Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Chico O'Farrill: The Norman Granz Recordings

( Naar de Nederlandse vertaling.)
Chico O' Farrill, the Cuban band leader and composer, is often compared to Duke Ellington and labeled as The Duke Ellington of Latin Jazz.
Thanks to Lonehill Jazz you can now listen to his early 1950s recordings, produced by Norman Granz on a 2005 double CD titled Chico O' Farrill - The Complete Norman Granz Recordings. ( Lonehill Jazz LHJ10172)

Chico O' Farill, born in Havana, Cuba October 1921 as Arturo O' Farrill, went to the military academy in Georgia during the late 1930s which brought him into contact with jazz music. He started to play the trumpet and returned, after graduating, to Cuba. He started his own band, but concentrated on arranging and stopped playing the trumpet in the band. Later he became the arranger for the Isidro PĂ©rez Orchestra. In 1948 he returned to New York where he started in the Gil Fuller's band, where he became responsable for the arrangements. He met clarinet player Stan Hasselgard and thanks to him, he became the arranger in the Benny Goodman's Orchestra. Benny, by the way, give him his nick name: Chico. He became a sought after composer and arranger and I only have to mention Undercurrent Blues as recorded by Benny Goodman in Hollywood, February 1949, Stan Kenton's version of Cuban Episode or the well known Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite as played by Machito; all famous Chico O' Farrill compositions.
This Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite is now complete available on this 2CD set. It was recorded in New York December 1950 and in the orchestra you can find a lot of famous jazz musicians, like Harry "Sweet" Edison, Al Stewart, Charlie Parker and Buddy Rich. This suite was also recorded for the film/documentary Calle 54 and I found a film fragment in which you can see Arturo "Chico" O' Farrill conducting the orchestra, featuring his son Arturo O' Farrill at the piano and Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez, the energetic drummer, who played with his group in our Porgy en Bess Jazz club in Terneuzen ( in the south west part of The Netherlands) November 2005. Enjoy the fragment:

The Lonehill Jazz 2CD album contains a complete survey of all six Norgran and Clef recording dates and you can find 44 tunes, including the complete Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite and its successor The Second Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite, which is, in my opinion, better then the first, original one. It seems that there has been a previous reissue by Verve, titled Cuban Blues, but the Lonehill Jazz release has one extra, the tune Munequita Linda by Maria Mendez Grever (June 1951).
I took six CDs to my holiday home some weeks ago, including this 2CD set, and, because the weather was rather rainy and cold, we had to kill our time inside, so I listened several times to this great compilation I really learned to appreciate it. Chico O'Farrill passed away in New York City June 2001 and his son Arturo took over the band a few month before his death. A great highly influential arranger, one of the unsung heroes of Afro-Cuban Jazz !! (Scott Yanow)

Yesterday I pointed you to the death of Lee Young, drummer and brother of the great tenor sax player Lester Young. Althouh I searched for a decent picture of Lee I couldn't find one - maybe a result of the fact that the media didn't pay much attention to him. This morning I found a picture I love to share with you.

Keep swinging

Hans Koert


Nederlands ( To the English translation )

Chico O' Farrill, de Cubaanse bandleider en componist, wordt vaak vergeleken met Duke Ellington en dan ook genoemd The Duke Ellington of Latin Jazz. Lonehill Jazz heeft nu al zijn vroege opnamen uit de jaren vijftig opnieuw heruitgebracht en hierover wil ik graag morgen in de bijdrage: Chico O'Farrill - De Norman Granz Opnamen meer vertellen.
Wie zich toch vandaag wil verdiepen in een interessant onderwerp geef ik een paar bijdragen in overweging van ongeveer een jaar geleden getiteld Crumb - The Original Soundtrack
, over de documentaire die gaat over het leven van de excentrieke tekenaar - jazzverzamelaar Robert Crumb en een bijdrage over An Epochmaking Invention, over een, begin jaren dertig, vernieuwende uitvinding, de onbreekbare gramofoonplaat.

Hans Koert -

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