Latin jazz works best when the musicians involved are as fluent in Afro-Cuban rhythms as they are in the deep grooves and advanced harmonics of bebop. Arturo O'Farrill has that pedigree in his DNA: His father, Chico O'Farrill, was part of a groundbreaking group of musicians who created the mash-up of Afro-Cuban music and jazz back in late-'40s New York.
The octet you see in this video is a stripped-down version of the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, which is at least twice as large — don't think I didn't try to get the whole band behind Bob Boilen's desk — and dedicated to both preserving the legacy of the elder O'Farrill and documenting the younger musician's efforts to move the music forward.
The musicians with whom Arturo O'Farrill surrounds himself all play with intensity that draws from both traditions. It was a thrill to hear such tremendous late-night music so early in the morning — and an honor to have O'Farrill ask me to sit in with the band and share the conga chair with Tony Rosa. Playing with musicians of this caliber always steps up your game, and on this day, I did my best and had a lot of fun in the process.
- "In Whom"
- "Compay Doug"
- "Mass Incarceration Blues"
Producers: Felix Contreras, Denise DeBelius; Editor: Parker Miles Blohm; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Parker Miles Blohm, Denise DeBelius, Gabriella Garcia-Pardo; photo by Hayley Bartels/NPR