Two Nights with Arturo O’Farrill & the Legendary Dr. Cornel West: Path of Sweet Resistance
Date: May 13, 2017
Venue: Symphony Space (NY)
It’s a rainy Saturday night. I skirt into Symphony Hall where I sit amongst a sea of appreciative audience members. Suddenly, I am surrounded by a cacophony of confectionery sound just five rows away from a bombastic event of horns, drums and percussive delight inviting us to move along with its Afro-Latin sway. This musical collaboration was laced with sacred moments dipped in cane sugar as the rhythms proudly strutted between the beats of Bahia and the Caribbean. Powerful! Last year, I had the pleasure of seeing four-time Grammy winner and Musicians For Musicians (MFM) Board Member, Arturo O’Farrill perform at Symphony Space and I’m happy to say that his brilliance still stands.
On the evening of May 13th there was indeed a love affair going on between O’Farrill’s music and his audience — the human family. Arturo graciously welcomed a man who he calls “a true collaborative spirit” to the stage, Maestro Letieres Leite of the Orkestra Rumpilezz. He and Maestro Letieres Leite seduced and transfixed the audience through a powerful legion of percussionists and a series of funky beats made from syncopated scratches nicely incorporated into the musical fray by DJ Logic. All this added to a well-established musical dialogue between audience and musician – human heart to human soul organically produced through a jolting electronic transfusion. Since 2015, Arturo O’Farrill, leader of the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO) has been the sweet inspiration for meaningful and timely musical collaborations with a number of soloists and visionaries.
Date: May 17, 2017
Venue: Brooklyn College (NY)
It is no wonder that Arturo’s collaborative sojourn leads us to one of America’s most prolific philosophers and scholars of our time – Dr. Cornel West. On Wednesday, May 17th, Arturo O’Farrill’s The Cornel West Concerto was brought to the campus of Brooklyn College at The Whitman Theater. The Cornel West Concerto is an oratorical plea for love to take the lead in worldly issues and is based on questions proposed by W.E.B Dubois at the turn of the 20th Century.
The event opened with a rather intimate pre-concert discussion amongst these magnificent minds of rhythm and rhyme acknowledging John Coltrane and many other musical vanguards who resurrected a desire for change through jazz music.
The interview was followed by a Q&A initiated by our own MFM President Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi who boldly spoke of the rights of the musician and the challenges we face in the world. As always, the doctor’s jubilant candor and loving nature was infectious and Arturo was warmly sincere in expressing his admiration for Dr. West, who we are proud to have sit on the MFM Advisory Committee.
You could hear a pin drop as the audience, consisting mostly of BC college students, hung on the author’s every word as he spoke of the dire need for justice, respect and most importantly…LOVE. Cornel West is a man that speaks with true conviction when it comes to love and music.To him, these two forms of expressions flow simultaneously very much like a saxophone riff and one’s cry for freedom. With the support of the Brooklyn College Big Band and The Conservatory Singers, conducted by Malcolm J. Merriweather, O’Farrill’s style of intellectual defiance continues to stir up the human ire. This can only bring about positive change leading us onto the path of “sweet” resistance- a musician’s war cry.
Arturo’s next music and talk event: “Make Music Your Profession” – Tuesday, June 27, 2017 – 6pm. Detail Info Here