The Arty Semite

Latin Rhythms for Tired Feet

By Matthew Kassel

On Friday afternoon I walked from my home in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn to 34th Street in Manhattan. From there I caught a train uptown to Symphony Space to see Arturo O’Farrill and his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, with assorted guests, blend Latin rhythms with Jewish melodies.

John Abbott

My feet ached when I got to the venue and I probably should have taken a cab or a bus. (Subway service into Manhattan was suspended in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.) But it felt extremely good to plop down into a chair for roughly two hours and feel the vibrant pulse of Latin music radiate from the stage before me.

Called “Falafel, Freilach and Frijoles: From Mambo to Borscht,” the show drew inspiration from the Latin dance bands of Tito Puente, Machito Grillo and others that toured the resorts of the Borsch Belt in the middle of the 20th Century. It also gave a nod to Irving Fields’s kitschy 1959 release, “Bagels and Bongos,” which served as a kind of precedent.

The 18-piece orchestra opened with “Holiday Mambo,” which uses the melody of “Hava Nagila.” It was recorded by Machito and his Afro-Cuban Orchestra more than 50 years ago and arranged by the late Cuban composer Chico O’Farrill, father of Arturo.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Music, Falafel Freilach and Frijoles, Matthew Kassel, Arturo O'Farrill, Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra




Find us on Facebook!
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.