Arturo O’Farrill places piano within the foreground on ‘Legacies’ : NPR

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Three generations of O’Farrills are represented on this new album, reminding us what custom is at coronary heart: our ongoing dialog with those that got here earlier than us, and those that come after.



TERRY GROSS, HOST:

That is FRESH AIR. Cuban Mexican American musician Arturo O’Farrill has led New York’s acclaimed Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra for twenty years. Earlier than that, he’d run the Latin huge band of his composer father, Chico O’Farrill. Again when Arturo began out, he simply needed to be a jazz pianist. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says his new album places piano within the foreground.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARTURO O’FARRILL’S “OBSESSION”)

KEVIN WHITEHEAD, BYLINE: Arturo O’Farrill on the 1935 tune, “Obsession,” written by the nice Puerto Rican bolero composer Pedro Flores whereas he was residing in New York. On one degree, O’Farrill’s new trio and solo album “Legacies” is about intersections of jazz and Latin Caribbean musics that attain again almost a century. Like so many earlier than him, the pianist steers between formal Cuban dance syncopations and jazz’s spontaneous liberties with a beat.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARTURO O’FARRILL’S “OBSESSION”)

WHITEHEAD: Pianist Arturo O’Farrill along with his son Zack O’Farrill on drums, who, like his father, caught the jazz bug early. When Arturo was 19, composer Carla Bley heard him taking part in a bar gig and drafted him into her Eighties huge band. He performs one in every of her elegantly easy ballads from that interval. Its Norwegian title interprets as “Improvement Tune.”

(SOUNDBITE OF ARTURO O’FARRILL’S “UTVIKLINGSSANG”)

WHITEHEAD: Arturo O’Farrill reveals commendable restraint there, however he goes the opposite means, taking part in Thelonious Monk’s “Nicely You Needn’t” as a solo. Monk was a less-is-more sort man, however his interpreters do not must be. O’Farrill is an orchestra chief. He likes huge gestures and a busy sound. However generally he’ll get so swept up within the second, he forgets to return up for air. Even non-horn gamers have to take breath pauses.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARTURO O’FARRILL’S “WELL YOU NEEDN’T”)

WHITEHEAD: Arturo O’Farrill balances freedom and self-discipline, protecting a 1951 tune the place pianist Bud Powell made his Afro-Cuban influences clear, from Max Roach’s cowbell to its Spanish title, “Un Poco Loco.” O’Farrill actually flies on his model. All that historical past he is aware of does not weigh him down. Liany Mateo is on bass. She additionally performs in Arturo’s Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARTURO O’FARRILL’S “UN POCO LOCO”)

WHITEHEAD: Right here or there on the solo items, Arturo O’Farrill nods to Jelly Roll Morton, who inspired Latin influences in jazz and hints at limber, early jazz stride piano. One of many solo ballads is “Pure Emotion” by Arturo’s bandleader father Chico O’Farrill. So counting drummer Zack, three generations of O’Farrill’s are represented on the album “Legacies,” reminding us what custom is at coronary heart – our ongoing dialog with those that got here earlier than us and those that come after.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARTURO O’FARRILL’S “PURE EMOTION”)

GROSS: Kevin Whitehead is the creator of the e-book “Play The Method You Really feel: The Important Information To Jazz Tales On Movie.” He reviewed “Legacies,” the brand new album by Arturo O’Farrill. If you would like to make amends for FRESH AIR interviews you missed, like this week’s interviews with actor Joel Edgerton, humorist Samantha Irby and historian Matthew Dallek, creator of a brand new e-book about how the extremist group The John Birch Society radicalized the American proper, try our podcast. You may discover a lot of FRESH AIR interviews. And only a reminder that you would be able to subscribe to our free publication written by two of our producers. It is a enjoyable learn with a behind-the-scenes take a look at our present, workers suggestions and extra. It’s going to arrive in your e-mail each Saturday morning. You may subscribe at freshair.npr.org.

FRESH AIR’s govt producer is Danny Miller. Our technical director is Audrey Bentham. Our engineer immediately is Adam Staniszewski. Our interviews and opinions are produced and edited by Amy Salit, Phyllis Myers, Roberta Shorrock, Sam Briger, Lauren Krenzel, Heidi Saman, Ann Marie Baldonado, Therese Madden, Seth Kelley and Susan Nyakundi. Our digital media producer is Molly Seavy-Nesper. Thea Chaloner directed immediately’s present. FRESH AIR’s co-host is Tonya Mosley. I am Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARTURO O’FARRILL’S “DOXY”)

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