February 24, 2024

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CD review: Arturo O’Farrill – Legacies – 2023: Video, CD cover

Renowned as a composer, arranger, and bandleader, here the 8-time GRAMMY-winner puts the emphasis back on his striking pianistic abilities with a 9-song set that juxtaposes stunning solo piano flights and dynamic trio performances with O’Farrill accompanied by his son, drummer Zack O’Farrill, and bassist Liany Mateo.

The repertoire includes pieces by Bud Powell (“Un Poco Loco”), Thelonious Monk (“Well, You Needn’t”), Herbie Hancock (“Dolphin Dance”), Carla Bley (“Utviklingssang”), his father Chico O’Farrill (“Pure Emotion”), the Puerto Rican composer Pedro Flores (“Obsession”), his own “Blue State Blues,” and more.

Arturo O’Farrill’s second Blue Note release draws on his roots in the jazz piano tradition rather than his Grammy-winning legacy in Afro-Latin jazz. The sparkling introduction to a flamboyant cover of Herbie Hancock’s “Dolphin Dance” sets the album’s tone and Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell and Carla Bley are redrawn later in the set. The Latin pulse remains, as do the dramatic climaxes and narrative swerves of his orchestral work. But now they unfold in the hothouse intimacy of a fiery piano trio or are absorbed into the imaginative musings of a master baring his soul.

O’Farrill delivers two-handed independence with a precise pianist’s touch and sharp articulation. Two tracks in, he introduces Monk’s “Well You Needn’t” with a series of closely argued right-hand doodles backed by awkwardly placed left-hand stabs; the piece evolves into a rippling twist-and-turn mood-piece. In contrast, the album ends with a rampaging cover of Bud Powell’s “Un Poco Loco” that finds the trio breathing polyrhythmic fire. Initial influences noted, a cover of Bley’s “Utviklingssang” harks back to O’Farrill’s early playing career — the pianist, occasionally doubling on organ, joined Bley’s Big Band for a Carnegie Hall gig in 1979 and stayed with Bley for three years. Here, Bley’s elegiac melody flows gently to a peak and a solo from bassist Liany Mateo develops the mood.

But the strongest influences throughout this set are the vivid trains of thought that mark O’Farrill’s orchestral work with the Latin Jazz Orchestra. Unaccompanied readings of the playful “Doxy” and otherworldly “Darn that Dream” both deliver shifting moods and a mixture of styles. “Pure Emotion”, composed by O’Farrill’s father, Arturo “Chico” O’Farrill, switches smoothly into stride. The album is rounded out by two tracks highlighting the trio’s close-knit power. “Blue State Blues”, written by the leader, rampages through the well-established form. “Obsession”, a Latin jazz tour-de-force, arcs from dignified cadences to high-octane rumba and a highlight solo from impressive drummer Zack O’Farrill, the bandleader’s son.

1. Dolphin Dance (Herbie Hancock)
2. Well, You Needn’t (Thelonious Monk)
3. Blue State Blues (Arturo O’Farrill)
4. Pure Emotion (Arturo “Chico” O’Farrill)
5. Obsession (Pedro Flores)
6. Darn That Dream (Jimmy Van Heusen, Edgar DeLange)
7. Utviklingssang (Carla Bley)
8. Doxy (Sonny Rollins)
9. Un Poco Loco (Bud Powell)

Arturo O'Farrill, Legacies in High-Resolution Audio - ProStudioMasters

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