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Dreaming In Lions, Arturo O’Farrill

Born in Mexico and raised in New York, Arturo O’Farrill continues to deepen his engagement with Cuban arts and culture, always in his distinctively hybridizing way, much like his father, Havana-born Chico O’Farrill, the son of an Irish father and German mother. With …dreaming in lions… O’Farrill adds to a celebrated catalog of previous efforts including The Offense of the Drum (with Vijay Iyer, Edmar Castaneda and other guests); Cuba: The Conversation Continues (with Rudresh Mahanthappa, DJ Logic, more); Familia: Tribute to Bebo and Chico (with Chucho Valdés, the Third Generations Ensemble & Anoushka Shankar); Fandango at the Wall: A Soundtrack for the United States, Mexico and Beyond (with Regina Carter, Antonio Sanchez and many others); and Four Questions (with Cornel West). Deeply informed by the vernacular and rich traditions of Latin jazz, this music is never constrained by categories; it is consistently global in outlook, in keeping with O’Farrill’s pedagogical vision as the recently appointed Professor of Global Jazz Studies (and Assistant Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. He is among the foremost practitioners in Latin jazz but also one of the most authoritative composers in current small- and large-ensemble jazz as a whole.

Dreaming In Lions, Arturo O’Farrill

7-time GRAMMY Award-winning composer, bandleader, and pianist Arturo O’Farrill has released “Dreaming In Lions,” the title track of his forthcoming Blue Note debut …dreaming in lions… due out September 24. The album finds O’Farrill leading the colorful 10-piece assemblage The Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble thru a vibrant set that presents two multi-movement suites he conceived in collaboration with Malpaso Dance Company of Cuba: “Despedida,” a meditation on farewells, and “Dreaming in Lions,” inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. O’Farrill will be celebrating the album release with shows at Birdland in New York City from September 7-11.

“Dreaming in Lions” takes its name from an evocative image in Hemingway’s classic novella, one of O’Farrill’s favorite books from a young age. The protagonist, a Cuban fisherman, is deep in solitude on the ocean when he dreams of lions roaming an African beach coast. In his suite, O’Farrill “hears” the dream in a sense. And the title “Dreaming in Lions,” not of lions, is a way for players and listeners, he says, “to take part fully in the dream, being vested in that moment so it’s no longer a dream, it’s something you’re seeing. To me the book is about being still in the midst of great movement. It’s about being caught in the stillness of the moment while life swirls around you, which can be a kind of sacred holy experience.”

For O’Farrill, suites afford the space to convey extended narratives and cinematic ideas, a broadness of scope and intent that interests him most as a composer. Like his father, the legendary composer and bandleader Chico O’Farrill, he is committed to breaching musical boundaries in search of genuine, elevated expression. He has transmitted these values in turn to his sons, trumpeter Adam O’Farrill and drummer Zack O’Farrill, both of whom are featured on …dreaming in lions… Joining them are multi-percussionists Vince Cherico, Carlos “Carly” Maldonado and Victor Pablo Garcia Gaetan, bassist Bam Rodriguez, trombonist and euphonist Rafi Malkiel, flutist/saxophonist Alejandro Aviles, and guitarist Travis Reuter.

Episode #295

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