Grammy-winning jazz ensemble Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra packed the house Friday at the Strathmore in Montgomery County’s, where it infused big-band jazz with smooth rhythm and blues.
Featuring 18 of some of the world’s most accomplished musicians alongside lead pianist, composer, and director Arturo O’Farrill, the show featured the big sounds of Latin rhythm infused with traditional African chords
The show also featured a special spoken-word segment by philosopher, political activist and social critic Cornel West, who made a conscience call for morality.
“What does honesty do in the face of deception? What does it mean to be an honest human being?” West said whiled accompanied by the playing band. “In a world that has been domesticated in lies, lies, lies, in which criminality has affected so many lives, who try to hide and conceal the crimes, where they don’t want to be morally consistent or spiritually consistent — so that a baby born in Mexico has the same value as a baby born in Maryland, so that a baby born in Ethiopia has the same value as a baby born in Guatemala, so that a Jewish baby born in Tel Aviv has the same value as a baby born in Palestine. Do we have what it takes to be consistent, to embrace each other? That’s what this music is about. It’s not mere entertainment.”
O’Farrill also made sure to dedicate a special song to Cuba in the wake of potentially devastating political relations between the small country and the United States under President Donald Trump. He made mention of the band’s 2015 album “Cuba: The Conversation Continues,” released when the two countries first began reestablishing diplomatic ties.
“We love Cuba,” O’Farrill said. “We’ve come such a long way and now that tremendous progress is being threatened.”
As fans gave a standing ovation at the performance’s end, audience member Juliet Mcgaul gushed at the opportunity to witness the performance.
“What a great show,” Mcgaul said. “I loved every minute of it. It was so entertaining and also sent out a really good message.”