Jamming with Arturo Sandoval


The Cuban jazz maestro is part of the NCPA’s golden jubilee celebrations this weekend

On November 6, trumpeter Arturo Sandoval turned 70. When, The Hindu interviewed Sandoval, about when he first played the instrument, he rewound to his childhood. The musician recalled, “I loved the trumpet's versatility. It could soar above a 100-piece orchestra and yet whisper in a ballad.” It’s a fitting response to a query on how Sandoval’s long, illustrious and fulfilling career began.

Sandoval has a hectic schedule at the ‘Add Art Festival’, being held to celebrate 50 years of the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA). On Friday, he will play with his band, and on Saturday, he leads a jam session with Indian artistes. A masterclass will complete his itinerary. In jazz circles, Sandoval is considered to be a worthy successor to legendary be-bop trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, who had dazzled Indian audiences in 1985. Sandoval was greatly influenced by Gillespie, and even played concerts with him, besides releasing the album, To A Finland Station.

Jazz legends

A 10-time Grammy winner, Sandoval started played trumpet with street bands in his native Cuba at the age of 12. He was also fascinated by the piano and wanted to compose. “While I was classically trained in trumpet, my piano was practically self-taught,” he said.

In the early 1970s, traditional music was popular in Cuba. There had been attempts to blend it with jazz but a new crop of young musicians carried that amalgam forward. One such offshoot was the band Irakere, founded by pianist Chucho Valdez and featuring Sandoval, saxophonist Paquito D’Riveira and a host of others.

Sandoval’s repertoire consisted of both Afro-Cuban music and jazz improvisations. Besides Gillespie, his biggest inspirations were alto saxophonist Charlie Parker and trumpeters Miles Davis and Clifford Brown, for whom he did the tribute album, I Remember Clifford. The trumpeter says meeting and playing with his idol and hero Gillespie was a life-changing experience. In 2012, Sandoval released the album Dear Diz (Everyday I Think Of You), where he wrote and sang the title track, besides playing many Gillespie compositions including ‘A Night In Tunisia’.

Another milestone, he said, was to play with the late timbales maestro Tito Puente. “He was a legend who I could proudly call a friend. We did this tour ‘Latin Crossings’ with rock musician Steve Winwood, and it was fun,” Sandoval adds. Last year, he had a hit with the track ‘Arturo Sandoval’ with contemporary stars Pharrell Williams and Ariana Grande.

The Mumbai tour happened when jazz organiser Sunil Sampat met Sandoval after a New York show and talked of the NCPA festival. At his first show, he will play a mix of originals and jazz versions of popular tunes. “Besides trumpet, keyboards and timbales, I will do one song on the piano and sing a bit too,” he said.

His second concert, the jam session, will feature musicians such as keyboardists Louiz Banks and Merlin D’Souza, percussionist Taufiq Qureshi, bassists Sheldon D’Silva and Dee Wood, saxophonist Rhys D’Souza, flautist Rajeev Raja, tabla player Aditya Kalyanpur and drummer Gino Banks.

For details on Arturo Sandoval’s performances, see and

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Printable version | Dec 14, 2019 7:34:08 PM |

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