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Heart of a Legend by Chico O'Farrill

Well, you know what they say, "better late than never." At nearly 80 years old, widespread recognition has taken its good old time in catching up with composer and band leader Chico O'Farrill, but it looks like his moment has finally come. Putting this new release in perspective, remember that after a quick spell of sessions in the '50s, Chico's only other extant recordings as a leader were mid-'60s affairs for Verve (MARRIED WELL) and Impulse (NINE FLAGS and SPANISH RICE). Then, five years ago, O'Farrill was brought out of retirement for the critically-acclaimed PURE EMOTION and now we have this new effort, which packs an even greater punch and adds considerably to his meager catalog.

With charts written by O'Farrill and the musical leadership and piano provided by son Arturo (who also shines on two solo piano performances), the 23-piece Afro-Cuban Jazz Big Band struts it stuff through a savory bit of salsa that proves once again what a treasure O'Farrill is as a writer and arranger. Then for added spice, the all-star guest list includes Gato Barbieri (positively exquisite on "Te Quiero"), Cachao, Freddy Cole, Paquito D'Rivera, Arturo Sandoval (his melancholy duet with Arturo, "The Journey", is an album highlight), Candido, Potato, and Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros. With just the right combination of Latin spunk and jazz savvy, HEART OF A LEGEND will please fans of both camps. Let's just hope it's not another five years until we get its successor!

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Chico O'Farrill
  • CD Title: Heart of a Legend
  • Year Released: 1999
  • Record Label: Milestone
  • Rating: Five Stars
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