Friday, September 28, 2012

Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra Present: Falafel, Freilach, and Frijoles: From Mambo to Borscht - November 2 & 3 at Symphony Space

GRAMMY® Award Winners Arturo O'Farrill and the
Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra Present:
Falafel, Freilach, and Frijoles: From Mambo to Borscht

Program Examines Relationship Between 
Jewish and Latino Communities Through Music


First Concert of 2012/13 Season at 
Symphony Space, November 2 & 3, 2012 @ 8pm

Recent coverage of the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra:

New York, New York -- The Afro Latin Jazz Alliance is pleased to announce the inaugural performance of the 11th season of the GRAMMY® Award-winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO), directed by Arturo O'Farrill.  The program, titled Falafel, Freilach, and Frijoles: From Mambo to Borscht, will be presented at Symphony Space on Manhattan's Upper West Side on November 2 & 3, 2012.  Join us for a pre-performance discussion on Friday, November 2 at 7PM as we explore a convergence of cross-cultural musical styles from the Catskills, Northern Africa, Iberia, and the Middle East.  The Orchestra's sixth season at Symphony Space exemplifies the Alliance's commitment to presenting a large and diverse picture of Afro Latin jazz that acknowledges and celebrates its past, while embracing innovation and experimentation that propels the music forward.

General Admission is $50/$40/$30, Students/Seniors/Children $15, Symphony Space Members $40/$32/$24.  Take advantage of this special subscription offer: purchase two concert tickets for the 2012/2013 season and get a third concert admission for free! For tickets go to:, call 212.864.5400, or visit the box office.  For subscriptions, call or visit the box office.  Symphony Space is located at 95th Street and Broadway in Manhattan.
Falafel, Freilach, and Frijoles: From Mambo to Borscht will examine the long and venerable relationship between the Latino and Jewish communities.  The relationship between Jewish culture and Latin music dates back to Iberia prior to the Spanish Inquisition, and continued to pre-Castro Cuba - an era when Jewish families would visit the island and its nightclubs.  In the decades to follow, resorts started to pop up in the Catskills, and the Jewish community flocked to the Borscht Belt to dance to bands led by Tito Puente, Joe Cuba, and Eddie Palmieri, among others.  The burgeoning scene attracted musicians and fans alike and has been described as a "mecca for Latin music," resulting in the mambo being called "the Jewish waltz."  The ALJO will also explore the themes common to the larger Jewish and Latino communities, including a journey to the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and North Africa.

"Afro Latin Jazz has been deeply impacted by the support of the Jewish community, particularly in the New York region and especially by what is commonly called the Borscht Belt, a popular area for Jewish resorts in upstate New York," explains O'Farrill.  "This will be a deep exploration of the relationship between two great Diasporas encompassing the Semitic traditions that stretch from the Middle East to Miami Beach, from the tip of North Africa to the Bronx, and from the mountains of Russia to the Catskills."

Falafel, Freilach, and Frijoles: From Mambo to Borscht is loosely based on the famous album by Irving Fields, Bagels & Bongos, as well as the recording, Mazel Tov, Mis Amigos.  The evening will cast Jewish and Yiddish classics in Afro Latin big band versions, and set Latin classics in traditional Klezmer settings.  The Orchestra will feature original music and performances by guest artist trumpeter/slide trumpeter, composer Steven Bernstein, and that of ALJO member trombonist/composer, Israeli-born Rafi Malkiel.  "El Judio Maravilloso" Larry Harlow will be featured with the Orchestra performing classic Yiddish and Latin jazz compositions.

Larry Harlow is a true living legend of Afro-Cuban music. Affectionately nicknamed "el Judio Maravilloso" (The Marvelous Jew), Harlow is a renowned salsa bandleader and multi-instrumentalist, most noted as a pianist.  His earliest performances as a teenage bandleader were at the resorts in the Catskill Mountains.  Harlow, who is known for his innovative blend of Afro-Cuban and jazz styles of piano playing, studied music in the 1950s in Cuba, but was unable to complete his degree before the Cuban Revolution forced him to leave the island.  Orquesta Harlow was the second orchestra signed to the Fania label.  Harlow was the first piano player for the legendary salsa group known as the Fania All-Stars, and Fania's first record producer.  He produced over 260 albums for Fania Records between 1972 and 1976, including the acclaimed albums Sorpresa La FlautaLa Música BravaEl Campesino, and Latin Fever.  He has also produced over 106 albums for various artists and over 50 albums independently.  In 2008, he was presented with a Latin GRAMMY® Lifetime Achievement Award.  Harlow continues to lead and perform with Larry Harlow and the Fania Latin Legends.

Steven Bernstein is a trumpeter/slide trumpeter, bandleader, arranger, and composer who lives outside of musical convention.  He has released four critically acclaimed CDs:Diaspora Soul, Diaspora Blues (featuring the Sam Rivers Trio),Diaspora Hollywood, and Diaspora Suite.  All four are on John Zorn's Tzadik label.  Bernstein has played trumpet with a diverse group of artists including My Morning Jacket; Linda Ronstadt; David Murray; David Berger; Digable Planets; Sting; Medeski, Martin, and Wood; Courtney Love; Ryuichi Sakamoto; Don Byron; and Mocean Worker.  The trumpeter is also known for his work with The Lounge Lizards, Sex Mob (nominated for a 2006 GRAMMY® Award), Spanish Fly, and the Millennial Territory Orchestra.


Rafi MalkielComposer, trombonist, and euphonium player Rafi Malkiel, from Israel, has performed with artists such as Willie Colon, Arturo O'Farrill, Ray Anderson, and with Colombian singer Toto La Momposina. He also participated in Reggie Workman's John Coltrane Africa Brass Live project and Jason Lindner's Big Band.  He has recorded over forty Jazz, Latin, and Rock albums with artists such as Ray Anderson, Salsa Picante, Toto La Momposina, and Lauryn Hill.  In 2003 he formed The Rafi Malkiel Ensemble, a group of virtuosic musicians living in New York City that play original compositions and arrangements by Malkiel, fusing Jazz and Latin American standards with Afro Caribbean rhythms.  His debut album, My Island, features legendary tuba player Howard Johnson, bassist Andy González, clarinetist Anat Cohen, and many more.   


Arturo O'Farrill, pianist, composer, educator, and founder of the nonprofitAfro Latin Jazz Alliance, was born in Mexico, grew up in New York, and was educated at the Manhattan School of Music, Brooklyn College Conservatory, and the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College.  O'Farrill played piano with the Carla Bley Big Band from 1979 through 1983.  He then went on to develop as a solo performer and collaborate with a wide spectrum of artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Steve Turre, Freddy Cole, The Fort Apache Band, Lester Bowie, Wynton Marsalis, and Harry Belafonte. In 1995 Mr. O'Farrill agreed to direct the band that preserved much of his father's music, the Chico O'Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra, which recently concluded a 15-year residency at Birdland.  In 2002 he created the ALJO for Jazz at Lincoln Center due to a large body of music in the genre of Latin and Afro Cuban jazz that deserves to be more widely appreciated.  His debut album with the Orchestra, Una Noche Inolvidable, earned a GRAMMY® Award nomination in 2006, and the Orchestra's second album, Song for Chico, earned a GRAMMY® Award for Best Latin Jazz Album in 2009.  The ALJO's new album, 40 Acres and a Burro, was released to critical acclaim and was nominated for a 2012 GRAMMY® Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. O'Farrill recently released his first solo piano recording, The Noguchi Sessions.  He is a Steinway artist.  


The GRAMMY® Award-winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, soon to start its 11th season, was founded in 2002 by musician, composer, and educator Arturo O'Farrill.  The ALJO performs the full repertory of big band Afro Latin jazz, and commissions new works to advance this culturally rich genre.  The ALJO was a resident orchestra at Jazz at Lincoln Center from 2002 to 2007.  In 2007 the ALJO left Lincoln Center to pursue the twin goals of developing new audiences for big band Afro Latin jazz, and creating a robust educational program for young performers.  The ALJO performs an annual season at Symphony Space on Manhattan's Upper West Side, plays at the famed jazz club Birdland every Sunday evening as part of an ongoing residency, and continues to tour nationally and internationally to critical acclaim.

Founded in 2007, the nonprofit Afro Latin Jazz Alliance is dedicated to preserving the music and heritage of Afro Latin jazz, supporting its performance for new audiences, commissioning new work, and educating young people in the understanding and performance of this important cultural treasure.  The Alliance maintains a world-class collection of Latin jazz musical scores and recordings, and provides institutional support for the GRAMMY® Award-winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra.  As the ALJO celebrates its 11th season, the ALJA's educational and community outreach programs continue to flourish. For more information on the ALJA, ALJO, and Education Programs,  

The ALJO's 2012-13 Symphony Space season is sponsored by:
The work of the ALJA is made possible with support from: Foundations: Arnhold Foundation, Leonard Bernstein Family Foundation, BMI Foundation, Brenner Family Foundation, D'Addario Music Foundation, Fund for the City of New York, New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund, New York Community Trust/Lila Acheson Wallace Fund for the Arts, Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation; Corporate: Capital One, Colgate/Palmolive, Con Edison, Goya, WABC-TV; Public: City Council Member Gale Brewer, 1199/SEIU, and other generous individual donors.

For more information, please contact:

DL Media· (610)667-0501
Amy Miller·  

Afro Latin Jazz Alliance· (212)866-6634  
Nina Olson·