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Arturo “Chico” O’Farrill Archives Acquired by Institute of Jazz Studies

March 21, 2019

Chico O'Farrill's son, Arturo, performs at the Institute of Jazz Studies in 2016. Credit: Ed Berger.

The Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University is now the permanent home of the Arturo "Chico" O'Farrill Music and Personal Archives, the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance announced yesterday. This marks the acquisition of the first major Latin jazz archival collection in the Institute's 60-year history.

The collection contains O'Farrill's original music manuscripts, photographs, and sound recordings documenting his prolific career as a composer, arranger, and bandleader. Famed compositions such as “Afro Cuban Jazz Suite,” “Manteca Suite,” “Carambola,” and “Cuban Episode,” among others, are included in this acquisition for the institute. The institute is thrilled to add O’Farrill’s illustrious archives to its collection to celebrate Chico's monumental impact in jazz during his lifetime.

The O'Farrill collection will share a home with other great jazz archives, such as Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Mary Lou Williams, Annie Ross, Benny Carter, and Abbey Lincoln. The collection was donated to the institute by the O'Farrill Family and Estate. Through this generous donation, Chico's legacy will be available for study and enjoyment for generations to come.

"We are honored to have been selected to be the new home for the Chico O’Farrill collection," said Adriana P. Cuervo, head of Archival Collections and Services at John Cotton Dana Library. "It is very important to us to be able to preserve jazz history, and Chico’s collection is a major step for us in capturing a comprehensive picture of jazz and its diverse influences."

"On behalf of the O'Farrill family, we wish to thank the Institute of Jazz Studies for providing a home to Chico O'Farrill's musical legacy,” said composer/pianist/educator Arturo O'Farrill. “Chico would've been honored to know that his work is now available to scholars and students of jazz history. His contributions to jazz are remarkable for the vision and excellence he brought to this field. He was a pioneer and laid the foundation for Afro Latin jazz."

To commemorate the musical tradition and lineage of the O’Farrill family, Manhattan School of Music faculty member Arturo O’Farrill will lead the MSM Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra for a special evening of music on March 28 featuring compositions by Arturo, his father Chico, and his son Adam.