Arturo Sandoval demands silence at the Dakota, 4/20/11
Taking the stage for the second set of a two night stand at the Dakota the Cuban born legend Arturo Sandoval sounded annoyed, "Let's be clear. I don't want very much talking tonight. The crowd before you tonight, the first set, they were talking so much I couldn't concentrate. People couldn't hear and appreciate the music."
One thing you could say about Arturo Sandoval as he took charge for the smoking extensive set of standard bop and latin-tinged standards as he moved and grooved on the stage is he likes to be the life of a party. As stellar a band as he could assemble and with the ease on his main instrument, the trumpet he floated about the stage taking up various instruments including keyboard, piano and timbales filling the Dakota with wonderful sounds and very satisfying display of Sandoval's own music and those of his greatest heroes, Clifford Brown, Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane.
Known primarily as the melodic force in the '70s Cuban funk band Irakere (with pianist Chucho Valdés and Paquito D'Rivera), Sandoval, like Dizzy Gillespie, has been an ambassador of Afro-Cuban jazz music for nearly four decades, having performed around the world and with everyone from Frank Sinatra and Gloria Estefan to Justin Timberlake and most recently, Alicia Keys.
Arturo Sandoval and Alicia Keys
Arturo Sandoval and Dizzy Gillespie
Out of the gate last night, Sandoval ravished the stage with the strangest looking trumpet we'd ever seen. The horn, with two bells at the end and double the pipes was lent to him by New Brighton manufacturer Harrelson Trumpets. With double the sound Arturo was ablaze with a distinct ability to speed through scales and phrasing in a dynamic display. His band followed suit through their solos, as it became impossible to count the notes in the sheets of sound each member brought to the melodies on the more upbeat tunes.
Finally taking a breather at one point and bringing things down to a simmer, Arturo took to the piano for a more calming selection from his latest, the Grammy winning, A Time of Love. "This is that moment I am thankful you are such a better crowd than the first set," he said, praising the already staggered audience. "I thank you very much for allowing me this."
But then it was back into the hard bop and Cuban rhythms to close out the set. As Arturo bounced around the stage, tinkering with his keyboard, the band would dive into moments that recalled the progressive rock sounds from his Irakere days, finally finishing up with a propulsive solo from his drummer, Alexis Arce.
Critics' Bias: Though he makes his way through town at least once a year I had yet to see Arturo Sandoval perform and was excited for the opportunity.
The Crowd: After being scolded during the first set we were eventually rewarded for good behavior.
Overheard in the crowd: "This is a much better band than he had with him last time."
Random notebook dump: "Thinking I should have gone with the beet salad instead of this huge basket of fries."
Arturo on Good Morning American where he discusses his defection from his native country, Cuba.