Arturo O’Farrill, pianist, composer, and educator, was born in Mexico and grew up in New York City. Arturo’s professional career began with the Carla Bley Band, then continued as a solo performer with a broad spectrum of artists, including Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Bowie, Wynton Marsalis, and Harry Belafonte, with many others along the way.
In December 2010, Arturo traveled with the original Chico O’Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra to Cuba, returning his father’s musicians to his homeland. He travels to Cuba regularly as an informal Cultural Ambassador, working with Cuban musicians, dancers, and students, bringing local musicians from Cuba to the US and American musicians to Cuba.
Arturo has performed with orchestras and bands including his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra and Arturo O’Farrill Sextet, as well as other Orchestras and intimate ensembles in the US, Europe, Russia, Australia, and South America.
An avid supporter of all the Arts, Arturo has performed with Ballet Hispanico and the Malpaso Dance Company, for whom he has written three ballets. In addition, the Alvin Ailey Dance Company has in its repertoire a ballet entitled Open Door, choreographed by Ron Brown to several of Arturo’s compositions and recordings. Ron Brown’s own Evidence Dance Company has commissioned Arturo to compose New Conversations, which premiered in the Summer of 2018 at Jacob’s Pillow in Becket, MA.
Arturo has received commissions from Meet the Composer, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and The Philadelphia. In 2020, Arturo’s weekly concerts with the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, dubbed Virtual Birdland, topped the list of 10 Best Quarantine Concerts in the New York Times.
Arturo’s well-reviewed and highly praised “Afro-Latin Jazz Suite” from the album CUBA: The Conversation Continues (Motéma) took the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition and the 2016 Latin Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Album. His powerful “Three Revolutions” from the album Familia – Tribute to Chico and Bebo was the 2018 Grammy Award (his sixth) winner for Best Instrumental Composition. Arturo’s album Four Questions (ZOHO) is the first to embody all original compositions, including the title track, which features the brilliant orator Dr. Cornel West. This album has won a Grammy for 2021.
Arturo was Artist in Residence for The Greene Space in New York City, for which he created a four-concert series, including a newly commissioned composition. The series title was Radical Acts and Musical Deviancy.
Arturo is Professor of Global Jazz Studies and Assistant Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), has been honored as a Steinway Artist for many years, and is now a Blue Note Records Recording Artist.