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

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.


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 large band of his composer father, Chico O’Farrill. Again when Arturo began out, he simply wished to be a jazz pianist. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says his new album places piano within the foreground.


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 stage, 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.


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 Nineteen Eighties large band. He performs certainly one of her elegantly easy ballads from that interval. Its Norwegian title interprets as “Growth Tune.”


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 kind man, however his interpreters do not need to be. O’Farrill is an orchestra chief. He likes large gestures and a busy sound. However typically he’ll get so swept up within the second, he forgets to come back up for air. Even non-horn gamers have to take breath pauses.


WHITEHEAD: Arturo O’Farrill balances freedom and self-discipline, overlaying 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 would not weigh him down. Liany Mateo is on bass. She additionally performs in Arturo’s Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra.


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.


GROSS: Kevin Whitehead is the creator of the e book “Play The Approach 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 atone 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, take a look at our podcast. You will discover a number of FRESH AIR interviews. And only a reminder that you could subscribe to our free e-newsletter written by two of our producers. It is a enjoyable learn with a behind-the-scenes have a look at our present, employees suggestions and extra. It’ll arrive in your e mail each Saturday morning. You may subscribe at

FRESH AIR’s govt producer is Danny Miller. Our technical director is Audrey Bentham. Our engineer in the present day 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 in the present day’s present. FRESH AIR’s co-host is Tonya Mosley. I am Terry Gross.


Copyright © 2023 NPR. All rights reserved. Go to our web site phrases of use and permissions pages at for additional data.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This textual content might not be in its last kind and could also be up to date or revised sooner or later. Accuracy and availability might differ. The authoritative file of NPR’s programming is the audio file.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Read More