Arturo O’Farrill – …dreaming in lions… (2021) [FLAC 24bit/48kHz]

Arturo O’Farrill – …dreaming in lions… (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24bit/48kHz | Time – 01:04:56 minutes | 700 MB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Blue Note Records

GRAMMY-winning composer, bandleader, and pianist Arturo O’Farrill has fulfilled what he calls “a lifelong dream” with his signing to Blue Note Records and the release of his Blue Note debut …dreaming in lions… The album finds O’Farrill leading a colorful 10-piece assemblage he calls The Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble, a scaled-down edition of his renowned Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra. The program encompasses two inspired multi-movement suites that O’Farrill has conceived in collaboration with the Cuban Malpaso Dance Company: “Despedida,” a meditation on farewells, and “Dreaming in Lions,” inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s novella The Old Man and the Sea.

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 late legendary bandleader Chico O’Farrill, he is committed to breaching musical boundaries in search of genuine, elevated expression. “I’m so grateful for my father and all my mentors who challenged me to be more open to different influences,” O’Farrill says. 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 Jos’e “Bam Bam” Rodriguez Platiau, trombonist and euphonist Rafi Malkiel, flutist/saxophonist Alejandro Aviles, and guitarist Travis Reuter.

Composer, bandleader, and pianist Arturo O’Farrill delivers his Blue Note debut with his ten-piece Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble (drawn from his larger orchestra). Dreaming in Lions comprises two lengthy, multi-movement original suites. The title piece is inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s novella The Old Man and the Sea, and is presented alongside “Despedida.” Both were composed in collaboration with the Cuban Malpaso Dance Company and its artistic director, Osnel Delgado, and have been performed around the world. This music is dramatic and sweeping, filled with polyrhythms, dynamic textures, and complex harmonics. O’Farrill’s lineup includes three percussionists, brass, reeds, winds, guitar, and a drum kit. The bandleader handles piano and electric piano. This music retains a live, spontaneous quality inspired by performing with the dance company in real time. The five-part “Despedida” suite is first. “Del Mar” offers the piano as a tolling church bell. A rumbling bassline frames the chords as a euphonium delivers the melody line while saxophones stutter in the backdrop. The trumpet adds an elegiac lyric line. The bandleader shifts gears with a post-bop-flavored son montuno, while the rhythm signals the change and the band swings like mad. “Intruso,” with an electric bass, balances avant-jazz with post-bop, Afro-Latin funk, and carnival music. While “Beauty Cocoon” is a modernist bolero showcase for intricate flute, trumpet, and trombone work, it crosses rhumba and merengue with guaganco rhythms. “Ensayo Silencio” is a Latin jazz fusion jam with a strutting electric bassline, swirling, punchy, Joe Zawinul-esque keyboard layers, and buoyant tenor and brass engagement. The Dreaming in Lions suite is composed of nine movements. It’s less celebratory — more moody and detailed in execution. The title track offers slippery, ethereal piano as bass and flute create a melodic frame to assist the horns in building drama by combining folk forms, jazz, and classical music. “Scalular” is incendiary as the percussionists battle both one another and the bopping, skittering horn section amid angular piano montunos driven by a fleet walking bassline. “The Deep” is brooding. O’Farrill plays aggressive chordal vamps on a Fender Rhodes as trumpet soars over an undercurrent of layered, harmonized horns. The guitar and soprano sax playfully engage while the euphonium guides it all from the bottom. “Struggles and Strugglets” is a smoking, angular jazz-funk track wherein electric bass, guitar, and keys move against percussion and syncopated horns. “I Wish I Was” is a tender ballad with detailed, delicate brass, saxes, and piano harmonies. Son Adam O’Farrill’s trumpet solo is one of the album’s most moving moments. Closer “Dreams So Gold” is a meditative, classically tinged solo piano piece performed beautifully by O’Farrill’s wife, Alison Deane. Dreaming in Lions is simply stellar. Its sophistication is underscored by O’Farrill’s wild originality as a composer and arranger. This impeccably rehearsed band fires on all cylinders with an instinctive dramatic flair, infusing each composition with taste and color. In sum, Dreaming in Lions stands as one O’Farrill’s most adventurous, passionately performed works. – Thom Jurek

Tracklist:
1. The Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble – Despedida: Del Mar
2. The Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble – Despedida: Intruso
3. The Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble – Despedida: Beauty Cocoon
4. The Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble – Despedida: Ensayo Silencio
5. The Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble – Despedida: La Llorona
6. The Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble – Dreaming In Lions: Dreaming In Lions
7. The Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble – Dreaming In Lions: Scalular
8. The Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble – Dreaming In Lions: How I Love
9. The Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble – Dreaming In Lions: The Deep
10. The Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble – Dreaming In Lions: War Bird Man
11. The Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble – Dreaming In Lions: Struggles And Strugglets
12. The Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble – Dreaming In Lions: I Wish We Was
13. The Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble – Dreaming In Lions: Blood In The Water
14. Arturo O’Farrill – Dreaming In Lions: Dreams So Gold

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