Rumba in Seattle with Cuban Trumpeter Arturo Sandoval

Arturo Sandoval
Arturo Sandoval
Jazz Trumpet King, Arturo Sandoval celebrates his Telarc debut Rumba Palace at Jazz Alley, Seattle, Washington October 25th through 28th. Show times Thursday through Saturday are 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. only on Sunday. Jazz Alley is located at 2033 6th Avenue in Seattle. Tickets can be purchased online at or by phone at (206) 441-9729.
 In the movie, For Love or Country (starring Andy Garcia), a youthful Sandoval wins the love of his future wife, Mariela through quirky persistence and passionate musicianship. The trumpeter also wins the mutual love and respect of the legendary American Be Bop trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, who later assisted Sandoval and his family in defecting from Cuba. The movie also portrays a frustrated Sandoval who must choose between the loyalty to his country, Cuba, or to his freedom as musician. He chose the latter thus leading to a string of successful recordings that straddle classical, Latin jazz, Latin music, and American (U.S.) jazz.A couple of scenes from For Love or Country stand out for me and include the scene where Sandoval sneaks a listen to a contraband American (U.S.) jazz program. He loses himself in the innovative sounds of Be Bop legends and when he attempts to share his passion with his new love, Mariela, her anger shoots through the roof. At that point in the movie, she represented a repressive regime in Cuba that curtailed an artist’s need to innovate and be inspired.

In another memorable scene, Sandoval shows up in a jalopy to pick up the legendary trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, who sports a sense of humor as Sandoval quickly drives the American trumpeter around Havana. Later, that evening, Gillespie is honored with another surprise when Sandoval’s band appears on stage prior to Gillespie’s set.

These scenes go beyond just playing the role of memorable cinematic images. The scenes convey Sandoval’s genius as a musician, his love of music, and his respect for the musicians that have inspired him over the years. And when we listen to Sandoval’s vast catalogue of recordings, once again, we hear his reverence to Latin jazz, Cuban music, and an evolution of American jazz (U.S.), as well as, classical music.

Prior to hearing Sandoval’s Telarc debut, Rumba Palace, I had picked up, his Live at the Blue Note and Trumpet Evolution recordings. Although I have found little information about the low- key Trumpet Evolution (2003), the musical history and terrain that Sandoval explores could only be called phenomenal. This recording alone reveals Sandoval’s immense talent as a music interpreter, translator, and player. Just hearing him play his horn in the high range sends chills up and down my spine. And I mean this as a compliment.

He covers a wide range of historical trumpet compositions and players that covers classical, Latin jazz, early American jazz, and everything in between. He performs classics by Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Chet Baker, Fats Navarro and others while giving each composition a virtuoso performance. Certainly this recording is worth checking out.

Live at the Blue Note (2005), also features a wide range of styles, but I believe these are all original compositions. And this CD comes closest to what one could expect to witness at a Sandoval live performance. Rumba Palace (2007), and the recording being featured at the upcoming Jazz Alley gig, also comes alive with a mix of Be Bop, Latin jazz, as well as, the innovative sound that Sandoval’s earlier musical collaboration (band), Irakere, made famous (could we coin it Cuban Be Bop?).

Sandoval’s legend lives on, with the release of his new CD, the opening of his music club, The Arturo Sandoval Jazz Club in Miami. His music switches from sweet and steamy, to downright brilliant with his passion for jazz always coming through the mix. This is a man who walks his talk and lives his life the way he plays his music–without compromise. Go see the man that Dizzy Gillespie touted. And the trumpeter who said yes to his passions.

Arturo Sandoval at Jazz Alley, Seattle, Washington on October 25 – 28, 7:30 & 9:30 p.m. performances, (7:30 p.m. only on Sunday). 206-441-9729 for ticket information.

Patricia Herlevi hosts The Whole Music Experience blog

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Author: PatriciaHerlevi

Patricia Herlevi is a former music journalist turned music researcher. She is especially interested in raising music consciousness. She is looking for an agent and publisher for her book Whole Music (Soul Food for the Mind Body Spirit). She founded and hosts the blog
The Whole Music Experience and has contributed to World Music Central since 2003.