A protégé of the legendary jazz master Dizzy Gillespie, Sandoval was born in Artemisa, a small town in the outskirts of Havana, Cuba, on November 6, 1949, just two years after Gillespie became the first musician to bring Latin influences into American Jazz. Sandoval began studying classical trumpet at the age of twelve, but it didn’t take him long to catch the excitement of the jazz world. He has since evolved into one of the world’s most acknowledged guardians of jazz trumpet and flugelhorn, as well as a renowned classical artist, pianist and composer.
He is one of the most dynamic and vivacious live performers of our time, and has been seen by millions at the Oscars, at the Grammy Awards, and the Billboard Awards.
Sandoval has been awarded 10 Grammy Awards, and nominated 19 times; he has also received 6 Billboard Awards and an Emmy Award. The latter for his composing work on the entire underscore of the HBO movie based on his life, “For Love or Country” that starred Andy Garcia as Arturo. His two latest Grammy award winning albums, “Dear Diz “Everyday I think of you” and Tango “Como Yo Te Siento” are now available worldwide. Arturo Sandoval's newest CD, Eternamente Manzanero. Performing the music of revered Mexican romantic pianist/singer/songwriter, Armando Manzanero, this is a true labor of love. Performing Senor Manzanero's music with co-headliner Jorge Calandrelli, the album is a fresh, modern and pleasant take on his beautiful bolero music.
Recently released, is a new book chronicling his relationship with Dizzy Gillespie entitled “The Man Who Changed My Life” Arturo also is the 2013 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Sandoval was a founding member of the Grammy Award-winning group Irakere, whose explosive mixture of jazz, classical, rock and traditional Cuban music caused a sensation throughout the entertainment world. In 1981, he left Irakere to form his own band, which garnered enthusiastic praise from critics and audiences all over the world, and continues to do so.
Sandoval is also a renowned classical musician, performing regularly with the leading symphony orchestras from around the world. Arturo has composed his own “Concerto for Trumpet & Orchestra”, which can be heard on “Arturo Sandoval: “The Classical Album.” Arturo has performed with the foremost orchestras in the country as well as abroad and recorded John Williams’ Trumpet Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra. His classical artistry has earned him the respect and admiration from the most prestigious conductors, composers and symphony orchestras worldwide.
Arturo Sandoval’s versatility can be heard on recordings with everyone from Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman, Woody Shaw, Michel Legrand, Josh Groban, Tony Bennett, Bill Conti, and Stan Getz to Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, Paul Anka, Rod Stewart and Alicia Keys amongst many others. He has performed with John Williams with the Boston Pops, and in the Super bowl with Tony Bennett and Patti LaBelle.
His compositions can also be heard in movies including “1001 to 1” starring Beau Bridges, “At Middleton” starring Andy Garcia and Vera Farmiga, Dave Grusin’s soundtrack for “Havana” and “Random Heart”, in the “Mambo Kings” soundtrack with his Grammy nominated composition “Mambo Caliente”, in the soundtrack of “The Perez Family”, “61”, “Mr. Wrong”, the documentary “Oscar”, and “The Family Fuentes” among of others. He also was commissioned by the Kennedy Center to compose the music for the ballet “Pepito’s Story”, “Soul Possessed”, as well as “Oman O Men”, and “The Chocolate Hot Nutcracker, choreographed by Debbie Allen. And as mentioned above, he was awarded an Emmy for his composing work on the entire underscore of the HBO movie based on his life, “For Love or Country” starring Andy Garcia.
Arturo Sandoval reaches beyond the scope of mere effort. His struggles while in Cuba and since his defection have given him more energy and strength, urging him to accomplish and surpass his childhood dreams. Filled with a virtuoso capability, he desires nothing more than to share his gift with others who feel the same intense adoration for music as he does. One frequently speaks of Arturo Sandoval’s virtuoso technical ability or his specialty in high notes, but he who has seen him on the piano, lyrically improvising a ballad, or has had the opportunity to enjoy the diversity of his music, through his compositions from the most straight ahead jazz, Latin jazz or classical, knows that Arturo Sandoval is a prominent musician, and one recognizes that Arturo is one of the most brilliant, multifaceted and renowned musicians of our time.
Arturo Sandoval last performed for La Jolla Music Society in the Latin Jazz Series on February 27, 2010.
For more information visit www.arturosandoval.com
For more than three decades as both a leader and a sideman, conguero Poncho Sanchez has stirred up a fiery stew of straightahead jazz, gritty soul music, and infectious melodies and rhythms from a variety of Latin American and South American sources. His influences are numerous, but among the more prominent figures that inform his music are two of the primary architects of Latin jazz – conga drummer and composer Chano Pozo and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie. Sanchez pays tribute to these two titans on his new album, Chano y Dizzy!, his 25th recording as a bandleader on Concord Picante, set for release on September 27, 2011. For the first time, Sanchez and Francisco Torres, long time band member (trombone/vocals), join forces to produce the new album.
Joining Sanchez on the 11-song set is multi-GRAMMY winning trumpeter Terence Blanchard. It makes sense that, for this project, Sanchez recruited fellow label mate Blanchard, a New Orleans native who literally grew up amid the Cuban and Latin jazz scene and a longtime fan of the music's multicultural underpinnings. Blanchard has established himself as one of the most innovative and influential jazz musicians and film score masters of his generation. As a film composer, Blanchard has more than 50 feature film scores to his credit. Currently at work on the score for George Lucas's long-awaited upcoming movie, "Red Tails," the Golden Globe nominee and four-time Grammy winner's music was recently featured on Broadway in Chris Rock's Tony-nominated play, "The Mother****** With Hat." Blanchard is currently at work on the music for the Broadway remake of A Streetcar Named Desire and has also been commissioned by the Opera St. Louis for a project that will premiere in 2012. His latest CD, Choices, was released by Concord Jazz in 2009 to widespread critical acclaim.
"These two musicians were the pioneers of what is now known as Latin jazz," says Sanchez. "Chano Pozo was a genius. He's considered the godfather of conga drummers, and he's someone whom I respect a great deal. And of course, Dizzy Gillespie was an iconic artist in American jazz. I had the honor and pleasure of working with him on several occasions. These guys were the first musicians to bring elements of Latin music to American jazz – which has resulted in some of the greatest music of the last 50 or 60 years. I felt that it was time to pay tribute to them and their accomplishments."
While the album includes songs originally written and performed by the two legends, it also showcases compositions crafted by other writers that capture the flavor of traditional Latin jazz. Sanchez's touring band assists with the songwriting and arranging. The studio ranks include: pianist David Torres, saxophonist Rob Hardt, trumpeter Ron Blake, trombonist/vocalist Francisco Torres, bassist Tony Banda, timbalist George Ortiz, and percussionist Joey De Leon, Jr.
"The great thing about this band is that they take a very traditional approach to Latin music,' says Blanchard. "They pay a lot of attention to the detail of the specific rhythms they're playing, and they understand the historical significance of keeping that heritage alive."
Although born in Laredo, Texas, in 1951 to a large Mexican-American family, Sanchez grew up in a suburb of L.A., where he was raised on an unusual cross section of sounds that included straightahead jazz, Latin jazz and American soul. By his teen years, his musical consciousness had been solidified by the likes of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Cal Tjader, Mongo Santamaria, Wilson Pickett and James Brown. Along the way, he taught himself to play guitar, flute, drums and timbales, but eventually settled on the congas.
At 24, after working his way around the local club scene for several years, he landed a permanent spot in Cal Tjader's band in 1975. "I learned a great deal from Cal," says Sanchez, "but it wasn't as though he sat me down and taught me lessons like a schoolteacher. Mostly it was just a matter of being around such a great guy. It was the way he conducted himself, the way he talked to people, the way he presented himself onstage. He was very elegant, very dignified, and when he played, he played beautifully. The touch that he had on the vibes – nobody has that sound. To me, he was – and is, and always will be – the world's greatest vibe player."
Sanchez remained with Tjader until the bandleader's death in 1982. That same year, he signed with Concord for the release of Sonando, an album that marked the beginning of a musical partnership that has spanned more than 25 years and has yielded more than two dozen recordings. Chano y Dizzy! is the latest installment in that ongoing partnership.
Sanchez, Blanchard and company set the tone early with an opening medley of lively Pozo tunes: "Tin Tin Deo," "Manteca" and "Guachi Guaro." Blanchard delivers down some sultry trumpet lines over Sanchez's percussion and vocals, while the rest of the band lays down a solid and spicy rhythmic bed throughout.
The followup track is a simmering rendition of Dizzy's "Con Alma," with numerous tempo changes that give Blanchard room to flex his muscles in varying rhythmic contexts within a single song.
Further in, "Siboney" is an old Cuban song by Ernesto Lecuona that's consistent enough with the overall vibe of the record to make the cut. "Ron Bake called me and said, 'Poncho, I've always liked this tune, but Chano didn't write it and neither did Dizzy.' I said, 'It's alright. It fits. It'll be fine.' I've always liked the tune myself, so I was glad that we finally got a chance to record it. I think it complements the artists and the period we're paying tribute to."
The light-hearted "Groovin' High" is a Gillespie composition originally conceived as a swing tune, but Sanchez and company rearranged it here to fit more of a mambo vibe. The funky "Harris's Walk," another song penned by Blake, was written in the style of Eddie Harris, "but I liked it so much at rehearsal that I said, 'We gotta put this on the record,'" says Sanchez.
"Jack's Dilemma," written by Francisco Torres, came together on the fly with a stripped down rhythm section consisting of Sanchez on conga and Joey De Leon on trap drums. "There are no timbales, no bongos," says Sanchez. "The engineers in the studio sort of slapped together a drum set. Joey tuned them the way he wanted, and man, ten minutes later we were recording. In the end, I think it sounded great."
The album ends just as it starts, with a staccato and highly rhythmic Pozo tune called "Ariñañara." Recorded by several artists through the years, the song is what Sanchez calls "straight-up hardcore salsa music." It serves close to a recording that celebrates some of the most innovative music to emerge from the 20th century.
"To me, Latin jazz is the world's greatest music," says Sanchez. "It has the melodic and harmonic sophistication of jazz and American standards, and the flavor and energy of Latin American music. What I'm most proud of is that this music – while it may sound exotic at times – is from America. It was born in New York City, when Chano Pozo met Dizzy Gillespie for the first time in the mid-1940s. They created something that didn't exist before in this country. I'm very proud to take this music all over the world all the time."
Poncho Sanchez last performed for La Jolla Music Society in the Latin Jazz Series on May 15, 2010.
For more information visit www.ponchosanchez.com