Chico O'Farrill

The Rhythmic Spell

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Born in Cuba, Chico O'Farrill began his musical career as a trumpeter. However his writing skills were so strong that, by the time he moved to the United States in the late 1940s, he worked primarily as an arranger-composer. His exciting Afro-Cuban charts for his own groups, Machito, Benny Goodman and others were stirring, historic and innovative. In 1957 O'Farrill moved to Mexico where he carved out a career for himself during the next eight years in which he mostly did commercial work. This particular set, recorded in 1958, reissues one of his first Mexican sessions. The results are primarily melodic dance music, using cool-toned players and closer to Count Basie musically than to Dizzy Gillespie. The performances are quite concise, leaving very little room for soloing other than from altoist Hector "El Arabe" Hallal and guest trumpeter Cesar Molina. O'Farrill is also heard in brief spots on trumpet but the emphasis is on the ensembles of the mostly unidentified studio orchestra which also occasionally includes strings. The final four selections are from El Arabe's own similar orchestra during the same period. Except for the wavering soprano on "Serenade in Blue," the music overall is pleasant, pleasing and danceable without ever really catching fire.