Arturo O’Farrill: Grammy Award for “Fandango at the Wall in New York”

Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz for the album Fandango at the Wall in New York. With Mexican and Cuban roots, O’Farrill—a professor of Global Jazz Studies and assistant dean for equity, diversity, and inclusion at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music—is best known for his expertise in Afro-Cuban jazz. As the School of Music reports, other musicians and composers connected to the school were Grammy winners. Born and raised in New Orleans, Terence Blanchard received the award for Best Opera Recording for Fire Shut Up in My Bones. See more at  Herb Alpert School of Music.

It was another good year for America’s #1 public university at the Grammys.

Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Album for Fandango at the Wall in New York, featuring the Congra Patria Son Jarocho Collective. The album stemmed from Varda Bar Kar’s powerful documentary, Fandango at the Wall, which traced the lineages of fandango dance across Mexico to the border wall in Tijuana. The documentary was a powerful lesson in how music and dance unite people across arbitrary lines (and border walls) erected by governments.

Best Opera Recording went to Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones. Blanchard, professor of music and the Kenny Burrell Chair in Jazz Studies, has previously won five Grammys. His opera, which adapted the memoir of New York Times columnist Charles Blow, premiered in 2019 with the St. Louis Opera and has been performed at the Lyric Opera of Chicago before leading off the New York Metropolitan Opera 2021-22 season. It was the first time in its 140 year history that the Met had performed an opera written by a Black composer. The recording has drawn lavish critical praise.

A principal soloist on the album is opera superstar and UCLA alum Angel Blue. Blue, whose performance in Porgy and Bess won the best opera recording Grammy in 2021, recently returned to UCLA for an emotional homecoming. She performed the inaugural Judith L. Smith Voice Recital at Schoenberg Hall and held a public masterclass for budding opera talents in the School of Music. 

Wayne Shorter, adjunct professor at the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz in the School of Music, won in the category of Best Improvised Jazz Solo for “Endangered Species,” bringing his Grammy Award total to an even dozen. [. . .]

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[Photo above by Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images.]

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