Song for Chico" (Zoho Records) has received unanimous critical acclaim and in February, 2009, won the GRAMMY for Best Latin Jazz Album of the Year. In the 2009-2010 season, the band will be performing their third season of concerts in their new home, Symphony Space. A recognized composer, Mr. O'Farrill has received commissions from Meet the Composer, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Philadelphia Music Project, and The Big Apple Circus. He has also composed music for films including Hollywoodland and Salud. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, classical pianist Alison Deane, and their sons, Zachary and Adam, both accomplished musicians.

The Orchestra

The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, led by pianist and director Arturo O'Farrill is composed of 18 soloists who play classics of the Afro-Latin tradition. It exemplifies the best that Latin jazz culture offers: rich tradition through music and timeless appeal around the world. Latin jazz is a general term given to music that combines rhythms from African and Latin American countries with jazz harmonies from the United States. Afro-Cuban Latin jazz includes salsa, merengue, songo, son, mambo, bolero, charanga, and cha cha cha. Originated in the 1940's when Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Kenton began to combine the rhythm section and structure of Afro-Cuban music, Latin jazz employs straight rhythm, not swung rhythm. The congo, timbale, guiro and claves are used in this unique music.

The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra became a resident orchestra at Jazz at Lincoln Center in 2002 and toured internationally, bringing the rhythms and heat of Latin jazz to places as far away as China. In June 2007, the Orchestra left Jazz at Lincoln Center to pursue its own educational and performance opportunities and is delighted with its new home at Symphony Space. Performing the very best of traditional compositions in the canon of the Afro-Latin genre, the large ensemble commissions new work and leads education events. In 2006, the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra received a Grammy nomination for their debut album Una Noche Inolvidable on Palmetto Records. Ultimately, the Orchestra seeks to provide an opportunity for a new generation of composers, arrangers, and instrumentalists to further explore and define the music. On Song for Chico, their last CD which was a Grammy Winner—the ALJO brilliantly re-interprets Latin big band classics of the 1920s to the '60s such as “Caravan" and “Cuban Blues" and premieres cutting edge new repertoire such as Arturo O'Farrill's “Such Love" and Dafnis Prieto's “Song for Chico."

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