Vol 8: Arturo O’Farrill – Against Elitism: The Functional Value of Jazz and Art
Jazz and Afro-Latin music deserve their hard-earned places among this country’s great art forms. Yet all music and art holds special power and promise to bind communities, support spiritual uplift and advance social and political aims. Elitism of any form can dilute these functions. As composer, pianist and bandleader, and through his Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, Arturo O’Farrill has long sought to, as he says, “build a pueblo” around culture. Along with special guests including tap dancer Ayodele Casel, O’Farrill will perform music that reflects these ideas.
Following the performance, host Larry Blumenfeld will moderate a discussion with O’Farrill, Casel and others about how artists, arts professionals and communities can honor these values.
About the Artist:
Pianist, composer and educator Arturo O’Farrill was born in Mexico and grew up in New York City. His 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 he 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 U.S. and American musicians to Cuba. His powerful “Three Revolutions” from the album Familia-Tribute to Chico and Bebo was the 2018 Grammy Award winner for Best Instrumental Composition, his sixth such Grammy honor.
Jazz and Social Justice: A Salon with Music
This ongoing series was started in 2017, to connect the music we love with the social issues that matter to us all. Each salon blends live performance with conversation between artists, activists, and experts. Curated and hosted by journalist Larry Blumenfeld, whose previous NJMIH programs discussed Afro-Cuban influences and New Orleans traditions.