Cuba and New Orleans are more than musical cousins; they are more like twins and equally responsible for much of what we call Jazz. Grammy winner Arturo O'Farrill and his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, together with special guest Donald Harrison, explores the common roots of Jazz as seen in the early music of New Orleans and Havana, with arrangements of early charangas, rags, and contemporary works, plus the world premiere of "More Than a Spanish Tinge."
This concert is dedicated to the memory of Charles Leaness, a profound friend to the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, a founding member of the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, and Arturo O’Farrill’s beloved personal friend and manager. “His belief in me and my work changed the course of my life.” - Arturo O’Farrill
Iko Iko (Donald Harrison)
I'm the Big Chief of Congo Square (Donald Harrison)
Almendra (arr. Chico O'Farrill)
Ruminaciones Sobre Cuba (Arturo O'Farrill)
Fathers and Sons: From Havana to New York and Back (Arturo O'Farrill)
Corner of Malecon and Bourbon (Arturo O'Farrill)
Quantum Leap (Donald Harrison)
Sincerely Yours (Donald Harrison)
Sand Castle Head Hunter (Donald Harrison)
40 Acres and a Burro (Arturo O'Farrill)
The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, led by pianist, director Arturo O’Farrill, is composed of 18 soloists who play classics of the Afro-Latin tradition. It exemplifies the best that Latin jazz culture offers: rich tradition through music and timeless appeal around the world. The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra became a resident orchestra at Jazz at Lincoln Center in 2002 and toured internationally, bringing the rhythms and heat of Latin jazz to places as far away as China. In June 2007, the Orchestra left Jazz at Lincoln Center to pursue its own educational and performance opportunities and is delighted with its new home at Symphony Space. Performing the very best of traditional compositions in the canon of the Afro-Latin genre, the ensemble commissions new works and leads education events. In 2006, the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra received a GRAMMY nomination for its debut album Una Noche Inolvidable and in 2008 won the GRAMMY for Best Latin Jazz Album of the Year with Song for Chico. 2010-2011 marks their fourth season of concerts at Symphony Space. Since its departure from Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Orchestra has performed in the prestigious Megaron Concert Hall in Athens, The Bern Jazz Festival, and The Rialto Concert Hall in Atlanta. The organization seeks to provide an opportunity for a new generation of composers, arrangers, and instrumentalists to further explore and define the music. To that end, the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance was created as a not for profit organization dedicated to the preservation, furthering, and education of Afro Latin jazz. The Alliance also established two residencies in the public schools with weekly classes for inner city kids.
Arturo O’Farrill, Artistic Director – Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, pianist, composer, educator born in Mexico grew up in New York City. Educated at the Manhattan School of Music, Brooklyn College Conservatory, and the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, Arturo played piano with the Carla Bley Big Band ‘79 – ‘83. He then developed as a solo performer with Dizzy Gillespie, Steve Turre, Freddy Cole, The Fort Apache Band, Lester Bowie, Wynton Marsalis, and Harry Belafonte. In 1995 Mr. O’Farrill began directing Chico O’Farrill’s Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra that preserved his father’s music. In 2002, Mr. O’Farrill created the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO) for Jazz at Lincoln Center due in part to a large and very demanding body of substantial music in the genre of Latin and Afro Cuban Jazz that deserves to be much more widely appreciated and experienced by the general jazz audience. As an educator, he has taught master classes, seminars, and workshops throughout the world. Arturo was Assistant Professor of Jazz at The University of Massachusetts in Amherst (2007-2008) and was Assistant Professor at SUNY Purchase (2008 – 2010). Mr. O’Farrill has toured the U.S., Europe, Mexico, and Asia. Besides recording eight albums as a leader for Milestone Records, 32 Jazz, Zoho, and M & I, Mr. O’Farrill has appeared on numerous records including the GRAMMY-nominated Heart of a Legend, Carambola, and the soundtrack to the critically acclaimed movie Calle 54. Mr. O’Farrill recently recorded the newest album with the ALJO, 40 Acres and a Burro, which has been released in February 2011. A recognized composer, Mr. O’Farrill has received commissions from Meet the Composer, Symphony Space, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, and R.D. Rice, among others. He has also composed music for films including Hollywoodland and Salud. Awards include: Latin Jazz USA Outstanding Achievement Award for 2003 and Distinguished Alumnus Medal from Brooklyn College. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, classical pianist Alison Deane, and their sons, Zachary and Adam, who are both accomplished musicians.
Donald Harrison, Saxophonist and Composer, is one of the few musicians who can play it all - from traditional New Orleans, to swing, bop, post-bop, modern, smooth, avant-garde, and beyond. Yet, Harrison has developed his own personal style that traverses and synthesizes all these mediums with great success. In the classic jazz genre, 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. His smooth jazz recording, The Power of Cool, went to the top of Billboard Magazines Smooth Jazz and R&B charts and is considered a classic. His ground-breaking recording, Indian Blues, captured the essence of Mardi Gras Indian culture within a jazz context. His latest New Orleans recording, The New Sounds of Mardi Gras, updates New Orleans music. It puts the sounds of Mardi Gras into hip-hop, R&B, and funk. Harrison remains inextricably tied to his New Orleans roots. The son of late great Big Chief Donald Harrison, Sr., he began working with Roy Haynes at age 19 and Jack McDuff at age 20. He joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers at age 21. A few years later, he co-led a band with Terence Blanchard that had an enormous impact on the development of the "neo-conservative" movement. After that group split in 1989, Harrison became a prodigious leader releasing a number of well-received records. Harrison has also discovered and nurtured some of the finest young jazz musicians like the young trumpeter Christian Scott, Mark Whitfield, Dwayne Burno, Christian McBride, Cyrus Chestnut, as well as rap icon, The Notorius BIG. He also worked throughout the 90s with a wide variety of world-class talents, including Lena Horne, Spike Lee, Latin jazz giant Eddie Palmieri, and the smash hip-hop groups Jazzmatazz, The Notorius BIG, and Digable Planets. All of this diverse experience fuels Harrison's dynamic sound. In the new millennium, Harrison has written and performed major orchestral works. Harrison is also master singer/dancer in traditional New Orleans culture. Harrison, now a Big Chief, even designs and makes his own Mardi Gras costumes which are considered works of art. He is The Big Chief of Congo Square with his group the Congo Nation. He has composed and played classical works with major orchestras. “One of the more innovative bandleaders New Orleans has produced in the past 20 years.” —Chicago Tribune