Down Beat - "[I]t's range of feeling and relaxed melding of traditions makes it appealing, even brilliant at times."
JazzTimes (p.58) - "Whatever O'Farrill throws at us in his eclectic arrangements seems to work -- including tape samplings of foghorns on 'No Way Off'..."
Personnel: Arturo O'Farrill (piano, Fender Rhodes piano); Heather Bixler (violin); Cecilia Tenconi (flute); David Bixler (alto saxophone); Ivan Renta (tenor saxophone); Jim Seeley (trumpet); Boris Kozlov (acoustic bass, electric bass); Ricardo Rodriguez (acoustic bass); Vince Cherico (drums); Badal Roy (tabla).
Audio Mixers: Peter Karl; Arturo O'Farrill.
Recording information: Peter Karl Studios, Brooklyn, NY (04/12/2009-04/13/2009).
Photographer: Jerry Lacay.
Arturo O'Farrill's latest album is a family affair of sorts: his wife, Alison Deane, plays piano on three tracks, while his teenaged sons Adam and Zachary play trumpet and drums, respectively, on another. Throughout the disc, the music is a mix of funk, Latin, and swing grooves with fierce, technically adept, but ultimately soulful and exuberant soloing. Particular standouts include trumpeter Jim Seeley and alto saxophonist David Bixler, while O'Farrill himself maintains hypnotic montunos and rock-steady soul-jazz grooves on the piano and Fender Rhodes. The third track, "Blue State Blues," features a bass duel between Ricky Rodriguez (acoustic) and Boris Koslov (electric), with O'Farrill offering surprisingly avant-garde comping behind. The album's climax comes with the two-part, 15-minute "Tabla Rasa," which creates a head-spinning Cuban bop blend in its first half and in its second features a guest appearance by tabla master Badal Roy, who played with Miles Davis in the early '70s and has enjoyed a long fusion career since. He's surrounded by a Balkan-sounding violin, flute, some vocal chanting, and a whole bunch of other elements that somehow manage to cohere--much like the rest of the album. RISA NEGRA isn't quite jazz, and it isn't quite Latin jazz--it's more, and better, than either of those narrow categories.