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Arturo O'Farrill - Risa Negra

Arturo O'Farrill

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Album Review

Arturo O'Farrill's latest album is a family affair of sorts: his wife, Alison Deane, plays piano on three tracks, while his teenaged sons Adam and Zachary play trumpet and drums, respectively, on another. Throughout the disc, the music is a mix of funk, Latin, and swing grooves with fierce, technically adept, but ultimately soulful and exuberant soloing, particularly by trumpeter Jim Seeley and alto saxophonist David Bixler, while O'Farrill himself maintains hypnotic montunos and rock-steady soul-jazz grooves on the piano and Fender Rhodes. The third track, "Blue State Blues," features a bass duo/duel between Ricky Rodriguez (acoustic) and Boris Koslov (electric), with O'Farrill offering surprisingly avant-garde comping behind. The album's climax comes with the two-part, 15-minute "Tabla Rasa," which creates a head-spinning Cuban bop blend in its first half and in its second features a guest appearance by tabla master Badal Roy, who played with Miles Davis in the early '70s and has enjoyed a long fusion career since. He's surrounded by a Balkan-sounding violin, flute, some vocal chanting, and a whole bunch of other elements that somehow manage to cohere — much like the rest of the album. Risa Negra isn't quite jazz, and it isn't quite Latin jazz — it's more, and better, than either of those narrow categories.


Born: 22 June 1960 in Havana, Cuba

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

A veteran figure of the Afro-Cuban jazz movement, Arturo O'Farrill was born in Cuba and grew up in New York City. The son of big-band leader Chico O'Farrill, Arturo was educated at the Manhattan School of Music and the Brooklyn College Conservatory. From 1979-1983, he played piano with the Carla Bley Big Band. O'Farrill then went on to develop his skills as a solo performer with a wide spectrum of artists,...
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Arturo O'Farrill - Risa Negra, Arturo O'Farrill
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