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.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

NARAS Eliminating the Latin Jazz Category from GRAMMY Awards

The Afro Latin Jazz Alliance is shocked and disappointed by the news that the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences has chosen to eliminate the Latin Jazz category from the GRAMMY awards. Latinos are the second-largest demographic group in the United States, at over 50 million people in the 2010 Census, and our contributions to jazz are an essential part of our country's past, present, and future musical heritage.

The elimination of Latin Jazz from the GRAMMYs is an affront to the achievements of some of our nation's most heralded musicians: Tito Puente, Machito, Mario Bauza, Chico O'Farrill, Paquito D'Rivera, Eddie Palmieri, and many more. Moreover, it does a disservice to the thousands of talented and committed artists who are now dedicating their lives to playing this beautiful and powerful music, an art form with its own unique history and tradition. America's Latin Jazz performers, composers, arrangers, and producers sacrifice so much to be able to create brilliant, original music in the Latin Jazz form; they deserve the same recognition and support enjoyed by their peers working in different styles.

Latinos have made important progress toward equality in recent years, with growing representation in our nation's political, economic, and cultural institutions. We are deeply disappointed to find today that this progress will not be reflected in our country's most important musical award, where the message now seems to be, "Latin Jazz musicians need not apply."

Ostensibly, the reason for the GRAMMY award is to recognize excellence in art. The Academy's decision is an abandonment of artistic goals and is injurious to the livelihoods of Latin Jazz musicians who must compete in a marketplace that perceives the GRAMMY as a indicator of artistic credibility--and hires accordingly.

We urge NARAS to rethink its decision and we ask all NARAS members, musicians, and fans throughout the world to demand better.

Please take a moment to express your opposition through signing this petition.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

¡Si Cuba! Arts Festival in New York City – Schedule of Music Events: March 31-June 16

NYC writer Meryl Pearlstein writes in AllNY about ¡Si Cuba! Arts Festival in New York City – Schedule of Music Events: March 31-June 16.

Following in the footsteps of his legendary father and jazz musician Chico O'Farrill, Grammy-winning pianist and composer Arturo O'Farrill, head of the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, teams up with his sons Zack and Adam to bring dynamic Afro-Cuban tunes to concertgoers. The concert will take place during the Wall to Wall Sonidos (, a marathon of Latin music.

Saturday, April 30 at 9pm

Bar opens at 6pm


30 Lafayette Avenue (between St. Felix Street and Ashland Place), Brooklyn

Tickets: Free

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Saturday, April 2, 2011, 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.


Brooklyn Museum

200 Eastern Parkway

Brooklyn, NY 11238-6052

Take the 2 or 3 to Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum

Come out and enjoy music from the Fat Afro Latin Jazz Cats, the

Afro Latin Jazz Alliance's NYC all-star youth ensemble, and the

Chico O'Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra for FREE

as part of the Brooklyn Museum's Target First Saturdays.

For more details:

Target First Fridays

Fat Afro Latin Jazz Cats

Afro Latin Jazz Alliance

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

History of Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra

Arturo O’Farrill was born in Mexico and moved to New York very early in his childhood. Due to his father’s career in music, he was heavily exposed to Latin jazz as a child and has always had a strong connection with music. He casually played piano as a child, but was truly inspired to become a musician by a Herbie Hancock solo from a Miles Davis record that he discovered in his father’s collection. This newfound passion led him to study music at New York’s High School Of Music And Art, where he immersed himself in modern jazz while avoiding Latin jazz in reaction to his father and the social implications of being a Latino. Because jazz programs were not yet conceived 35 years ago, Arturo first learned jazz through actively seeking teachings from jazz musicians in a little club on the lower east side that he and his friends frequented.

In 1979, his passion and devotion to jazz was noticed by Carla Bley, who recruited the 19-year-old Arturo to play at Carnegie Hall and kept him employed for several years. Once he left Bley’s band, Arturo played various gigs throughout New York, while regularly participating in his father’s jingle business. The Cuban rhymes, influence of talented Latin musicians, and teachings of Latin music history from bassist Andy Gonzalez led to Arturo’s peaked interest in Caribbean and Latin American styles as foundations of modern jazz.

With Arturo’s help, Chico O’Farrill recorded three albums, receiving huge critical praise. Trumpet player Wynton Marsalis invited the O’Farrill’s to join the Jazz At The Lincoln Center Orchestra in concert. Arturo addressed Wynton with his desire to form a repertoire band that drew upon the Latin Jazz big band tradition, which resulted in the formation of the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra years later. This marked his full-fledged commitment to Latin jazz. He became a high profile spokesman, introducing people to the finest aspects of Latin jazz through his concerts, recordings, education, and more.

However, several years later, Jazz At Lincoln Center was no longer able to support the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, separating O’Farrill’s group from the institution. Arturo was averse to the end of the orchestra, and thus formed the non-profit organization, the Afro-Latin Jazz Alliance. The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra persevered and commissioned new works, explored new artistic territory, toured internationally, started innovative educational programs, recorded respected albums, and won a Grammy. Arturo was able to take Chico’s music back to Cuba, and continues to move his group into a promising future. O’Farrill has brought the Orchestra to a place where they do more than simply play great music, they share challenging music filled with meaning and social relevance.

For further information and insights regarding the history of Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, view Arturo’s 5-part interview with Chip Boaz.

Part 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Great NYTimes review of our CubaNOLA show

Music journalist Jon Pareles gave our Symphony Space CubaNOLA show great review in the New York Times here.
New Orleans second-line beat, shaken and tapped on tambourines, started “CubaNOLA: More Than the Spanish Tinge,” the concert by Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra on Saturday night at Symphony Space. Then a cowbell joined in, tilting the rhythm toward Cuba. It was the prologue to a concert devoted to musical kinships: between Cuba and New Orleans, and between generations.
Thank you very much to the NYTimes!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

ALJO on JazzSet

ALJO's performance at Newport is now available for listening on NPR JazzSet!
The 1998 performance of "Perdido" by the Chico O'Farrill Orchestra with Arturo O'Farrill on piano is also available as an extra.
Click Here to listen to both performances on NPR JazzSet!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Newport Jazz Festival Performance Airs

ALJO's appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival releases on NPR tomorrow!

Listen to it there, or tune into WBGO 88.3 FM on Sunday, Feb 13 at 6pm.
If you miss that, check back on Wednesday, Feb 16 at 6:30pm for the rebroadcast.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra Concert & Album Release Party Feb. 26th, Symphony Space

Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra Concert & Album Release Party Feb. 26th, Symphony Space!

“CubaNola: More Than the Spanish Tinge” concert to feature New Orleans’ renowned saxophonist Donald Harrison.

Fresh from an historic journey to Cuba for the Havana Plaza Jazz Festival, Arturo O’Farrill returns to the Symphony Space stage on February 26th at 8PM with his GRAMMY Award-winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO) for a powerful evening highlighting the profound connection between the music of Cuba and New Orleans, and to celebrate the release of their latest album, 40 Acres and a Burro.

It was more than 70 years ago that Jelly Roll Morton coined the phrase “Spanish tinge” to explain the Latin American rhythms that spiced up the music he had helped to create—jazz. The program will feature arrangements of early charangas, rags, and contemporary works, plus the world premiere of O’Farrill’s new composition, More Than a Spanish Tinge. O’Farrill is coming off of a monumental trip to Cuba this past December, when he brought the orchestra of his late father, legendary Cuban composer and arranger Chico O’Farrill, to the island for a weeklong residency exploring the musical influences Cuban musicians contributed to the birth and development of jazz.

Performing in Havana and the surrounding areas, Arturo fulfilled a dream of bringing Chico’s music back to the land the elder O’Farrill had hoped to visit once again before his death, but was never able to. The tour, which was filmed for the documentary Oye Cuba! A Journey Home, brought out strong emotions in O’Farrill. “It was a very important artistic, spiritual, and familial journey,” he says.

Arturo O’Farrill has had a lifelong relationship with Afro Cuban music. A pianist, composer, educator, and winner of the Latin Jazz USA Outstanding Achievement Award in 2003, he was born in Mexico and grew up in New York City. In 2002, O’Farrill created the ALJO for Jazz at Lincoln Center. His debut album with the orchestra, Una Noche Inolvidable, earned a GRAMMY Award nomination. The ALJO won a GRAMMY Award for Best Latin Jazz Album in 2009 for its second release, Song for Chico.

For this special concert, which will explore the common roots of jazz as seen in the early music of New Orleans and Havana, O’Farrill and the orchestra will be joined by special guest Donald Harrison on saxophone. O’Farrill says of the evening, “Big Chief Donald Harrison will lead the ALJO on a wild ride, careening through the streets of Havana and New Orleans in such a manner as to blur the lines between the two. Come hang with us, swing hard, and enjoy the view from the corner of Bourbon Street and The Malecon.”

A critically acclaimed saxophonist and composer from New Orleans, Donald Harrison, known as “The King of Nouveau Swing,” has been called “one of the most important musicians of the new millennium” by CBS Sunday Morning. He is the originator of the Nouveau Swing style, which merges acoustic swing with modern R&B, second-line, hip-hop, New Orleans African American roots culture, and reggae rhythms. Harrison is also a master singer/dancer in traditional New Orleans culture. He is now the Big Chief of Congo Square, and he designs and makes his own Mardi Gras costumes. Harrison has worked with artists including Roy Haynes, Art Blakey, Terence Blanchard, Lena Horne, Eddie Palmieri, the Notorious BIG, Digable Planets, Billy Cobham, Ron Carter, and others. He recently appeared on the New Orleans-focused HBO series Treme.

Two for the Show Media
Chris DiGirolamo
5750 Aldrich Lane – Suite #1
Mattituck, New York 11952
tel: 631-298-7823 cell: 718-669-0752

The concert will serve as the official album release party for the ALJO’s highly anticipated new album, 40 Acres and a Burro, to be released February 8 on Zoho Music.

The program is part of Sonidos: Celebrating Latino Arts, a yearlong multi-disciplinary programming initiative at Symphony Space focusing on Latino arts and culture.


The Afro Latin Jazz Alliance presents
Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra
featuring special guest Donald Harrison
February 26, 2011, 8PM
Symphony Space
95th Street and Broadway, NYC

UNDERSCORE: Cocktails and conversation at 7 PM with the artists and Symphony Space Artistic Director Laura Kaminsky.
Ticket prices:
General Admission $38
Students & Seniors $25
Symphony Space Members $32
Day of Show $43

For tickets, visit the box office, call 212.864.5400, or visit cubanola-more-than-the-spanish tinge

Founded in 2007, the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance is dedicated to preserving the music and heritage of big band Latin Jazz, supporting its performance for new audiences, and educating young people in the understanding and performance of this important cultural treasure.

The Alliance maintains a world-class collection of Latin jazz musical scores and recordings, provides institutional support for the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, and provides education programs for young musicians and new audiences. From 2002 to 2007, the ALJO was a resident orchestra at Jazz at Lincoln Center, where it earned a GRAMMY nomination for its 2005 album, Una Noche Inolvidable. The Orchestra is currently in the fourth season of its residency at its home on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Symphony Space. The ALJO continues to tour nationally and internationally to critical acclaim. In 2009, the ALJO won a GRAMMY Award for Best Latin Jazz Album for its release, Song for Chico.

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