A Great Night at Birdland with Arturo O”Farrill & The Chico O”Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra

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Final Night at Birdland is the spectacular new album by Arturo O’Farrill and the legendary Chico O’Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra, performing their last concert at the historic New York City’s Birdland Jazz Club. That was back in the early summer of 2011, ten years after the passing of Chico O’Farrill, closing a weekly gig that amazingly lasted fifteen years.

On this record, twenty-one musicians play some of the most representative of Chico’s jazz songs including “Delirio”, “Tanga Suite” and “Havana Blues”. Arturo (Chico O’Farrill’s son) pays tribute to his father with this profound work where the jazz lover can feel the catchy, romantic and essential sound of universal jazz. Who else than his son Arturo to honor the significant musical contribution of one of the most prolific Cuban composers of all time, Chico, the great Chico O’Farrill.

Arturo demonstrates his love and respect for Chico’s music when he plays the piano with passion and with powerful energy leading a dream team of musicians to reach pure harmony and feeling in each line of the most sophisticated Latin jazz music.

This work itself represents the essence of Cuban music and its development through time. The listener can hear various Cuban and African rhythms in a delightful concoction that becomes an explosion of Latin beat and heart.

Final Night at Birdland is vivid evidence of the musical legacy that the great Chico O’Farrill has left us, portraying his son Arturo as a true keeper of the flame, a respectful and honest musician leading the band that Chico created. To listen to this album is to go back in time to admire the contribution of a legend of world music.

As Chico’s son, Arturo gives us passion for Afro Cuban music with this marvelous work, conducted with great commitment. Every song composed by his father is a moving image about his own life and the history of this great band. “Three Afro Cuban Jazz Moods”, for example, made Arturo fall in love with Latin jazz when he was 12 years old. He remembers the great Chico working on the opening movement in his studio with great jazz super stars like Clark Terry and Dizzy Gillespie taking turns in the solo chair.

Arturo’s father’s physical presence is not with us but his music goes directly to our souls. Every member of The Chico O’Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra and Arturo himself surely put all their heart into this project to pay tribute and uphold the musical brilliance of a Cuban musician who came to this world to play forever.

Track Listing: 1. Introduction. Three Afro Cuban Jazz Moods, 2. Calediscopico, 3. Pensativo, 4. Exuberante, 5. Delirio / Tanga Suite, 6. Cuban Lullabye, 7. Mambo, 8. Cuban Ritual, 9. Bolero, 10. Rumba Abierta, 11. Habana Blues, 12. Father and Sons, From Havana to New York and Back Again.

Personnel: Arturo O’Farrill: piano, musical director; Gregg August: bass; Vince Cherico: drums; Tony Rosa: congas; Joe Gonzalez: bongo and bell.
Trumpets: John Walsh (lead), Jim Seeley, Pete Nater, Matt Hilgenberg.
Trombones: Gary Valente, Sam Burtis (lead), Kajiwara Tokunori, Jack Jeffers (bass trombone).
Alto Saxophones: David Bixler (lead), Todd Bashore.
Tenor Saxophones: Peter Brainin (lead), Jed Levy.
Baritone Saxophone: Maximilian Schweiger.
Special Guests: Adam O’Farrill (trumpet), Zachary O’Farrill (drums) and Michel Herrera (alto sax).

Arturo O’Farrill on the web: arturoofarrill.com

Label: Zoho Music | Release date: July, 2013

Reviewed by: Oscar Montagut