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It's never easy to replace a legend, especially when the legend happens also to be one's father. But Arturo O'Farrill, who doesn't want for courage or self-reliance, has seized the reins once held by his illustrious parent, the late Chico O'Farrill, and ridden the thoroughbred Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra into the winner's circle in the first-ever live recording from Jazz at Lincoln Center's state-of-the-art Frederick P. Rose Hall, an occasion that was truly Una Noche Inolvidable (an unforgettable night).
Commenting on the marvelous acoustics in Rose Hall, O'Farrill writes, "...all the musicians were smiling that night. And listening to this album, believe it or not, you can almost hear them smilingwhich is enchanting, as the most pleasurable Latin music is always presented with a smile. The concert was billed as "A Celebration of the Great Latin Jazz Vocalists, and the ALJO set the stage for two of the contemporary music scene's most celebrated soneros, Herman Olivera and Claudia Acuña. Olivera is showcased on seven of the album's thirteen tracks, Acuña on three, and there is one charming duet, "Encantado de la Vida. The ensemble opens with the buoyant "Havana Special and also goes it alone on pianist O'Farrill's fast-paced feature, "Pianarabatibiri.
As this was essentially the singers' night to shine, there are few other solos. Alto Bobby Porcelli is heard briefly on "Buscando la Melodia, trombonist Luis Bonilla on "Volver a los 17, O'Farrill on "Corazon Rebeldé. Aside from that, the spotlight rests squarely on Olivera and Acuña, neither of whom needs much help to captivate an audience. Even so, they are given unwavering support throughout by the ALJO, which has been scrupulously assembled by O'Farrill from among the New York City area's most accomplished musicians, including a handful who were members of his father's Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra.
Rose Hall lives up to its promise, as does the ALJO and its inimitable guests, Herman Olivera and Claudia Acuña, who together make this an unforgettable night for anyone who appreciates the bold and breathtaking panorama of Latin jazz.
Track Listing: Havana Special; Buscando la Melodia; Somos Novios; Estoy Como Nunca; Volver a los 17;
Encantado de la Vida; Enseńame Tu & Piensalo Bien; Pianarabatibiri; Corazon Rebeldé; La Ley
del Guaguanco; Mi Amor Fugaz; Don Fulano; Avisale à Mi Contrario (59:55).
Personnel: Arturo OFarrill: music director, piano; Michael Philip Mossman, John Walsh, Michael
Rodriguez, Joe Magnarelli: trumpet; Bobby Porcelli, Erica vonKleist, Mario Rivera, Ivan Renta,
Pablo Calogero: reeds; Reynaldo Jorge, Luis Bonilla, Noah Bless: trombone; Douglas
Purviance: bass trombone; Ruben Rodriguez: bass; Vince Cherico: drums; Milton Cardona,
Joseph Gonzalez: percussion; Herman Olivera, Claudia Acuńa: vocals.
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.