Blog January 30, 2019
Photo Essay: The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra Plays Fela (and Tosin)

Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra dared to cover the master, Fela Kuti, and a cadre of musicians who have fallen under Afrobeat’s spell, over a two-night stand Jan. 25-26 at Symphony Space in Upper Manhattan.

All photos by the author
All photos by the author
Arturo O'Farrill
Arturo O'Farrill

The music adapted seamlessly to ALJO’s stage-spanning ensemble. It’s a tribute to both O’Farrill’s skills as an arranger and Fela’s skill as a composer that moving from a ALJO original, to Fela's repertoire, to tunes by the New York-based Afrobeat composer and percussionist Tosin Aribasala all felt very natural. 

Tosin Aribisala
Tosin Aribisala
Sahr Ngaujah
Sahr Ngaujah
Ahn Andre, Joi Hopkins, Wunmi
Ahn Andre, Joi Hopkins, Wunmi
Bryan Vargas
Bryan Vargas

All of these musicians cite Fela as an influence. Afrobeat is such a powerful and elastic genre that even arranged in a manner that its founder never approached—with a full on trombone section—it remains viscerally powerful. 

By the last song, “Zombie” naturally, the aisles filled with dancers. No one could help it.


Afropop Continue to Afropop.org