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Afro Latin Jazz Composer Pays Tribute to Father with Apollo Premiere

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As the Apollo Theater celebrates its 80th anniversary, it has commissioned a brand new work by Brooklyn composer and bandleader Arturo O'Farrill that's set to premiere this coming Saturday. NY1's Stephanie Simon filed the following report.

After a career spent trying to escape the shadow of his famous father, it seems Arturo O'Farill has surprised even himself by writing a new orchestral work in honor of the late great composer and bandleader Chico O'Farrill.

"I really battled with the idea of writing this piece and being compared to my father yet again. But what I realized that's nonsense and it's a nonsensical game to compare people to people especially fathers to sons and my father is somebody worth commemorating and evoking and commenting on," says O'Farrill.

NY1 caught a recent rehearsal as Arturo and his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra prepares for the world premier of Afro Latin Jazz Suite. It's inspired by his dad's most famous work, "The Afro Cuban Jazz Suite."

"That's another one of my father's motifs, I mix it up with mine," says O'Farrill.

Stephanie Simon: What would your dad think if he were to hear the song?

Arturo O'Farill I would love to think he would say, 'Gee I wish I had written that.'

But Arturo has even broader musical conversations in mind. The suite brings together unexpected Latin American sounds with traditional African rhythms.

O'Farrill is an accomplished bandleader, educator, and Grammy winner. He has a new album out, and he's working on a new Afro Cuban version of the opera "Carmen" which he hopes to bring to Broadway in the next two years.

For more information, visit www.afrolatinjazz.org and www.apollotheater.org.

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