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With 'Four Questions,' Arturo O'Farrill finds inspiration, not just of the musical kind / Hollywood Soapbox

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Hollywood Soapbox - John Soltes writes......Arturo O'Farrill, who heads The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, has always brought the real world into his musical compositions, and that's especially true of his latest release, Four Questions, featuring well-known academic Dr. Cornel West. The album was met with acclaim in 2020 and received a Grammy nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album.

The title of the album is pulled from the original composition featuring West on the album. The 16-minute piece pairs the academic's voice with the measured musical musings of the orchestra. Surrounding this central tune are other songs that speak to the versatility of O'Farrill's creative output, including "Baby Jack," "Jazz Twins," "Clump, Unclump" and the "A Still, Small Voice" series.

"What happened was I had been very interested in Dr. West's speaking for many, many years," O'Farrill said in a recent phone interview. "You can't help but be aware of Dr. West, and periodically he would come to a show. And I'd see him in the audience."

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