While bandleader and pianist Arturo O'Farrill has always sought to preserve the legacy of Latin jazz, he's never been one to do so it for its own sake, but always for evolutionary purposes. The Offense of the Drum features his 18-piece Afro-Latin Jazz band – a whopping 28 percussion instruments from all over the globe – and a notable host of collaborators including Donald Harrison and Vijay Iyer. The program highlights the cultural sounds and prismatic influences of South America, Spain, and the Caribbean in modern jazz. "Cuarto de Colores" weds the Brazilian, Colombian and Afro-Cuban rhythms to post-bop big-band jazz.
The Mike Westbrook Orchestra's 1982 opus The Cortège, initially released as a sprawling three-disc vinyl set by Original Records (re-released on CD by Enja) and winner of that year's Grand Prix du Disque de Montreux, is an often stunning work of massive scope and an indisputable highlight of Westbrook's career. Originally commissioned by the Bracknell Jazz Festival in 1979 and subsequently performed at a number of European festivals, The Cortège is themed around the idea of a New Orleans funeral procession, from its dirges to its final exuberance, but this theme is used as a framework for excursions into territory that is pure Westbrook – namely a marriage of creative jazz orchestra and European poetry written by Federico García Lorca, Arthur Rimbaud, Hermann Hesse, William Blake, and others.