Hour 19 Today’s Latin Big Bands – Dafnis Prietos, Arturo O’Farrill, Miguel Zenon, David Murray, Antonio Adolpho and Bobby Sanabria

Arturo O’Farrill

Cuban influences have been heard in jazz since the 1940s. The 1960s brought significant Brazilian sounds into the music. Today, musicians from throughout Latin America are shaping the music, never more vibrantly than in large Latin ensembles. Latin Big Bands lead by Dafnis Prietos, Arturo O’Farrill, Miguel Zenon, David Murray, Antonio Adolpho and Bobby Sanabria in this hour of Jazz at 100 Today!

Cuban Influences from Dafnis Prieto and Arturo O’Farrill
Cuban drummer and MacArthur Fellow Dafnis Prieto’s release Back to the Sunset won the Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Album of 2011. The disc pays homage to the innovators who connected jazz and Cuban rhythms in the 1940s. His composition, A Triumphant Journey, is dedicated to Dizzy Gillespie and Cuban conguero Chano Pozo, whose collaborations in 1947 and 1948 can claim to be the wellspring of the Afro-Cuban jazz tradition.

Around the that time, Chico O’Farrill arranged the Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite for Cuban bandleader Machito and his Orchestra. The 1948 recording famously featured Charlie Parker.
In AllAboutJazz, Dan Bilawsky wrote, “Bandleader Chico O’Farrill created a template of sorts, fusing big band bravura with Latin sounds in his Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra. While his son followed in his footsteps, Arturo O’Farrill has demonstrated a broader vision, looking past the island of his origins and developing a pan-Latin approach to jazz repertoire for his appropriately named Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra.” In the past decade, Arturo O’Farrill and his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra have recorded a series of fine sessions. His 2011 release, 40 Acres and a Burro, comes full circle with a stirring rendition of Gillespie’s 1945 landmark composition A Night in Tunisia.

A Triumphant Journey. Dafnis Prieto Big Band
(Mike Rodríguez-tp/flh, Nathan Eklund-tp/flh, Alex Sipiagin-tp/flh, Josh Deutsch-tp/flh, Tim Albright-tb, Alan Ferber-tb, Jacob Garchik-tb, Jeff Nelson-btb, Román Filiú-as/ss/fl/cl, Michael Thomas-as/ss/fl/picc, Peter Apfelbaum-ts/ss/melodica, Joel Frahm-ts/ss, Chris Cheek-bs, Manuel Valera-p, Ricky Rodriguez-b, Roberto Quintero-cga/bgo/per, Dafnis Prieto-d). From Back to the Sunset. Dafnison Music. 2018.
A Night In Tunisia. Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra
(Seneca Black-tp, Michael Philip Mossman-tp, Jim Seeley-tp, John Walsh-tp, Reynaldo Jorge-tb, Tokunori Kajiwara-tb, Earl McIntyre-tb, Gary Valente-tb, David Dejesus-as, Bobby Porcelli-as, Peter Brainin-ts, Ivan Renta-ts, Jason Marshall-bs, O’Farrill-p, Ricky Rodriguez-b, Vince Cherico-d, Roland Guerrero-cga, Joe Gonzalez-per). From 40 Acres and a Burro. Zoho Music. 2011.

Miguel Zenon & David Murray
Of alto-sax player Miguel Zenon release Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook, Dan Bilawsky wrote, “While calling somebody a “star” in jazz might seem like an oxymoron, when considering the lower-than-deserved profile of the genre on the national and international stages, Zenon fits the bill like few others. As of the recording of this 2011 album, Zenon, only in his early thirties, has already carved out a place as one of the defining saxophone voices of his generation. Having already received a Guggenheim Fellowship and MacArthur Fellowship (a.k.a. the “genius grant”) at such an early age, some feel that he has been wrongfully fast-tracked in a genre where the experience of elders is usually prized over the enthusiasm and creative spirit of youth; but his solo albums … have confirmed how deserving he really is of all of the positive press, awards and honors that have been thrust upon him … [For Alma Adentro,] Zenon brought Guillermo Klein on board to write arrangements for the ten-piece woodwind and brass ensemble that joins with the saxophonist’s quartet, and the results are mesmerizing.” The instrumentation for this disc is particularly unique. In addition to the alto – piano – bass – drums quartet the ensemble includes two French horns, three flutes, clarinet, bass clarinet, oboe, bassoon, and English horn.

When veteran avant-garde tenor sax player David Murray chose to record a tribute to Nat King Cole’s 1958 and 1960 releases in Spanish and Portuguese, more than a few eyebrows were raised. In the end, Murray the true world saxophone player, prevails. As James Nadal writes in AllAboutJazz, “Murray maintains the genuine savor of the original compositions, while broadening them to assimilate contemporary improvisation.” Thom Jurek at AllMusic writes that the disc, “is among the most imaginative and well-executed recordings in Murray’s large catalog. He found something mercurial, graceful, and dignified in Cole’s voice, and used it as inspiration to create a work that is respectful but utterly his own.” We’ll listen to Cachito written in the 1930’s by Consuelo Velazguez, the composer of Besame Mucho.

Juguete. Miguel Zenón Orchestra
(Jennifer Kessler-frh, David Byrd-Marrow-frh, Miguel Zenon-as, Nathalie Joachim-fl, Domenica Fossati-fl, Julietta Curenton-fl, Romie de Guise-Langlois-cl, Carol McGonnell-bcl, James Austin Smith-ob, Brad Balliett-bassoon, Keve Wilson-ehn, Luis Luis Perdomo-p, Hans Glawischnig-b, Henry Cole-d). From Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook. Marsalis Music. 2011
Cachito. David Murray Cuban Ensemble
(Mario Félix Hernandez Morrejon-tp, Franck Mayea Pedroza-tp, Denis Cuni Rodriguez-tb, Roman Filiu O’Reilly-as, David Murray-ts/bcl, Ariel Bringuez Ruiz-ts, Jose “Pepe” Rivero-b, Reiner Elizarde Ruano-b, Abraham Mansfarroll Rodriguez-cga, Sinfonieta of Sines). From Plays Nat King Cole En Espanol. Motema Music. 2011.

Antonio Adolpho & Bobby Sanabria
After a long career of playing and recording with many different bands around the world and releasing over 25 records as a leader, Brazilian pianist and composer Antonio Adolpho formed his own big band Orquestra Atlantica to interpret his music and the results are wonderful, including the samba-influenced Luizao.

Drummer of Puerto Rican heritage, Bobby Sanabria, maintains one of the most prominent Latin Big Bands in New York. His 2012 release Multiverse is described by Dan Bilawsky as “…a thrilling trip through the Latin jazz cosmos, directed by one of the finest percussive pilots on the planet.”

Luizao. Antonio Adolfo & Orquestra Atlantica
(Jesse Sadoc-tp/flh, Gesiel Nascimento-tp, Aldivas Ayres-tb, Serginho Trombone-vtb, Marcelo Martins-ts/fl, Danilo Sinna-as/fl, Levi Chaves-bs/ss, Antonio Adolpho-p, Claudio Jorge-g, Marcos Nimrichter-acc, Jorge Helder-b, Raphael Barata-d, Dadá Costa-per). From Encontros – Orquestra Atlantica. AAM Music. 2018.
Jump Shot. Bobby Sanabria Big Band
(Kevin Bryan-tp, Shareef Clayton-tp, Jonathan Barnes-tp, Andrew Neesley-tp, Dave Miller-tb, Tim Sessions-tb, Joe Beaty-tb, Chris Washburne-btb/tu/dijeridoo, David DeJesus-as/ss, John Beaty-afl, Peter Brainin-ts/cl, Norbert Stachel-ts/cl/fl, Jeff Lederer-ts, Danny Rivera-bs/bcl, Enrique Haneine-p, Leo Traversa-b/voc, Bobby Sanabria-d/per, Cristian Rivera-cga, Obanilu Allende-per, Matthew Gonzalez-per). From Multiverse. Jazzheads. 2012.

Arturo O’Farrill
Arturo O’Farrill released so many compelling discs in the past decade that we need to return to his work as we conclude our look at recent Latin Big Bands. His 2014 release Offense of the Drum won the Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Album illustrating his artistic vision which he describes as “”to bend what the world knows as Afro Latin jazz over the acoustic horizon.”

When President Obama normalized relations with Cuba, O’Farrill was coincidentally in a Havana studio and his double disc release Cuba: The Conversation Continues documents that emotional time. As Karl Ackerman writes, “Commissioned by the Apollo Theater and written by O’Farrill, the twenty-one minute The Afro Latin Jazz Suite consists of four movements and strong performances from Rudresh Mahanthappa on alto sax and trumpeter Jim Seeley.” The disc also includes appearances by Arturo O’Farrill’s sons composer/drummer Zach and trumpeter Adam, both now in their early twenties. Adam O’Farrill fills the solo spotlight on Just One Moment alongside the tune’s composer and featured alto saxophonist, Michel Herrera.

Alma Vacia. Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra
(Seneca Black-tp, Jim Seeley-tp, John Baily-tp, Jonathan Powell-tp, Tokunori Kajiwara-tb, Rafi Malkiel-tb/euph, Frank Cohen-tb, Earl McIntyre-btb/tu, Ivan Renta-ts, Peter Brainin-ts, Bobby Porcelli-as, David DeJesus-as, Jason Marshall-bs, Arturo O’Farrill-p, Gregg August-b, Vince Cherico-d, Roland Guerrero-cga, Joe Gonzalez-bgo/bells, Pablo O Bilbraut-per). From The Offense of the Drum. Motema Music. 2014.
The Afro Latin Jazz Suite, Movement IV: What N0w? Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra
(Seneca Black-tp, Jim Seeley-tp, John Baily-tp, Jonathan Powell-tp, Tokunori Kajiwara-tb, Rafi Malkiel-tb/euph, Frank Cohen-tb, Rey David Alejandre-tb, Earl McIntyre-btb, Peter Brainin-ts, Alejandro Aviles-as/cl/fl, Jason Marshall-bs, Arturo O’Farrill-p, Gregg August-b, Vince Cherico-d, Tony rosa-cga, Carlos Maldonado-bgo, Adel Gonzalez Gomez-cga/per). From Cuba: The Conversation Continues. Motema. 2015
Just One Moment. Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra
(Seneca Black-tp, Jim Seeley-tp, John Baily-tp, Jonathan Powell-tp, Tokunori Kajiwara-tb, Rafi Malkiel-tb/euph, Frank Cohen-tb, Rey David Alejandre-tb, Earl McIntyre-btb, Peter Brainin-ts, Alejandro Aviles-as/cl/fl, Jason Marshall-bs, Arturo O’Farrill-p, Gregg August-b, Vince Cherico-d, Tony rosa-cga, Carlos Maldonado-bgo, Adel Gonzalez Gomez-cga/per). From Cuba: The Conversation Continues. Motema. 2015

Latin Big Bands continue to evolve, including an ever richer stew of influences from throughout the Latin American world. Younger masters like Dafnis Prieto and Miguel Zenon now share the spotlight with established band leaders like Antonio Adolpho, Arturo O’Farrill and Bobby Sanabria as the music grows.

Bowers, Jack. (2018, April 6). AllAboutJazz. Dafnis Prieto Big Band: Back To The Sunset. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/back-to-the-sunset-dafnis-prieto-dafnison-music-review-by-jack-bowers.php

Bilawsky, Dan. (2011, February 5). AllAboutJazz. Arturo O’Farrill: 40 Acres And A Burro. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/40-acres-and-a-burro-arturo-ofarrill-coquito-saturday-zoho-music-review-by-dan-bilawsky.php

Bilawsky, Dan. (2011, August 21). AllAboutJazz. Miguel Zenon: Miguel Zenon: Alma Adentro – The Puerto Rican Songbook. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/miguel-zenon-alma-adentro-the-puerto-rican-songbook-by-dan-bilawsky.php

Nadal, James. (2011, December 24). AllAboutJazz. David Murray Cuban Ensemble: Plays Nat King Cole En Espanol. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/plays-nat-king-cole-en-espanol-david-murray-motema-music-review-by-james-nadal.php

Jurek, Thom. AllMusic. David Murray Cuban Ensemble Plays Nat King Cole en Español. https://www.allmusic.com/album/plays-nat-king-cole-en-espa%C3%B1ol-mw0002128365

Bowers, Jack. (2018, August 1). Antonio Adolfo: Encontros – Orquestra Atlantica. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/encontros-orquestra-atlantica-antonio-adolfo-aam-music-review-by-jack-bowers.php

Bilawsky, Dan. (2012, August 9). AllAboutJazz. Bobby Sanabria Big Band: Multiverse. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/multiverse-bobby-sanabria-big-band-jazzheads-review-by-dan-bilawsky.php

Bilawsky, Dan. (2014, May 28). AllAboutJazz. Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra: The Offense Of The Drum. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/the-offense-of-the-drum-arturo-ofarrill-and-the-afro-latin-jazz-orchestra-motema-music-review-by-dan-bilawsky.php

Ackermann, Karl. (2015, October 16). Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra: Cuba: The Conversation Continues. https://www.allaboutjazz.com/cuba-the-conversation-continues-arturo-ofarrill-and-the-afro-latin-jazz-orchestra-motema-music-review-by-karl-ackermann.php

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