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 Aqustico vol 2 CD/LP/Track Review Aqustico vol 2
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Lattice CD/LP/Track Review Lattice
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Beginnings CD/LP/Track Review Beginnings
by David A. Orthmann
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Synchronic CD/LP/Track Review Synchronic
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Slægt CD/LP/Track Review Slægt
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 24, 2017
Read An Eye on the Future CD/LP/Track Review An Eye on the Future
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 24, 2017
Read "Isang" CD/LP/Track Review Isang
by Roger Farbey
Published: December 24, 2016
Read "Common Ground" CD/LP/Track Review Common Ground
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 16, 2017
Read "First Light" CD/LP/Track Review First Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 18, 2017
Read "Solstice" CD/LP/Track Review Solstice
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 25, 2016
Read "A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard" CD/LP/Track Review A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 4, 2017
Read "Luisa" CD/LP/Track Review Luisa
by Doug Collette
Published: July 1, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.