Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra with Arturo O’Farrill

Henoch Derbew

On June 28, Palmetto Records released “Una Noche Involvidable” (An Unforgettable Night), a recording of a January 28 performance at the Fredrick P. Rose Hall in Lincoln Center. On this night, famed Afro-Latin vocalists Herman Olivera and Claudia Acuna were invited to perform with the big band for an evening of exciting Latin-Jazz rhythms.

The concert transports the listener to a hot summer night in Spanish Harlem or Havana, where Latin is the atmosphere for the evening. The vocalists do a superb job, using their voices to add a perfect serenade of Latin music over the sounds of the very professional house big band. It is the job of the big band to ground the performance in jazz, and they do it amazingly well. However, the overall sound of the album has a distinctly Latin feel: the brass of the band, the smooth lyrics that the vocalists sooth the listener with and the legendary Latin percussion.

Bandleader and pianist Arturo O’Farrill put it best when he described the genre of Latin-Jazz. “Think of Latin and Jazz as cousins from the same root separated at birth during the African Diaspora and reunited decades later at the dance halls of New York City,” he said. O’Farrill pays tribute to those before him, such as Dizzy Gillespie and Tito Puente, who also experimented with reuniting these two genres to create – or re-discover – Latin-Jazz.

Every track on this album is a treat. The styles range from slow love songs to fast-paced celebration type music that only fits in a place like a carnival. It’s a great listen and a perfect album where you can choose any track and just start listening.