Allan kealy
Photo by Allan

After performing at his usual Sunday gig at Bird Land New York,one of the music worlds greatest and most respected composers and performers of Latin Jazz Arturo O’Farrill made the 21 hour flight from New York to perform in Bird’s Basement Jazz Club Melbourne, Australia.
Arturo O’Farrill and his 7 piece band arrived in Melbourne Australia for a season at Melbourne’s Iconic Bird’s Basement Jazz Club.This was the first visit to Australia by Latin Jazz musician Arturo and his band playing two concerts a night to capacity and appreciative audiences.
And they kept coming night after night hanging on every arrangement that O’Farrill performed form his original compositions to a variety of other composers from the Latin Jazz genre. Arturo is of course no stranger to the world of Afro Cuban Jazz, the Son of the legendary Chico O’Farrill Arturo was influenced by possibly the best exponent of Afro Cuban Jazz in history. Arturo’s credentials as composer, arranger, pianist and educator are well documented as are his many awards, and Grammy’s, but he is not a musician who commands the stage, indeed his 7 piece band all from New York had the Australian patrons applauding every solo that they delivered.

Every one of his support players is an outstanding musician and Arturo gave them that the space to shine. Arturo is not the first band leader to acknowledge the value of performing with musicians of a high calibre,but Arturo does it with great humility and compassion. Arturo O’Farrill is a man who wears his heart on his sleeve,and is well known for his out spoken campaigns against power brokers, corrupt bankers, war’s and the like. His personal philosophy is that musicians and artists have a responsibility to challenge the many injustices that are inflicted on the citizens of the world and he is living testimony to that belief.

“During 2010 Arturo O’Farrill travelled to Cuba with his mother, sons, and the Chico O’Farrill Afro Cuban Orchestra in order to bring his Father’s music back to the island.There, the band headlined the 26th Havana International Jazz Plaza Festival.
On August 14, 2015, Arturo O’Farrill was among those who were invited to witness the moment the U.S. flag was raised over a newly reopened U.S. Embassy in Cuba for the first time in 54 years. And today Arturo maintains an on going commitment and respect for the people of Cuba.” (Wikipedia)

This compassion for Humanity was not lost on the patrons of Bird’s Basement in Melbourne indeed they left at the end of each performance in the knowledge that they had jus been part of a musical experience that was challenging and performed with passion and credibility from a musician and his band who believe that change is not only essential but that with the help of all musicians and artist it will be achieved. Like all touring Musicians Arturo and his band had no time to enjoy the magic that is Melbourne, living out of a hotel and commuting to the gig every night seems to be their world.
Upon playing their last night at Bird’s Basement Arturo and band had nothing but admiration for the management and staff of what they claim to be a world class Jazz venue and all vowed to return.Catching a flight the next Day they returned to New York where upon arriving Arturo was awarded another acknowledgement for composition.And, as would be expected Arturo has also shown his support and compassion for the Indigenous people at Standing Rock Indian reservation in the recent weeks.