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The Afro Latin Jazz Alliance Presents CELEBRATING CARLA BLEY

Featuring the world premiere of "Blue Palestine."

The Afro Latin Jazz Alliance Presents CELEBRATING CARLA BLEY

Multi-GRAMMY Award-winning pianist/composer/bandleader Arturo O'Farrill and nonprofit the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance (ALJA) present the "World Premiere" of Carla Bley's new composition "BLUE PALESTINE" set to be featured on the free weekly ALJA digital program, Virtual Birdland, on Sunday, March 28, 2021 (8:30pm EST).

Carla Bley is a legend of the jazz genre who has composed some of the most mystifying, challenging, and ecstatic music of the 20th and 21st centuries. O'Farrill and his 18-member Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra honor the leading-edge composer to celebrate her work and spirit that's graced the jazz scene for 55 years. Bley has written "BLUE PALESTINE" especially for O'Farrill and his award-winning orchestra.

A member of one of Bley's touring ensembles early in his own career, O'Farrill relishes one of his mentors, and says, "Carla Bley is a true original. She is as committed to vision and integrity as any jazz voice in the history of this art form. She took a chance on a teenager and gave him wings to fly. I can't think of a higher honor than to acknowledge publicly what a huge impact she has made on my work and on all of our lives. It's very, very simple: Carla is one of those heroes that defines the very medium she advances, even as she goes way beyond it."

Bley comments, "Once upon a time, a 17-year-old Arturo O'Farrill was the newcomer in my big band. I had hired him because he was cute and funny. But he turned out to be a hell of a piano-player too. Last year, when he asked me to write a piece for his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra I immediately jumped at the opportunity; I had kept up with his playing and writing, and I knew that he would present me with great players. I assume that they are all cute and funny too."

Bley's fascination with Palestine began many years ago even though she has admittedly never visited the country. Bley writes "BLUE PALESTINE" as a fantasy emulating her naive desire to draw attention to the people of that country. Palestinians meaningfully express something that relates to what Western artists refer to as "the blues" in their music and everyday lives. She writes "BLUE PALESTINE" to convey, "we hear you."

Bley shares, "I started writing a simple blues, in 7/4. A melody from an old Hollywood movie, The Thief Of Baghdad, starring Sabu (whom I had a crush on at the time), had been in my mind ever since I was 12. It gave me an initial melodic idea, and in 7/4, it sounded vaguely Middle Eastern to me. Steve Swallow, who had worked with Rabih Abouh Khalil and knew about exotic time signatures, told me that Rabih had asked him not to harmonize the melodies that were being played. That inspired the next section. I then just followed my imagination."

Virtual Birdland exclusively brings to music fans worldwide Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra's legendary weekly Sunday evening Birdland residency with 18 artists and special guests performing their hearts out, in the comfort and safety of their own homes. O'Farrill has led nearly 50 free concerts with the Virtual Birdland digital series since the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic reaching hundreds of thousands of online fans.

Virtual Birdland is a featured program of the ALJA Digital Village, which serves the community during the COVID-19 pandemic with enhanced online initiatives. In addition to master classes led by expert teachers along with interactive conversations, archival concerts, and streaming performances by a host of acclaimed musicians, its flagship program is Virtual Birdland. In March 2021, ALJA's Digital Village will highlight an array of lauded women artists who have collaborated with ALJA over the last several years in celebration of Women's History Month.

Tune in to Virtual Birdland for the Carla Bley tribute show on the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance's digital platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, and their Website.


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