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Arturo O'Farrill: Risa Negra

Mark Corroto By

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With his 2009 Grammy award in hand, pianist Arturo O'Farrill can finally step out from the very long shadow cast by his father, Afro-Cuban band leader Chico O'Farrill. On Risa Negra, it can be seen how quickly Arturo's children, trumpeter Adam O'Farrill (age 14) and drummer Zachary O'Farrill (age 17)—featured on one track—begin to peer out from the safety of dad's protective gaze.

This is a family album, it's just that O'Farrill's extended family heard here come from the Caribbean, Midwest, Latin America, Russia, and India. As was heard with his father's generation, Latin jazz has the ability to swallow multinational amounts of music and make it fit into its clave. This is best demonstrated by "Table Rasa," a two-movement suite that begins el salon Cuba, with a simple parlor piano piece that evolves into a tasty Latin groove, as trumpeter Jim Seeley trades solos with flutist Cecilia Tenconi. The suite continues with "Tintal Tintal Deo" morphing into an Indian tabla feature for guest Badal Roy. The former Miles Davis alum delivers a konakol (Indian vocal percussion) solo before the band returns with a melting pot of Afro-Cuban jazz fusion.

The recording transcends classifiable music genres. Like great jazz visionaries, O'Farrill's appetite is large. The horns are concise, and chocked full of swing, evidenced by Seeley and saxophonist David Bixler tearing through "One Adam 12 Mambo" and "Ceviche." The band hits upon a bit of funk, with O'Farrill on electric piano and Boris Kozlov sporting electric bass, on "Goat Check," a hip piece of roadhouse music. Kozlov sticks with electric and trades solos with acoustic bassist Ricardo Rodriguez on "Blue State Blues," another certain crowd favorite that finds each player dropping musical quotes that become infectious, as the horn players drop nods to their swinging jazz ancestors.

Adam O'Farrill displays the family genetics on his "Crazy Chicken." The five-minute piece features a complex melody that slows down, allowing him to display some very nice playing with his brother Zachary accenting time on the skins.

Father Arturo wraps the disc up with a solo piece, "Alisonia," a honeyed and thoughtfully reflective song that displays his more mellow side. Not unlike something that could be mistaken for a Bill Evans composition, it is a fitting end to a spirited recording.


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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