Title - 'Four Questions'
Artist - Arturo O'Farrill / The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra
For those not in the know, Arturo O'Farrill, pianist, composer, and educator, was born in Mexico and grew up in New York City.
He received his formal musical education at the Manhattan School of Music and the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College.
Arturo’s professional career began with the Carla Bley Band and continued as a solo performer with a wide spectrum of artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Bowie, Wynton Marsalis, and Harry Belafonte.
In 2007, he founded the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance as a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the performance, education, and preservation of Afro Latin music.
In December 2010 Arturo traveled with the original Chico O’Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra to Cuba, returning his father’s musicians to his homeland.
He continues to travel to Cuba regularly as an informal Cultural Ambassador, working with Cuban musicians, dancers, and students, bringing local musicians from Cuba to the US and American musicians to Cuba.
Now Arturo has just released the magnificent Four Questions (via Zoho Music), which features two large-scaled compositions from the six time Grammy winner for his Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra.
1. 'Baby Jack' (7:21)
2. 'Jazz Twins' (9:31)
3. 'Four Questions' (16:13)
4. 'Clump, Unclump' (7:16)
A Still, Small Voice
5. 'Elijah - 1 Kings 19:-13' (8:05)
6. 'Amidst The Fire and Whirlwind' (1:14)
7. 'Cacophonous' (4:25)
8. 'A Still, Small Voice' (8:02)
Weaving together empowering messages for the times, Four Questions portrays the pioneering pianist as outspoken as ever on the obligation of artists to speak truth to the great injustices occurring across the globe.
Opening with the euphorically mesmerizing Latin hipsway of 'Baby Jack,' that's backed seamlessly by the sterner procedural of 'Jazz Twins,' and then comes the stunning, and (for the most part), spoken word title track, with the playful, yet cultured piano intricacies of 'Clump, Unclump' bringing the first section of this recording to a close.
The quietly regal beauty of 'Elijah - 1 Kings 19:-13' is a true blessing to behold and that is followed by a short, stirring, choir-embodied 'Amidst The Fire and Whirlwind.'
This vibrantly magnificent album then rounds out with the startlingly alert, fervent and yet at all times grounded, vibrantly free flowing melodies of 'Cacophonous' (my own personal favorite here), and then closes out with the stunningly crystalized, and perfectly harmonized vocals of the smooth R&B-tinged 'A Still, Small Voice.'
"What does integrity do in the face of adversity / oppression?,' asks Arturo. "What does honesty do in the face of lies / deception? What does decency do in the face of insult? How does virtue meet brute force?"
"These four questions posed by the great African American civil rights activist and author W. E. B. Du Bois in his 1903 book The Souls of Black Folk are expounded upon in a speech given by Dr. Cornel West based on his book, Black Prophetic Fire, given October 9th, 2014 at Town Hall in Seattle. That speech turned my life around and Dr. West has become a giant figure in my thinking."
"Without a doubt, he is a controversial figure and many within his own intelligentsia community have attacked him for a variety of reasons."
"I have learned from firsthand experience that if you are under attack (especially by your own) it could be because standing strong for what you believe will threaten others in their complacency."
"Regardless of your stance on Dr. West, he holds our feet to the fire and demands that we deal with the social and political horrors of our day. Say what you will, he is a modern-day prophet and prophets throughout the ages are attacked for calling it like it is."
"Watching Dr. West speak is one of the sublime musical experiences of my life. His oratory has the weight of a John Coltrane solo. His rhythmic delivery has the tumbao of Mongo Santamaria."
"The humor with which he injects his very serious messages floats like Charlie Parker in flight and, oh, most sacred of all, when he gets deliberate, each word has the authenticity and Afrocentricity of Thelonious Monk's right hand."
"Upon seeing him in a debate at Riverside Church in New York, I knew I must write a concerto for his delivery of W. E. B. Du Bois' questions, and I pursued this goal relentlessly. Dr. West is a giant of a human being and graciously agreed to be the subject of what has become an extensive project."
Amazon CD Purchase Link
Arturo O'Farrill / The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra @ Facebook