Friday, December 16, 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Chico O’Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra concludes its residency at Manhattan jazz club Birdland

On Sunday, June 26, 2011, the Chico O’Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra will conclude its residency at the famed Manhattan jazz club, Birdland, where it has performed every Sunday evening for over 15 years. Legendary Cuban composer and arranger Chico O’Farrill founded the orchestra in 1995, and his son, pianist Arturo O’Farrill, has directed the ensemble since his father’s passing in 2001.

Arturo O’Farrill issued the following statement:

“Chico O’Farrill’s music is a national treasure. The Chico O’Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra is among the hardest swinging ensembles in the world. Our residency at Birdland has been a gift from on high. However, maintaining two big bands, a non-profit, and my small groups, as well as being a teacher, father, husband, and son, has been difficult to balance. In an effort to streamline my life and put more attention on composing and performing, I’ve decided to end the residency of the Chico O’Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra at the end of June. I intend to return to Birdland in September with a new residency of some sort, but the Chico O’Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra will finish its extraordinary run at Birdland. I wish to thank first and foremost the musicians, Gianni Valenti and our Birdland family, and most of all, our fans and friends throughout the planet. We love you all!”

Chico O’Farrill is considered one of the master architects of Afro Cuban jazz, penning the seminal Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite (originally recorded by Charlie Parker, Flip Phillips, and Buddy Rich). Adapting Cuban music to the modern jazz big band, O’Farrill wrote and arranged works for legends such as Machito, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Stan Kenton, Count Basie, and countless others.

Showcasing “the most seamless blend of clave rhythm and bebop harmony anywhere” (Time Out), the orchestra has performed the full repertoire of Chico O’Farrill for thousands at its weekly residency and through national and international tours. The orchestra recorded three albums—Pure Emotion (GRAMMY nomination), The Heart of a Legend (Latin GRAMMY nomination), and Carambola (Latin GRAMMY nomination).

Birdland owner Gianni Valenti remarked, “We’ve had 15 years of Sundays with the Chico O’Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra, and I’ve been here for just about every one of them. It’s sad to see it come to an end and we’re going to miss everyone dearly, but it’s been a wonderful relationship for Birdland and a privilege to work with Chico, Arturo, and the musicians.”

This past December the orchestra traveled to Cuba to headline the Havana International Plaza Jazz Festival. It had been Arturo O’Farrill’s desire to return his father’s music, played by his musicians, to the island, as his father was unable to return to the island after departing for the final time in 1960. According to the younger O’Farrill, this trip completed an “artistic, familial, and spiritual journey,” and serves as the subject of the forthcoming documentary, Oye Cuba! A Journey Home, directed by Diane Sylvester.

The Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, a non-profit organization founded by Arturo O’Farrill in 2007 dedicated to the performance, education, and preservation of big band Latin jazz, is committed to honoring the legacy of Chico O’Farrill. The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra continues to perform and record works by Chico O’Farrill. The organization also maintains a library of Chico O’Farrill’s scores, administers a scholarship program in his name for promising young musicians, and this December will pilot the Chico O’Farrill School of Jazz in Havana, an ongoing Cuban-American music educational exchange that includes a weeklong intensive co-taught by a faculty of Cuban and American musicians.


Three final performances by the

Chico O’Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra

directed by Arturo O’Farrill

Sunday, June 12, 19, 26

9 p.m. and 11 p.m. sets


315 West 44th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues

For reservations, visit or call 212.581.3080

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Latino Music, From Tango Back to the 16th Century

Many thanks to journalist Vivien Schweitzer and The New York Time Music section for this nice review of Wall to Wall Sonidos.

Since their founding in 1978, the annual Wall to Wall 12-hour marathons at Symphony Space have focused on a single composer; a genre, like opera; or a region, as did last year’s survey of music from behind the Iron Curtain. On Saturday the Wall to Wall Sonidos program explored Latino culture, with performers and composers from Spain and Central and South America representing myriad styles, including 16th-century vocal polyphony, tango, contemporary string quartets and Latin jazz.


That segment, which concluded after midnight, also included the premiere of Arturo O’Farrill’s “Still Small Voice,” with the composer conducting the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra and the LaGuardia High School Senior Chorus.

Mr. O’Farrill was inspired by the idea of conscience, using biblical and Eastern texts and concepts to illuminate his work. No libretto was provided, and diction wasn’t always clear, but there were plenty of colorful moments throughout, including the babble of voices narrating the story of the Prophet Elijah at Mount Horeb, jazzlike choral writing and a lively instrumental movement. Both chorus and orchestra performed with panache.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Muñequitos de Matanzas and Michel Herrera to Perform at the Chico O'Farrill School of Jazz

The Afro Latin Jazz Alliance announced today that members of Cuba's legendary Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, as well as Cuban saxophonist Michel Herrera, will perform at its fundraiser benefiting the Chico O'Farrill School of Jazz (COSJ) to be held Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City from 6-9PM.

Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, Cuba's premiere Afro-Cuban folkloric group, recently concluded a three-day residency at Symphony Space in their first visit to New York since 2002. Current Muñequitos members Ana Pérez and Luís Cancino Morales will perform, as well as special guests Ramón “Sandy" García Pérez, Roman Díaz, Eddy Mauricio Herrera, Lisa Maria Salb, and Wilson “Chembo" Corniel.

Read more here.

Friday, April 29, 2011

NYT: A Family’s Legacy, Afro-Cuban Jaz

Journalist Larry Rohter in the New York Times Music section has a wonderful article about the O'Farrill family.

IF there is such a thing as a first family of Afro-Cuban jazz, the O’Farrill clan has a right to claim that distinction. Its members helped invent the hybrid genre back in the 1940s, when Chico O’Farrill came to New York from Havana, and in recent years they have worked to reinvigorate the music despite barriers in both Cuba and the United States.

Thank you for this terrific, simpático article!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

¡Si Cuba! Festival

A great mention from Hispanic Market Info, about Si Cuba Festival:

Running from March 31 through June 16 New York will be presenting the creativity and artistic minds of Cuba through, ¡Si Cuba! Festival! In celebration of Cuba’s creative arts, the festival will be showcasing the diversity of Cuban culture from the traditional to the modern. This unique festival includes screenings from “award-winning films; lively concerts of son, rumba, hip-hop, and more by musical legends and rising stars; intimate discussions with Cuban writers, musicians, and thinkers; dance performances, from the classical to contemporary; compelling visual art exhibitions; and more…”

Some artists and groups to look forward to include:

The return of two groups vital to Cuban traditions.

- April 16th(Zankel Hall): The Septeto Nacional Ignacio Piñero

- May 5th-7th (Symphony Space) and May 8th(Performing Arts Center at SUNY Purchase): Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, at May 5 to 7 and at the Performing Arts Center at SUNY Purchase on May 8. There you will see adored performers of Cuban rumba and guaguancó: unique combination of Afro-Cuban music for percussion, voices and dancers.

- June 4th (Brooklyn Academy of Music) A rare Cuban tradition is represented by the Creole Choir of Cuba, which is compsed of descendants of Haitians who came to Cuba to escape slavery and their acculturation to the Cuban culture.

The festival will also be showcasing other Cuban musicians, such as Xiomara Laugart, a singer from Havana who is now a member of Yerba Buena, at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center on April 30, and the rapper Telmary Díaz at BAMCafé on April 23. The pianist Arturo O’Farrill, who leads the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, brings his Family Band to BAMCafé on April 30, and on May 14 at Symphony Space the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra will be the centerpiece of Wall to Wall Sonidos, a marathon of Latin music featuring the premiere of Mr. O’Farrill’s composition “A Still Small Voice.”

Please refer to website for more details:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Join us Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at the Metropolitan Pavilion (125 West 18th Street, between 6th & 7th Avenues)

The Afro Latin Jazz Alliance will host a fundraiser benefiting the Chico O’Farrill School of Jazz (COSJ) on Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at the Metropolitan Pavilion (125 West 18th Street, between 6th & 7th Avenues) in New York City from 6PM-9PM. The evening will include performances by Arturo O’Farrill and the Chico O’Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra, Andrea Brachfeld and Phoenix Rising, and Aruán Ortiz and Camarada Urbana.

The Chico O’Farrill School of Jazz is an ongoing Cuban-American music educational exchange, with the pilot program scheduled for December 2011. The program is co-sponsored by the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, the Cuban Institute of Music, the Amadeo Roldan Conservatory of Music, and the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University. The Institute’s namesake, legendary composer and arranger Chico O’Farrill, is celebrated as one of the master architects of modern big band Afro Cuban jazz.

The inaugural program includes a weeklong intensive in Havana where a faculty of Cuban and American artist teachers will work closely with Cuban music students. The intensive will culminate in a concert at the Havana Plaza Jazz Festival. In subsequent years the program will last several weeks, ultimately expanding to a ten-week semester where American students participate in the program in Cuba and Cuban students participate in the program in the United States.

ALJA Artistic Director Arturo O’Farrill stated, “The opportunity to have real ongoing educational dialogue between the United States and Cuba is unparalleled. This fundraiser is the foundation of a commitment on the part of the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance to begin to build the permanent bridge constructed out of mutual respect using the language of music to irrevocably change the conversation between Cuban and American musicians.”

O’Farrill, an experienced educator, traveled to Cuba with the Chico O’Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra this past December to headline the Havana Plaza Jazz Festival. O’Farrill’s interaction with young Cuban musicians during the trip inspired the idea of creating a long-term, sustained educational exchange. O’Farrill and flutist Andrea Brachfeld co-conceived the project and are serving as program directors.

Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance

invite you to a fundraiser benefiting

The Chico O'Farrill School of Jazz

May 18, 2011/6PM-9PM

An Evening of Music & Dancing

With Performances By:

Arturo O'Farrill & The Chico O'Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra

Andrea Brachfeld & Phoenix Rising

Aruán Ortiz & Camarada Urbana

Donation $75.00

The Metropolitan Pavilion

125 West 18th St (b/w 6th & 7th Aves.), NY, NY10011

RSVP by May 15th online

Advance Payment: online, check, or at the door

For more information on the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, visit our website here.

Arturo explains the NARAS GRAMMY decision

Click here to watch Arturo explain his objection to the NARAS decision to change the GRAMMY categories.