A Witness To History: Guest DJ Arturo O'Farrill : Alt.Latino Alt.Latino talks to a bandleader with deep roots in Cuban music and a role in current events. O'Farrill just released a new album called Cuba: The Conversation Continues.

A Witness To History: Guest DJ Arturo O'Farrill

A Witness To History: Guest DJ Arturo O'Farrill

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Arturo O'Farrill conducts during recording sessions in Havana last winter. David Garten/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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David Garten/Courtesy of the artist

Arturo O'Farrill conducts during recording sessions in Havana last winter.

David Garten/Courtesy of the artist

Few of us get to witness a true historical moment — the kind that can change the world. On August 14, the moment the U.S. flag was raised over a newly opened U.S. Embassy in Cuba, Arturo O'Farrill witnessed one of those moments.

The Cuban-American musician was one of a handful of invited guests who watched the dramatic flag-raising ceremonies. On this week's episode of Alt.Latino, he joins the show to describe how the event affected him on a personal level. O'Farrill's family roots in Cuba date back 200 years, but he says it was the spirit of his late father, the legendary producer and arranger Chico O'Farrill, that gave him a sense of calm homecoming throughout the event.

Naturally, Arturo O'Farrill discussed plenty of music during this visit to Alt.Latino. He's just released a new album, Cuba: The Conversation Continues, which he recorded with the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra. That record was made in Havana, just two days after President Raul Castro announced to the island nation that he and U.S. President Barack Obama had agreed to normalize relations after a 54-year standoff.

This week, we discuss how the countries' cultural exchange never stopped, even amid an economic and political blockade between the two countries. We also play O'Farrill tracks by contemporary Cuban musicians we've been following on Alt.Latino. So tune in — and, as always, let us know what you think.

Hear The Songs

  • Arturo O'Farrill & Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra

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    "Guajira Simple"

    By Arturo O'Farrill & Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra

  • Dizzy Gillespie

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    "Manteca Theme"

    By Dizzy Gillespie

    YouTube
  • Arturo O'Farrill & Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra

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    "Alabanza"

    By Arturo O'Farrill & Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra

  • Arturo O'Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Suite

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    "Afro Latin Jazz Suite, Movement II: All of the Americas"

    By Arturo O'Farrill & Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra

  • Dayme Arocena

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    "Madres"

    By Dayme Arocena

    YouTube
  • Danay Suárez

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    "Lágrimas De Soledad"

    By Danay Suárez

    YouTube
  • Ibeyi

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    "Oya"

    By Ibeyi

    YouTube
  • Arturo O'Farrill & Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra

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    "Vaca Frita"

    By Arturo O'Farrill & Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra