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Learn Latin Rhythms with O'Farrill

Nature and nurture have clearly joined forces where Arturo O’Farrill, pianist, composer and educator, is concerned. Son of a well-known jazz musician, O'Farrill is also a dynamic talent. Luckily, this 2003 Latin Jazz USA Outstanding Achievement Award winner is on hand on Jan. 30 to lead kids in joyful music making at Westport Arts Center's event, "Bang on a Drum: Latin Rhythms for Kids." With hands on demonstrations, clapping exercises and dancing, kids and their families can experience the vibrant rhythms that Afro Latin Jazz specialist O'Farrill knows so well.

He heard them at home, where O'Farrill was very influenced by the music and work ethic of his late father, jazz musician Chico O'Farrill. In an interview with, he describes the important musical messages he learned. "My father was constantly playing great music in the house. He had a 'set' music listening time in which he would sit in the living room with a cocktail, turn down the lights, and listen to his records. Everything from Brahms to Oscar Peterson to Messiaen. This ritual impressed me because of the commitment he made to concentrating on what he was listening to. My father exhorted me to be an active listener and to be the highest quality musician I could be."

As his father did, O'Farrill created his own band, the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra for Jazz, which performed at Lincoln Center in 2002. His extensive teaching experience includes being featured artist in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Jazz in the Schools Tour. In this role his Latin jazz quintet gave more than 50 performances to 10,000 students in schools in and around NYC.

O'Farrill's engaging workshop at WAC begins at 3 p.m. A cold winter's afternoon seems like just the right time to learn some hot Latin rhythms from a master. Tickets are $5-$15. For more information, visit WAC's website.

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