Besides his serious chops as a composer, Chico O'Farrill was the most successful Cuban arranger and orchestrator of his generation. He came to New York in 1948 (though he lived for a time in Mexico) and led a big band in New York until his death in 2001. (His son Arturo, a marvelous pianist, directs the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra in New York today.) These 24 big-band tracks combine an LP recorded in Havana in 1956 and another done in Mexico in the ’60s. The Havana tracks are time capsules, boasting standards like “Tenderly” and the “Rock-Roll and Cha-Cha-Cha.” The Mexico tracks, while scratchy, are also jewels, featuring O'Farrill's orchestration of standards and classics, including several by Lecuona as well as a lush rendering of the 19th-century habanera “La Bella Cubana” by José White. In both, O'Farrill pulls endless changes of orchestral color from his savvy ensemble.
By Kevin Whitehead on 02.25.15 in Features
Kevin Whitehead on how the prolific saxophonist has defeated expectations.
By Britt Robson on 02.11.15 in Reviews
The Vijay Iyer Trio set a remarkably high bar with their two prior studio releases, Historicity in 2009 and Accelerando in 2012, each one consensually rated among the top two or three releases of the year in jazz polls a...
By Ron Hart on 02.02.15 in Features
Celebrating Blue Note's 75th anniversary by examining its relationship with hip-hop
By Glenn Kenny on 01.09.15 in Features
The 1977 album may not have racked up sales, but fans of the record are fans for life.