Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

319

Arturo O'Farrill: Risa Negra

J Hunter By

Sign in to view read count
Pianist Arturo O'Farrill describes the music on Risa Negra as "Latin/jazz/funk/classical." By "accepted" standards, that means it won't fit into established musical pigeonholes; the Latin, funk, and jazz contingents won't go for it because of the classical angle, and the classical contingent won't go for it because ... well, there's something other than classical music involved. And that's why Risa is so terrific: instead of appealing to one audience, O'Farrill and his partners build a lush, rich meeting place where all these elements coalesce into a smart, complex, and (yes!) sexy musical hybrid.

"One Adam 12 Mambo" opens the way most of the pieces on Risa do, with O'Farrill in the clear—in this case, playing dissonant chords and seemingly disconnected runs in the style of Thelonious Monk. Then O'Farrill starts working over a jumping mambo figure, and the rest of the band pops up with a blasting Latin tune chock-full of complex movements and driving percussion. Altoist David Bixler tears it up while drummer Vince Cherico and percussionist Roland Guerrero mix it up, and O'Farrill counters busily over all of them. Then O'Farrill takes his turn in the spotlight with an exciting, passionate solo. He's feeling it and so is the band, as the energy and fun never fade.

O'Farrill says trumpeter and frequent collaborator Jim Seeley "keeps me grounded" and the same thing can be said of how Seeley's playing affects this set. His lines are bright, unmated and unerringly focused, demanding attention every time; his blowing solo on Bixler's "Goat Check" seems to inspire the altoist to get nasty, and the rhythm section to get even nastier. Seeley sums up the frustration inherent in "No Way Off" (O'Farrill's "tribute" to being trapped on a world cruise); and Seeley's own "Ceviche" stays open and inviting in the face of the piece's own complexities. Bixler's exploratory "The Darkness Is My Closest Friend" lets the whole band get dark and dramatic, while O'Farrill's angry "Blue State Blues"—written after the 2004 election—traverses dark territory, too, with major help from Ivan Renta's titanic tenor sax.

The classical element lies mainly in "Tabla Rasa," a mesmerizing two-movement suite commissioned by The Philadelphia Project. The first movement, "El Salon Cubano," evokes the days when jazz and Latin music lived side by side in turn-of-the-century Cuba, while "Tintal Tintal Deo" shows how all the aspects of jazz have roots that go through the hand drum, anchored by Indian tabla master Badal Roy. Though "Tabla" can be labyrinthine, moving through this maze is utterly fascinating. And O'Farrill's complex writing style is hereditary, because the intense "Crazy Chicken" was composed by 14-year-old Adam O'Farrill—who also plays a mean trumpet—and his changes are almost as intricate as his father's.

The liner notes bear a warning from O'Farrill: "If you want categorized jazz, bypass this product!" While that advice might stave off buyer disappointment, Risa Negra should be heard by all comers, if only to see how fantastic inclusive jazz can be.

Track Listing: One Ada 12 Mambo; Goat Check; Blue State Blues; The Darkness Is My Closest Friend; No Way Off; Crazy Chicken; Tabla Rasa : El Salon Cubano; Tabla Rasa: Tintal Tintal Deo, Ceviche; Alisonia.

Personnel: Arturo O'Farrill: piano, Fender Rhodes piano; Jim Seeley: trumpet; David Bixler: alto sax; Boris Koslov: acoustic and electric bass (1-5, 9, 10); Vince Cherico: drums (1-5, 7-10); Roland Guerrero: percussion; Ivan Renta: tenor sax (3, 6); Ricky Rodriguez: acoustic bass (3, 6-8); Alison Deane: piano (5, 7, 8); Badal Roy: tablas (8); Cecelia Tenconi: flute (7, 8); Heather Bixler: violin (8); Adam O'Farrill: trumpet (6); Zachary O'Farrill: drums (6).

Title: Risa Negra | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Zoho Music

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Interviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Familia: Tribute to Bebo & Chico

Familia: Tribute to...

Motéma Music
2017

buy
Offense of The Drum

Offense of The Drum

Motéma Music
2014

buy
Risa Negra

Risa Negra

Zoho Music
2009

buy

Related Articles

Read Hastings Jazz Collective/Shadow Dances Album Reviews
Hastings Jazz Collective/Shadow Dances
By Dan McClenaghan
May 21, 2019
Read Crowded Heart Album Reviews
Crowded Heart
By Nicholas F. Mondello
May 21, 2019
Read That's a Computer Album Reviews
That's a Computer
By Jerome Wilson
May 21, 2019
Read All I Do Is Bleed Album Reviews
All I Do Is Bleed
By Paul Naser
May 21, 2019
Read LE10 18-05 Album Reviews
LE10 18-05
By Karl Ackermann
May 20, 2019
Read Remembering Miles Album Reviews
Remembering Miles
By Dan McClenaghan
May 20, 2019
Read Merry Peers Album Reviews
Merry Peers
By Bruce Lindsay
May 20, 2019