Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

2

Arturo O'Farrill: The Noguchi Sessions

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Pianist Arturo O'Farrill has been around the block a few times and is rightly respected for his role in elevating the Latin big band genre, but he has shied away from the idea of recording a solo piano album for a long time. In the fall of 2011, O'Farrill found himself sitting behind a Steinway piano in a museum, ready to finally take the plunge, but he wasn't really alone as he placed his fingers on the keys. He was surrounded by the art-work and creations of Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi, whose work served as an inspiration for this project.

Noguchi, who worked as a "sculptor, painter, draftsman, and designer of everything from household goods to large public spaces," never bought into the idea of labeling or strict categorization. His work reflected his own personality and he found comfort in juxtaposing the refined against the raw. O'Farrill found much to admire in both of those ideals, which manifest themselves in this music.

Rhapsodic passages, rubato-laden episodes and racing runs intersect frequently during this journey, as O'Farill performs original music and explores the work of such odd bedfellows as Ernesto Lecuona, Stephen Foster, Randy Weston and Charles Mingus. Several of the early original entries on the program, like "The Sun At Midnight" and "In Whom," come off as queries of musical curiosity, as O'Farrill searches for answers embedded within the keys. This music uses uncertainty as a communicative device, but O'Farrill is more emphatic in other places. He proudly displays his Cuban roots on "Siboney," mines Weston's "Little Niles" for all it's worth and puts on his best display of parlor playing on Mingus' "Jelly Roll."

While O'Farrill's ever-moving work holds interest throughout, he saves the best for last. The flawless foursome that closes out the album—the gliding "Mi Vida," spicy "Obsesion," ruminative-turned-spirited "Oh Danny Boy" and jovial "Jelly Roll"—demonstrates the scope of his talent as a solo pianist. O'Farrill need not have waited to so long to work in this fashion. It appears to suit him well.

Track Listing: The Sun At Midnight; O' Susanna; In Whom; Little Niles; The Delusion Of The Greedy; Siboney; Alisonia; Once I Had A Secret Meditation; Mi Vida; Obsesion; Oh Danny Boy; Jelly Roll.

Personnel: Arturo O'Farrill: piano.

Title: The Noguchi Sessions | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Zoho Music

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read OR CD/LP/Track Review OR
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 18, 2018
Read The Songbook Project CD/LP/Track Review The Songbook Project
by Don Phipps
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Solo a Genova CD/LP/Track Review Solo a Genova
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Reaching Out CD/LP/Track Review Reaching Out
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Satoko Fujii Solo CD/LP/Track Review Satoko Fujii Solo
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 17, 2018
Read when the shade is stretched CD/LP/Track Review when the shade is stretched
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 17, 2018
Read "Oh, Clara!" CD/LP/Track Review Oh, Clara!
by Jim Olin
Published: September 3, 2017
Read "Shifting Borders" CD/LP/Track Review Shifting Borders
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 5, 2017
Read "The Grateful Dead 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition" CD/LP/Track Review The Grateful Dead 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: February 4, 2017
Read "The Singles" CD/LP/Track Review The Singles
by Doug Collette
Published: October 1, 2017
Read "avantNOIR" CD/LP/Track Review avantNOIR
by Nicola Negri
Published: March 29, 2017
Read "Hesitantly Pleasant" CD/LP/Track Review Hesitantly Pleasant
by John Sharpe
Published: November 12, 2017