The Sunday Conversation Continues Weekly by Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra at Birdland
315 West Forty-Fourth Street, New York, NY 10036
Grammy Award winner Arturo O’Farrill is one of the most recognized creators of Afro Latin Jazz in the city and beyond. He has proven himself to be a top-drawer composer (like his legendary father Chico O’Farrill) and a sturdy leader of his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra. He is also a musical activist in search of the Latin jazz legacy as witnessed by his heritage recordings, including this year’s upcoming Cuba: The Conversation Continues, recorded in Havana in his dad’s homeland. “We don’t play stereotypical, nostalgic Latin jazz,” he says. “I compose and play with the spirit of exploration and expression that I learned from my dad. The real gift of great musicians is their quest, their hunger, their spiritual search for the truth. Jazz is supposed to move forward, not backward.” O’Farrill expounds on the theme of The Conversation Continues by dialing back in jazz history to when bebop co-founder and trumpet explorer Dizzy Gillespie collaborated with percussionist Chano Pozo. “Up until this time, people assumed that Latin and jazz were separate musics, but they were wrong,” O‘Farrill says. “This mix of the music is the sound of the Americas by way of Africa. Dizzy and Chano rediscovered this. There’s a famous quote by Dizzy that goes: Chano doesn’t speak English, and I don’t speak Spanish, but we both speak African. So they began a re-engagement with the conversation that began hundreds of years earlier.” The pianist says that that conversation continues with his music of the future played in a spirit of collaboration and improvisation. It’s a sizzling and as he calls it, a “subversive” experience. For a full conversation with O’Farrill, see Jazz Notes feature by clicking here. —Dan Ouellette
Performances are on Sunday nights through next year. Check ahead because Arturo sometimes takes the big band on the road. Click here for details.