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Wednesday, Oct 30 1996
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Chico O'Farrill
Though rooted in the secular music of the Congolese, mambo was distinguished by modern Latin big bands (like that of Perez Prado) as a form where brass and sax riffs played against each other. Arrangers like Arturo "Chico" O'Farrill were freed to create contrapuntal soundscapes that fused bebop with Afro-Cuban rhythms, and consequently became as big a group of stars as the bandleaders. In early '50s New York City, jazz impresario Norman Granz commissioned O'Farrill to write extended works; the results marked a major progressive point in the fusion of Latin and jazz. "The Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite" was written for the Machito Orchestra, which included Charlie Parker, Flip Phillips, and Buddy Rich; "The Manteca Suite" was arranged specifically for Dizzy Gillespie. Mambo gained a new sound, and left the ballrooms for Carnegie Hall. O'Farrill now brings an all-star orchestra (including Latin jazzers Andy and Jerry Gonzalez) to do three things: play selections from Pure Emotion, his first album in decades (released last year); celebrate his 75th birthday; and spin a web of mambo for moderns.

Jesse "Chuy" Varela

The Chico O'Farrill Orchestra plays Friday and Saturday, Nov. 1 and 2, at 8 and 10:30 p.m. at Bimbo's 365 Club, 1025 Columbus. Tickets are $20 Friday and $22 Saturday; call 474-0365.

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Jesse "Chuy" Varela

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