Original compositions have the potential to tell a story, which leaves the composer with a choice about the subject matter that they want to bring alive. It’s much easier to rely upon stylistic conventions and create a piece of music that repeats the same message that has been heard across the ages. When a composer takes the initiative to actually reflect upon the world around them, they bring a new type of energy and vitality to their art form. Consequently, the stylistic elements in their music take on new cultural meaning and bounce around the subject matter with an interesting connection.
One of the most powerful things about The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra is their ability to walk between the traditions of yesterday and the breaking events of today. Under the leadership of Arturo O’Farrill, The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra performs the classic repertoire in Latin Jazz, but they also make a point of bringing new works into the genre; they display an unparalleled artistry on this end that is constantly expanding the style. Fortunately, this extremely important service is grounded in the social consciousness of O’Farrill, who also serves as a steady composer for the group. He takes the responsibility of the Orchestra to push the style forward and his own responsibility to tell stories through his compositions very seriously.
This performance is a perfect example of the modern perspective of O’Farrill & The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, reflecting upon a recent political event. The song “A Wise Latina” celebrates the Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina to hold that seat. The deep meaning in the piece makes it come alive in a poignant way, showing O’Farrill’s depth as a composer and the potential behind telling an important story.
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