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Arturo O'Farrill: Risa Negra

Joel Roberts By

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Pianist, composer and bandleader Arturo O'Farrill is Latin jazz royalty. The son of the legendary Chico O'Farrill, whose collaborations with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie helped create the genre (and whose best-known composition, "Manteca," is reason enough for his status as a jazz icon), Arturo has long been a major innovator in his own right, with a 2009 Grammy for the most recent recording with his AfroLatin Jazz Orchestra to show for it.

On Risa Negra, O'Farrill introduces his outstanding new sextet, along with numerous guests, including his wife, pianist Alison Deane, and his two teenage sons. For O'Farrill and likeminded masters like Gillespie and Paquito D'Rivera, Latin jazz is more than just clavé meets swing. It's a music without borders; while its roots are in Latin America, Africa, the Caribbean and the streets of New York, its reach is limitless. In that spirit, the musicians he includes on this date hail not just from the Spanish-speaking world but also from such unlikely locales as Russia, India and the American Midwest. Together, O'Farrill's exuberant ensemble mixes and matches numerous jazz and Latin traditions, plus a healthy dose of funk and blues, with plenty of unexpected twists and turns.

The opener, "One Adam 12 Mambo," for example, is a hard-charging swinger, featuring strong solos from trumpeter Jim Seeley and saxophonist David Bixler. "Goat Check" is pure, unadulterated '70s-era funk, propelled by O'Farrill's electric piano and Boris Kozlov's electric bass. Adam O'Farrill, just 14, contributes a fine, quite sophisticated composition, "Crazy Chicken," and plays some solid trumpet on the track, with his brother Zachary, 17, sitting in on drums. The album's centerpiece is the suite "Tabla Rasa," which begins quietly with O'Farrill's piano evoking long-ago Cuba, leading into a dance-friendly group groove, followed by, of all things, a second movement highlighting Indian tabla master Badal Roy.

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


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