The campaign to punch Chico O'Farrill into the general consciousness continues with what amounts to an anthology of his work, all freshly and brilliantly played by the Chico O'Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Big Band directed by his pianist son Arturo. The material on hand goes back to a 1956 cha-cha written on a plane ride to Havana, but the unifying thread is a suite from the film Guaguasi scattered in pieces throughout the album. It is an often astonishingly diverse portrait of O'Farrill, reflecting not only his percolating Afro-Cuban rhythmic base but also some of his other musical directions. There is a Basie-style big-band blues, "Sing Your Blues Away," with Freddie Cole doing a credible job as velvety blues shouter; a lightweight, fluffy thing called "Te Quiero" with flute/female choruses and a lascivious Gato Barbieri on tenor; and a recent Latin jazz suite of relatively modest proportions, "Trumpet Fantasy (For Wynton)." The best stuff comes early on: the marvelous "Theme From Guaguasi," a heartfelt Afro-Cuban workout in 6/8 time called "Momentum," which is really a renamed piece inspired by the 1962 Cuban missile crisis ("Cuban Conflagration") that was rescued from oblivion for this album. Several other famous Latin jazz names turn up in fine form: Paquito D'Rivera, Cachao, Candido, Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros, Carlos "Patato" Valdes, and, in a closing duet, Arturo O'Farrill and Arturo Sandoval. There are a lot of board fades on these tracks, a highly unusual practice in the '90s on a jazz album. Though not as essential as Pure Emotion, this CD confirms the continued vitality of this 77-year-old master.
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AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell