Artist Profiles: Arturo O’Farrill

Arturo O’Farrill

Arturo O’Farrill, born June 22, 1960 in Mexico City, is the son of renowned Cuban composer Chico O’Farrill (whose works have been recorded by Benny Goodman, Stan Kenton, Dizzy Gillespie, the Machito Orchestra, and Mario Bauza).

Arturo pursued studies at the Manhattan School of Music and the Brooklyn College Conservatory, and played in the award-winning jazz band at New York’s High School of Music and Art with future luminaries Marcus Miller and Omar Hakim. He then went on to develop as a solo performer and an ensemble member on recordings and performances with a spectrum of artists: Wynton Marsalis, Dizzy Gillespie, Steve Turre, Noel Pointer, Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band. In 1987 he became musical director for Harry Belafonte. He currently directs the Chico O’Farrill’s Afro-Cuban Jazz Big Band.

Arturo O’Farrill leads the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra. the ensemble exemplifies the best that Latin jazz culture offers: rich tradition through music and timeless appeal around the world. Latin jazz is a general term given to music that combines rhythms from African and Latin American countries with jazz harmonies from the United States. Afro-Cuban Latin jazz includes salsa, merengue, songo, son, mambo, bolero, charanga and cha cha cha. Originated in the 1940s, Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Kenton began to combine the rhythm section and structure of Afro-Cuban music. Latin jazz employs straight rhythm, not swung rhythm and the conga, timbale, guiro and claves are used in this unique music.

O’Farrill also directs the band that preserves much of his father’s music, the Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra. He has performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Fort Apache Band, Carla Bley, Lester Bowie, Harry Belafonte, Freddy Cole and Wynton Marsalis. The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra became a resident orchestra at Jazz at Lincoln Center in 2002 and has toured internationally, bringing the rhythms and heat of Latin jazz to places as far away as China. Performing the very best of traditional compositions in the canon of the Afro-Latin genre, the large ensemble commissions new work and leads education events when on the road and at Frederick P. Rose Hall. Ultimately, it seeks to provide an opportunity for a new generation of composers, arrangers and instrumentalists to further explore and define the music.

Discography:

Blood Lines (Milestone, 1999)
A Night in Tunisia (32 Jazz, 2000)
Cumana (Pony Canyon, 2004)
Live in Brooklyn (Zoho, 2005)
Una Noche Inolvidable (Palmetto, 2005)
Song for Chico (Zoho, 2008)
Risa Negra (Zoho, 2009)
40 Acres and a Burro (Zoho, 2011)
The Noguchi Sessions (Zoho, 2012)
Final Night at Birdland (Zoho, 2013)
The Offense of the Drum (Motéma, 2014)
Cuba: The Conversation Continues (Motéma, 2015)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.

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