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The Chico O'Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra Goes To Cuba for the Havana Jazz Fest
(Published: October 29, 2010)

The Afro Latin Jazz Alliance announced today that GRAMMY winner Arturo O'Farrill plans to travel with the orchestra of his late father, legendary Cuban composer and arranger Chico O'Farrill, to Cuba for an historic cultural and educational exchange in mid- December.

The Chico O'Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra will headline the 26th edition of the Havana International Plaza Jazz Festival, sponsored by the Cuban Institute of Music and the National Center of Popular Music, which runs December 16-19.

"Since my first visit to the Plaza Jazz Festival in Havana in 2002, it has been my desire to return Chico O'Farrill's music, played by his musicians, to the island," stated Arturo O'Farrill. "When my father finally agreed to a possible return, it was already too late and he died brokenhearted that he was never able to return to his beloved island [after departing in 1960]. With this trip, Chico's orchestra will be completing an artistic, familial, and spiritual journey."

During their weeklong stay, O'Farrill and the orchestra will participate in a full schedule of concerts and education events, including a performance of Chico O'Farrill's works at the Mella Theater in Havana. O'Farrill will share the stage with Cuban maestro Chucho Valdés, his sons Zachary and Adam, and young Cuban musicians, premiering a work that O'Farrill is writing, entitled Fathers and Sons: From Havana to New York and Back.

The orchestra will also give concerts at the Casa de la Cultura in Havana, in the town of San José de las Lajas where Chico O'Farrill's family built a cathedral, and in the province of Matanzas alongside a local orchestra dedicated to performing the Chico O'Farrill repertoire. In addition, O'Farrill will give a master class at the Amadeo Roldán Conservatory as well as a children's concert with his sons, who are both accomplished young musicians and represent the third generation of O'Farrill artists.

"Chico O'Farrill was a founding father of the music that we love," stated Eric Oberstein, Executive Director of the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance. "It is an honor to work with his son to help realize the dream of the man who gave so much to our world and our music. This journey beautifully complements the mission of our organization to preserve this music and foster cultural exchange through performance and education."

Chico O'Farrill is considered one of the master architects of Afro Cuban jazz, penning the seminal Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite (originally recorded by Charlie Parker, Flip Phillips, and Buddy Rich). Adapting Cuban music to the modern jazz big band, O'Farrill wrote and arranged works for legends such as Machito, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Stan Kenton, Count Basie, and countless others. He formed the Chico O'Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra, which has been in residence at the famed New York City jazz club Birdland since 1995. Arturo O'Farrill has directed the orchestra since his father's passing in 2001.

"Chico, like Cuban music, has always operated under the surface of jazz. With this voyage we proclaim that without Cuba and its influence, jazz would not exist. It is not a branch of the jazz tree but inextricably woven throughout its roots," stated the younger O'Farrill.

This trip will be the subject of the documentary film Oye Cuba! A Journey Home, produced and directed by Diane Sylvester, celebrating Chico O'Farrill's legacy and the opportunity for rich cultural exchange that the visit represents.

"The future of the music we call jazz is in the realization that young people from throughout the Americas are embracing a bigger view than ‘America's classical music,' that the spirit of jazz belongs to the world, comes from the African Diaspora, and whose roots are pan American," remarked O'Farrill.

He continued, "I think the future of our culture belongs to these young people, their embrace of the total, inclusive world of jazz. It is an organic and, finally, complete picture, one in which a Cuban visionary, Chico O'Farrill, seeing no division between two styles of music and two worlds, sees his dream realized and his journey complete."

More Information: http://afrocubanjazz.org

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