Title - Virtual Birdland
Artist - Arturo O Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra
For those unaware, Arturo OFarrill (a six time Grammy Award Winner) and all the musicians on this brand new album, entitled Virtual Birdland (out now via Zoho Music) performed remotely in their living rooms, enriching lives of unseen listeners.
Indeed, Gulab Jamons title is a mash up of two of OFarrills favorite cuisines, Indian and Spanish. He has stated that the inspiration came from thinking about water and how it can exist in many forms, but is essentially the same.
We should see humanity as existing in many forms but being of the same essence, OFarrill explains. We do not dilute our essence when we embrace others.
1. Gulab Jamon
5. Ana Mashoof
6. Samba for Carmen
8. En La Oscuridad
10. Para Los Rumberos
This vibrantly seductive album opens on the cinematically imbibed, deep horn layered Gulab Jamon and backs that up with the rhythmical hipsway of Pouvoir, before we get the staggered, at times sharply countered, at others mystically beveled Desert, the lush orchestrations of the euphoric Nightfall, and then, at over eight minutes, come the longest track, the calmative concinnity of Ana Mashoof.
Up next is the upbeat and free flowing Samba for Carmen and the one-two, gentle Latin-pop sway reflections of Alafia, with the album rounding out on the slinking, late night smoky jazz club majesty of En La Oscuridad, one of my own personal favorites, the smooth foot-tapping elegance of Cimarron, closing on the confidently optimistic Para Los Rumberos.
Pouvoir means power in French and is written by a very powerful artist born in Morocco, a defender of the sacred Moroccan rhythmic code, Chaabi (a traditional style of North African dance music associated with weddings and festivals), OFarrill continues.
Malika Zarra, trained in New York, currently residing in Paris, is an archetype of how the music of Mother Africa flows from its sources and travels the globe enriching everyone it touches.
Beautiful human beings make beautiful music, OFarrill continues. I am not talking about high cheekbones or sculpted abs. I refer to those whose inner joy radiates in who they are and what they bring. Rafi Malkiel is just such a being.
If you know Rafi, you love Rafi. Desert, his composition, is an example of that inner joy flowing out. The sound of ancient trade routes connecting with a moment in time where we all need healing.
Nightfall by Larry Willis is an example of the compositional prowess of this brilliant pianist, OFarrill continues. The effortlessness of his swing and the efficacy of his tumbao reveal that the roots, path, and future of this music we call jazz are Afro Latino.
Influenced by the middle east and beyond, this music filters through Spain, ferments in Northern African, crystalizes in Western Africa and through a cataclysm called the slave trade, makes its way into all of the Americas.
The next piece is an example of global cooperation, of what could be if artists ran the world, OFarrill further explains. Ghazi Faisal Al-Mulaifi from Kuwait wrote this beautiful song, Ana Mashoof, and it was originally performed in Abu Dhabi during a concert called Cuba Meets Khaleeji: The Middle Eastern Roots of Afro Cuban Jazz.
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