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World Music CD Reviews Jazz

Arturo O'Farrill & The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra

By Ernest Barteldes
Published July 18, 2008

Song For Chico

The New York-based maestro draws the line between Latin jazz and salsa on this new release, which begins with a hard-driving arrangement to “Caravan”—a classic tune that’s often cited as jazz’s first incursion into Latin music. The orchestra honors Tito Puente by revisiting “Picadillo,” which features a dexterous solo from the bandleader, while the Dafnis Prietopenned title track begins with a complex structure and then eases into hard salsa territory with accomplished solos from trumpeter Michael Rodriguez and saxophonist Bobby Porcelli. Bassist Ruben Rodriguez picks up an electric bass to front the band on “Starry Nights,” which was composed as a tribute to Israel “Cachao” Lopez and becomes especially poignant now that the great Cuban bassist has left us for that great mambo jam in the sky.