Arturo O'Farrrill
The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra

Centennial Suites

Release Date: June 3, 2022
UPC Code: 880956220123
Availability: Worldwide
Selection #: ZM 202201



Side A:

The Afro Latin Jazz Suite
(Arturo O’Farrill)
1. Mother Africa 9:49
2. All of the Americas 6:13
3. Adagio 1:35
4. What Now 4:11

Side B

1. Four Questions 16:13
(Arturo O’Farrill, Dr Cornel West)

The Afro Latin Jazz Suite:
Arturo O’Farrill - composer, piano, music director
Ivan Renta - (lead), Peter Brainin, David DeJesus, Alejando Aviles - reeds
Jason Marshall - baritone saxophone
Seneca Black - (lead), Jim Seeley, John Bailey, Jonathan Powell - trumpets
Tokunori Kajiwara  - trombone (lead), Frank Cohen, Rey David Alejandre - trombones
Rafi Malkiel - trombone, euphonium,
Earl McIntyre - bass trombone
Gregg August – bass
Vince Cherico – drums
Tony Rosa - congas, percussion
Carlos Maldonado - bongos, timbales, percussion;
Adel González Gómez - percussion
Rudresh Mahanthappa - alto saxophone, Roberto Quintero - maracas, Jim Seeley - trumpet

Four Questions:
Bobby Porcelli, Ivan Renta, Jeremy Powell, Larry Bustamante, David DeJesus - saxes
Bryan Davis, Seneca Black, Adam O’Farrill, John Bailey, David Smith - trumpets
Rafi Malkiel, Kajiwara Tokunori, Frank Cohen - trombones
Earl McIntyre - tuba
Ricardo Rodriguez - bass
Tony Rosa - congas
Carly Maldonado - bongos & percussion
Vince Cherico - drums
Ivan Renta - tenor sax,  Arturo O'Farrill - piano, Seneca Black - trumpet, Dr. Cornel West - orator
October 28, 2021 marks the centennial of Arturo “Chico” O’Farrill. This vinyl release of two original compositions is named The Centennial Suites to honor this moment in time. I have been indelibly shaped by Chico O’Farrill.

As a composer he showed us the greatest lesson possible. His Afro Cuban Jazz Suite is an example of taking an artistic chance, putting it all on the line just as he was starting out in his career. In the time when he wrote his masterpiece, the state of the art in jazz was Charlie Parker, the discovery of Cuba was the only acknowledgement of Latin influence in jazz and only Duke Ellington was writing extended multimovement suites with any success. Somehow Chico connected Europe, Africa, Cuba and the Americas and singlehandedly changed the face of modern music.

My Afro Latin Jazz Suite is not a nostalgic work. It is not a tribute to Chico’s The Afro Cuban Jazz Suite but rather a tribute to the integrity that he personified. In our time, the state of the art in jazz has changed to include global voices like that of Rudresh Mahanthappa. Latin influence in jazz has been extended beyond Cuba to include music from all of the Americas. Suites are now an acknowledged structure in Jazz.

In my composition, the first movement, Mother Africa, is based on South Asian Harmonium textures, Indigenous African Rhythms, a cluster based harmonic improvisational setting and fragments of Chico’s motifs in The Afro Cuban Jazz Suite. The second movement is based on Peruvian rhythms and is called All of the Americas. The connecting Adagio is based on what I consider Chico’s most gorgeous writing, his ballads and boleros and the final movement What Now is based directly on the angularity of Rudresh’s motivic improvisational approach. It’s also based on Mozambique rhythms. In this piece I do not pay tribute to Chico in a replicational manner. What I hope I’ve achieved is an acknowledgement of his integrity, curiosity and willingness to risk it all.

Four Questions is the marriage of creative practice and personal conviction. In this piece I was inspired by truth telling. Dr. Cornel West is a truth teller. He makes many in and out of his community nervous. Whether or not you agree with his views, he is a modern-day prophet. In this case I was transformed by a speech Dr. West made in 2004 in Seattle based on his book, Black Prophetic Fire. In the speech he expounds on four questions posed by W.E. B. DuBois in his book, Souls of Black Folk.

Musically, the piece achieves much of what I practice in The Afro Latin Jazz Suite. It begins with an introduction to a musical portrait of Cornel and moves into a Motown inspired treatment of the first question. The Four chords that signal the end of the first movement take us into a cyclic motif that is rhythmically displaced and is restated before the third question comes in as a clear statement of how stride and jazz naturally evolve out of the marriage of African and Cuban Rhythms. The final movement and fourth question is based on the Hymn, Where You There?

These two suites were both awarded critical success having earned Grammy awards in 2015 and 2021, respectively. This is sweet vindication for me as I consider all the merit I have as an acknowledgement of a principle I learned from Maestro Arturo ‘Chico’ O’Farrill: “Do what you do at the highest technical level that you can, do this with artistic integrity, marry it to your convictions and worry not about what reception you’ll receive.”

These suites are a reflection of those values instilled in me by a humble Irish German Cuban visionary who lived what he believed.

Arturo O’Farrill
June 9, 2021

“The Afro Latin Jazz Suite” recorded at Abdala Studios, Havana, Cuba, December 19-21, 2014 . Engineer:ed by Orestes Aguila. Mixed by: Katherine Miller. Masteredby: Alan Silverman. Producers: Arturo O’Farrill, Kabir Sehgal, Julian Weller, Eric Oberstein. Executive Producer: Kabir Sehgal. Written by Arturo O’Farrill and Cornel West. Publishing Madacaz (BMI), Mindvine (ASCAP).

“Four Questions” recorded at Avatar Studios, New York, NY. 2016 – 2019. Recording Engineer: Tom Lazarus. Assistant Producer: Julian Weller. Mixed by: Peter Karl. Mastered by : Alan Silverman. Producers: Kabir Sehgal, Arturo O’Farrill, Doug Davis. Executive Producers: Kabir Sehgal, Fred Miller, Joachim “Jochen” Becker.

Art Direction and Package Design: Jack Frisch.