The 18-piece lineup of Arturo O’Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra preserves the sound of the great old Latin dance bands. However, the ensemble has a progressive, experimental side, embracing music from across the Americas, old and new, playing all of its diverse material with precision and fire.
Pianist, composer, and educator O’ Farrill–founder/artistic director of nonprofit Afro Latin Jazz Alliance–was born in Mexico and grew up in New York City. Educated at the Manhattan School of Music, Brooklyn College Conservatory and the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, O’Farrill played piano with the Carla Bley Big Band from 1979 through 1983. He then went on to develop as a solo performer with a wide spectrum of artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Bowie, Wynton Marsalis and Harry Belafonte.
In 2002, O’Farrill created the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO) for Jazz at Lincoln Center to raise the profile and appreciation of Latin and Afro-Cuban Jazz among the general jazz audience. The Orchestra has earned three Grammy® Award nominations, with their second album, Song for Chico, earning the Grammy® for Best Latin Jazz Album in 2009. Over the past several years, he has toured the U.S., Latin America, Europe and Asia.
A recognized composer, O’Farrill has received commissions from Meet the Composer, The Big Apple Circus, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Philadelphia Music Project and the New York State Council on the Arts. He has also composed music for films including Hollywoodland and Salud. As an educator, he has taught master classes, seminars, and workshops throughout the world for students and teachers of all levels. He is currently on faculty at Brooklyn College.