Arturo O’Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra

The Cuban Khaleeji Project

Featuring Ali Obaid, Ghazi al Mulaifi & Boom.Diwan, Malika Zarra and Yazz Ahmed

A Co-Presentation of Little Island and the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance

Little Island and the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance co-present Grammy Award Winning artist Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra! This headlining act for Island Music Week showcases a musical exploration of Afro Latin and Middle Eastern seafaring traditions, drawing from the work of the Cuban Khaleeji Project which traces the connection between Arabic and Afro Cuban music along waterways. Be transported to faraway coasts with sounds and rhythms from guest artists including Kuwaiti percussion ensemble Boom.Diwan, led by composer Ghazi Al-Mulaifi, British-Bahraini trumpet player Yazz Ahmed, Moroccan vocalist Malika Zarra and Emerati oud master Ali Obaid. 

“Cuba meets Khaleeji perfectly captures the idea that music is a migratory force, the music we call jazz or Afro Cuban jazz is informed by the far east, the middle east, south Asia and filtered through Mother Africa. When the enslaved peoples were brought to these shores against their will, they brought the language of the planet. They brought the truth that culture, especially music, is more powerful than geography, governance, nationalism, and even more powerful than hatred and oppression.” – Arturo O’Farrill

Special thanks to the Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi and their Executive Artistic Director, Bill Bragin, who originally commissioned and first presented the Cuban Khaleeji Project at NYU Abu Dhabi in February of 2019.



Arturo O’Farrill, Piano and Artistic Director

Jasper Dutz , alto
Adison Evans, alto
Iván Renta, tenor
Sun Yoo, tenor
Larry Bustamante
, baritone

Bryan Davis
Jim Seeley

Adam O’Farrill
Rachel Therrien

Rafi Malkiel
Abulrahman “Rocky” Amer
Mark Peterson
Earl McIntyre
, bass trombone

Vince Cherico, drums & timbales
Carlos “Carly” Maldonado, percussion
Keisel Jiménez, percussion
Liany Mateo, bass

Ali Obaid, oud

Ghazi Al-Mulaifi, guitar and vocals
Hamad M H M F Ben Hussain, percussion
Hamed N A S Saeed, percussion
Salem N A S Almuzaiel,  percussion
Yaqoub Y A R Almozaiel, percussion

Malika Zarra, voice & effects

Yazz Ahmed, trumpet & effects


Amino Belyamini,  piano & percussion

Mamadou Ba, bass

Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra: The Cuban Khaleeji Project runs approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.


(Please note that order is subject to change)

Friday & Saturday

Afro Latin Jazz Suite, Mvmt. I: Mother Africa
Arturo O’Farrill

A Shoal Of Souls
Yazz Ahmed (arr. Noel Langley)

La Saboteuse
Yazz Ahmed

A Paradise In The Hold
Yazz Ahmed

First Love
Ali Obaid (arr. Osama Ismail)

Longa Nahawand
Ali Obaid (arr. Osama Ismail)

From Fujairah to New York
Ali Obaid (arr. Osama Ismail)

Malika Zarra (arr. Kalí Rodríguez-Peña)

Malika Zarra (arr. Kalí Rodríguez-Peña)

Machito (arr. René Hernández)

Ach Dani
Traditional (arr. Malika Zarra & Liberté-Anne Lymberiou)

Ana Mashoof
Ghazi al Mulaifi (arr. Rémy Labbé)

Ghazi al Mulaifi (arr. Alex Conde)

Ghazi al Mulaifi (arr. Kalí Rodríguez-Peña)

Rafi Malkiel

Abdulrahman Amer


Lahan Al Mansour
Yazz Ahmed

She Stands On The Shore
Yazz Ahmed

Jamil Jamal
Yazz Ahmed

Malika Zarra

Malika Zarra

Malika Zarra

Ghazi Al-Mulaifi & Boom Diwan

Daza Guaguanco
Ghazi Al-Mulaifi & Boom Diwan

Sawt Arabi
Ghazi Al-Mulaifi & Boom Diwan

Ghazi Al-Mulaifi & Boom Diwan

Ali Obaid

Rafi Malkiel

Lighting Design by Trevor Dewey



GRAMMY Award-winning pianist, composer, and educator Arturo O’Farrill—leader of the “first family of Afro-Cuban Jazz” (New York Times)—was born in Mexico and grew up in New York City. Son of the late, great composer Chico O’Farrill, Arturo played piano in Carla Bley’s Big Band from 1979 through 1983 and earned a reputation as a soloist in groups led by Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Bowie, Wynton Marsalis, and Harry Belafonte. In 2002, he established the GRAMMY Award-winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO) to bring the vital musical traditions of Afro Latin jazz to a wider general audience, and to greatly expand the contemporary Latin jazz big band repertoire through commissions to artists across a wide stylistic and geographic range. In March 2021, O’Farrill and the ALJO won their 7th GRAMMY for Four Questions, with Cornel West as guest orator. In September 2018, O’Farrill released his album, Fandango at the Wall: A Soundtrack for the United States, Mexico, and Beyond, which was also released as a documentary for HBO MAX. In 2019, O’Farrill was appointed Professor at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music in the Global Jazz Studies department and is currently the Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. O’Farrill’s debut recording with Blue Note Records …dreaming in lions… is nominated for a 2022 GRAMMY Award in the “Best Instrumental Composition” category, and his album, Virtual Birdland (ZOHO), is nominated for “Best Latin Jazz Album.” O’Farrill is a Steinway Artist and records for Blue Note Records.

ALI OBAID Hailing from the Emirate of Fujairah, Ali Obaid is the leader of Takht Al Emarat, the Fujairah Band of Arabic Music, the Fujairah Orchestra, and director of the Fujairah Academy of Fine Art. His work has been on the forefront of developing urban Arab music in the UAE and one of bringing together Egyptian, Iraqi, and Gulf music to develop a unique Pan-Arab musical cosmopolitanism. Obaid is the ambassador of the musical heritage of Fujairah, one of the most important teaching institutions in the country that brings authentic and accurate representation and enriches the understanding of musical instruments such as the Oud.

GHAZI AL-MULAIFI & BOOM.DIWAN Kuwaiti-American applied-ethnomusicologist and professor of music, Ghazi Faisal Al-Mulaifi, earned his Doctorate of Philosophy from NYU (2015) and founded Boom Diwan, a collaborative jazz ensemble inspired by the cosmopolitan Kuwaiti seafaring music of Indian Ocean trade, with influences spanning from Zanzibar to Calicut. The Boom, the most important ship in Kuwait, was used for pearl diving and for merchant trade. This serves as a metaphor for the musical exploration that Boom.Diwan engages in. The Diwan (music) is a place where traditional Kuwaiti seafaring music ensembles preserve and pass on traditional Kuwaiti music. This is also a metaphor for the exchange between Boom.Diwan with other musicians; regardless of genre, style, or culture. Ghazi, together with traditional Kuwaiti musicians dialogue Kuwaiti bahri (sea) music with global jazz traditions for the purpose of creating a new Kuwaiti music that revives a musical tradition of dialogue and exchange.

MALIKA ZARRA Award-winning mezzo-soprano vocalist Malika Zarra is a multi-cultural shape-shifter who leaps effortlessly between seemingly unconnected languages and traditions, uniting them while utilizing each to enrich audiences. Zarra has a rare ability to communicate powerful and subtle feelings in Berber, Moroccan Arabic, French and English. Upon moving to New York City from initially Morocco and then Paris, Zarra’s repertoire incorporates her native Berber, Gnawa (a percussive form of religious trance music), Chaabi (Arabic working-class blues), French pop, and jazz rhythms. Zarra has become an in-demand headliner at concert halls and festivals across the globe, and has recorded and/or performed with Makoto Ozone, John Zorn, Arturo O’Farrill, Aruan Ortiz, Tommy Campbell (Dizzy Gillespie), Will Calhoun (Living Color), Lonnie Plaxico (Cassandra Wilson), and countless others.

YAZZ AHMED British-Bahraini trumpet player Yazz Ahmed has led her ensembles in performances across the UK & Europe, and further afield in Algeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, USA & Canada. She has also enchanted audiences at major festivals such as WOMAD, Love Supreme, NYC Winter Jazz Fest & Pori Jazz. Ahmed’s career includes high profile collaborations with the likes of Radiohead, Lee Scratch Perry, Transglobal Underground, Arturo O’Farrill, and Natacha Atlas, including a world tour with These New Puritans. Yazz was nominated for Downbeat Magazine’s ‘Trumpet Artist of The Year’ and featured in the ‘Rising Star Trumpet’ category in the 2020 Downbeat critics’ poll. And at the close of 2020, she won the “Jazz FM Award” for UK Jazz Act of the Year, “Jazz FM Album of The Year,” and the highly prestigious Ivor Novello Award for Innovation.

AMINO BELYAMINI (Sunday only) Amino Belyamani is a composer and multi-instrumentalist born and raised in Casablanca, Morocco. His music projects reflect a rich diversity of influences: from complex African rhythms and Arabic melodies, to western classical music, electro-acoustic music, and jazz. Amino co-founded the critically acclaimed band Dawn of Midi, whose second studio album Dysnomia received international press and praise. He is a founding member of Innov Gnawa, a traditional Moroccan trance ensemble, which was nominated for the Best Dance Recording Grammy in 2018 for their track “Bambro Koyo Ganda” on Bonobo’s album Migration. He has performed with world-renowned artists, including Dimi Mint Abba, Charlie Haden, Albert “Tootie” Heath, Hamid El Kasri, Hassan Hakmoun, Alfred Ladzekpo, and Houman Pourmehdi. In the effort to constantly expand his repertoire to new mediums, Amino’s last composition was for the Radiolab series on NPR, The Other Latif.

MAMADOU BA (Sunday only) Mamadou Ba was born in Dakar, Senegal. He is a self-taught bassist who came to prominence while working with the group Keurgui that he created with his brother. They toured West Africa and Europe and collaborated with great artists such as the American saxophonist Archie Shepp. He also toured extensively with Segalese singer-songwriter Ismael Lô. In New York, he joined Harry Belafonte’s orchestra and eventually became his musical director. He has worked with Richard Bona and the Barrio Boys, KJ Denhert, Leni Stern, Regina Carter, Angelique Kidjo, Mino Cinelu, Malika Zarra and Kiran Ahluwalia and has recorded with Lionel Loueke. Mamadou is a founding member of the celebrated “African Blue Note Band,” famous for holding the fort of African music on the New York scene since the 90s.


The Afro Latin Jazz Alliance produces performances, educates about, and preserves the music of all the Americas, emanating from African and indigenous roots, through the entry point of jazz. ALJA embraces its mission with a commitment to social justice, equity, inclusion, and equality of all cultures.

ALJA is honored to be a part of the Timbale Terrace project coming to the East Harlem community in 2027.








“October 28, 2021 marks the centennial of Arturo “Chico” O’Farrill. As a composer he showed us the greatest lesson possible. The Afro Cuban Jazz Suite is an example of taking an artistic chance, putting it all on the line just as he was starting out in his career. In the time when he wrote his masterpiece, the state of the art in jazz was Charlie Parker, the discovery of Cuba was the only acknowledgment of Latin influence in jazz and only Duke Ellington was writing extended multimovement suites with any success. Somehow Chico connected Europe, Africa, Cuba, and the Americas and single-handedly changed the face of modern music.”
– Arturo O’Farrill

Marietta Ulacia
Executive Director

Arturo O’Farrill
Artistic Director

Andrea Thompson
Director of Development

Stefan Andemicael
Director of Administration & Operations

Eric Taller
Director of Performance Programs

Zack O’Farrill
Director of Education Programs

Felipe Tristan
Creative Partnerships Manager

Isabel Rolston
Development and Board Liaison Associate

Diane Thompson
Development Manager

Andrew Andron
Music Administration Manager

Alberto Miranda
Production Manager

Sanyette McKee
Executive Assistant/Education Administrator

Eduardo (Eddy) Castell, Chairman
M. Carlota Perez-Applebaum, Vice Chair
Michelle Gee, Treasurer
Marc Landis, Secretary
Hector R. Cordero-Guzman, Ph.D.
Jane Holzka, PhD
Errol Louis
Ramki Muthukrishnan
Arturo O’Farrill
Leonor (Lee) Rodriguez
Claude Salzberger
James Seeley
William C. Thompson, Jr.
James R. Wacht

Mellon Foundation

Arnhold Foundation
Baisley Powell Elebash Fund
Donald A Pels Charitable Trust
Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation
Ford Foundation
Hispanic Federation
Howard Gilman Foundation
Mellon Foundation

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine
National Endowment for the Arts
New York City Department of Cultural Affairs
New York State Council on the Arts

Loove Labs
Mega Contracting
NYC H+H/Queens Hospital
Steinway & Sons
Tito’s Handmade Vodka

Maritime Hotel
Westin Times Square