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Posted on on November 8th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

Last night the stage of the Symphony Space on Upper West Side, New York City, looked like the stage of the Puerto Rico National Cultural Center and the crowd like a gathering of Puerto Rico’s elite, even though the evening’s title was “A Different Take – Randy Weston.”

They came mainly because of A Wise Latina of the program that was titled rather as the Premiere of “Wise Latina Woman.” It was gracious Jazz in the well established style of the O’Farril family – samples of which, by Chico (the grandfather) and Adam (the grandson), were used as opening of the program.

Two other focal points of the program were “Soul and Culture Suite” by Bob Franceschini played with Arthuro O’Faril at the piano and Ivan Rechter on sax. Then the unforgettable Randy Weston, born in Brooklyn, New York, at the piano, a giant of a man, did his great African Jazz  compositions – “African Sunrise Suite,” “Blues to Africa,” and “African Village Bedford Stuyvesant.”

With all that great material – the novelty was nevertheless – A Wise Latina and the African aspects were clearly a further elaboration of the Puerto Rican culture that includes much of African origins.

Chico Ofarril (the ” ‘ ” was a later addition) came to the US from Cuba, and was a musician that worked with the likes of Machito and Gllespie. Arthuro’s album “Song for Chico,” his father, received a Grammy Award for “Best Latin Jazz Album.” Arthuro was born in Mexico.

Randy Weston is another original. Born in Brooklyn in 1926 and after absorbing the art of Jazz from America’s grates, he chose to travel through Africa and listen to local music – this now gives special color to his tone – without intending a pun – let me add here that the evening proved that “African” is rather mainly an issue of ethnicity and not race – only seeing it this way it becomes clear how the roots of this music survived the many transplantations in foreign lands – and are still culturally recognizable.

I would summarize the evening as great American-African-Latin Culture anchored in its American home in Puerto Rico.

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