Arturo O’Farrill Photo by Laura Mariet ©
Born in Mexico City and raised in New York City, pianist, composer and educator Arturo O’Farrill grew up close to Cuba and its culture.
Geography and physical distances can be just an illusion. After all, O’Farrill is the son of the great, late Cuban composer and arranger Arturo “Chico” O’Farrill and is himself a leading figure in Afro-Cuban jazz. Deepening the connection, in the past two decades, professional and family reasons have taken O’Farrill to his father’s homeland.
The results include albums such as Cuba: The Conversation Continues, which was recorded in Havana and features his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra and several top-flight Cuban musicians. The album earned a 2016 Grammy nomination, and O’Farrill won a Grammy, his sixth, for “Best Instrumental Composition” for the “Afro Latin Jazz Suite,” the centerpiece of the recording.
In 2017, O’Farrill also celebrated Cuban music history – and his family´s – in a moving collaboration with Cuban pianist, composer and arranger Chucho Valdes, son of the late Cuban pianist, composer and arranger Bebo Valdes, another essential figure in the history of modern Afro-Cuban music and a friend of Chico O’Farrill. The resulting Familia, a tribute to the elders, is a multigenerational recording that features younger musical members of both families.
O’Farrill and his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra will present some of this work, and more, in “Jazz Roots: Cuba: New Perspectives” on Jan. 10 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.