A Celebration: Free Concert and Street Corner Renaming Event
In Honor of Composer, Arranger and Band Leader
Arturo Chico" O'Farrill
Wednesday, June 29, 2005 at 6:30 PM
Riverside Park at Soldiers and Sailors Monument
Between 88th and 89th Streets on Riverside Drive, New York, NY
A Free Concert for the People of the City of New York
The Chico O'Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra
conducted by Arturo O'Farrill
with guest artist Wynton Marsalis
Followed At 8 PM with
The Street Corner Renaming Ceremony at 88th Street and West End Avenue
Arturo 'Chico' O'Farrill Place"
You are invited to join us in celebrating the life of Chico O'Farrill starting with a free concert on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 at 6:30 PM in Riverside Park at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Riverside Drive between 88th and 89th Streets. This concert performed by The Chico O'Farill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra directed by Arturo O'Farrill is offered as a gift to the people of City of New York. Wynton Marsalis, Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, will also participate. After the concert, the new street corner sign Arturo 'Chico' O'Farrill Place will be unveiled at 88th Street and West End Avenue.
Arturo Chico" O'Farrill (1921 - 2001) was a composer, arranger, band leader and a master architect of Afro Cuban Jazz. He wrote classical, jazz and Afro Cuban music and arranged for some of the world's most well-known performers, including Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Stan Kenton, Dizzy Gillespie, among others. From the mid '60's until his passing in 2001, Chico lived at 88th and West End Avenue in the city he loved: New York. He would often walk to Riverside Park where he would sit and compose his music.
Widely regarded as one of the master architects of Afro Cuban Jazz, Arturo Chico" O'Farrill almost became a lawyer. Born into an Irish-German-Cuban family in the Havana region of Cuba, Chico was slated to follow in the family tradition and enter into law practice. Luckily as a teenager he was sent to study in the United States, where he heard the sounds that would change his life and revolutionize jazz, the trumpet and the big band. After studying at the Havana Conservatory and performing in the nightclubs, Chico decided to move to New York where he continued his musical studies with Stefan Wolpe of the Juilliard School and gradually integrated himself into the New York Jazz scene. It was there that Benny Goodman, who had trouble pronouncing his name, dubbed him Chico" and hired him almost immediately as a staff arranger. During his tenure with Goodman, O'Farrill penned one of Benny's biggest big band hits, Undercurrent Blues".
The Forties and Fifties were a prolific and important era in Chico's career. It was during this period that he composed what is universally regarded by critics and fans throughout the world as the crown jewel of the Afro Cuban Jazz Genre, the extended, multi-movement work, The Afro Cuban Jazz Suite", recorded with Charlie Parker, Flip Phillips and Buddy Rich. He also wrote countless other works for Machito, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Kenton, and for many others including his own orchestras.
With the advent of rock and roll and the seeming death of the big band in the sixties and seventies, Chico turned his attention to commercial writing, including jingles, film scores and industrials. However, he maintained a creative presence contributing brilliant compositions and arrangements for the likes of Count Basie, Ringo Starr, David Bowie, Gato Barbieri and countless others. He also wrote another important extended multi-movement work for Art Farmer, The Aztec Suite", another critically acclaimed masterpiece.
In 1995, after 30 years of no recordings under his name, O'Farrill came out with the Grammy- nominated Pure Emotion" which was soon followed by the also Grammy-nominated Heart of a Legend" and finally Carambola" -- all of which were hailed by Jazz critics and fans throughout the world as the renaissance of a true American Jazz genius.
His memorial in 2001 at the Saint Peter's Church (the jazz church) in New York City was filled to overflowing with lines around the block as musicians and fans celebrated the life and work of this quiet, dignified Cuban gentleman who adopted New York City as his new island home. His music is celebrated to this day, performed by his orchestra The Chico O'Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra" which he conducted during his lifetime at New York's famed jazz nightclub Birdland at 315 West 44th Streets between 8th and 9th Avenues in New York City. The Orchestra is in its eighth year of performing on Sunday nights at Birdland,. Jazz at Lincoln Centers' Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra also includes Chico O'Farrill's music in its repertoire. Both orchestras are directed by Chico's son, composer, arranger and pianist, Arturo O'Farrill.
This event is produced by The Chico O'Farrill Legacy Committee and cosponsored by the Cuban Cultural Center of New York, a not-for-profit 501 (C) (3) arts organization with support from Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Arturo O'Farrill is available for interviews.
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