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Monday, August 8, 2022

The return of Arturo Sandoval, the trumpeter who fled Cuba 30 years ago

A brilliant trumpeter with an impeccable technique. Cuban musician Arturo Sandoval maintains that jazz makes him feel free, especially when he improvises: “Jazz is freedom and the word freedom is the most important in any language“.

“There is nothing more important for a human being than to feel free, and I can say this because I lived under a dictatorial regime and I have been enjoying freedom for 33 yearswhat my country lacks,” said the 72-year-old trumpeter, during the telephone conversation with Clarion.

An unavoidable theme for the artist is the Patria y Vida movement, which calls for a return to freedom on the islandin opposition to the slogan of Castroism Patria o Muerte.

"Jazz is freedom and the word freedom is the most important", understands the multi-award winning Cuban musician. Photo Press

“Jazz is freedom and the word freedom is the most important”, understands the multi-award winning Cuban musician. Photo Press

“A year ago the Patria y Vida movement emerged and felt like a light at the end of the tunnel. It gave me encouragement, because really all these years I was very skeptical about the possibility of a change in Cuba. He thought: I’m going to die without being able to visit my home country”, affirmed Sandoval.

The trumpeter will return to Buenos Aires, to perform on Saturday, August 13at 9 pm, at the Teatro Opera, with a brand-new septet also made up of Michael Tucker on sax, Maxwell Haymer on piano, William Brahm on guitar, Maximilian Gerl on electric bass, Mark Walker on drums and Daniel Feldman on percussion.

“I couldn’t be happier, more satisfied with this group, our proposal goes through many different musics and it has to do with the fact that I continue listening to many different musics to enrich myself and continue learning,” said this multi-award winning musician. He won ten Grammy Awards, six Billboard Awards, and an Emmy..

An innovative musician who achieved notoriety as a trumpeter in the splendid jazz fusion group Irakere, which emerged from the Cuban Orchestra of Modern Music and created in 1973 by the pianist Chucho Valdéswhich had Paquito D’Rivera on saxophone, Carlos Emilio Morales on guitar and Enrique Plá on drums, among others, with emblematic albums such as Grupo Irakere (1976) and Iraqere (1979), which won the Grammy in 1980 as Best Latin Recording.

Sandoval 10 years ago, doing tango magic with his trumpet.

Sandoval 10 years ago, doing tango magic with his trumpet.

the trumpeter moves with solvency in any terrain, from jazz you can jump to classical music without losing technical quality or expressive capacity. “I like music in general and I am a musician who is still interested in learning,” he added.

“Jazz got me in trouble”

Sandoval was born in Artemisa, Cuba, in November 1949, in a home without resources, and it was at school where he started to be part of the band until at the age of ten he leaned towards the trumpet, although it was not one of the instruments that the band had; it was his aunt who gave it to him.

At the age of 12 he began to study classical trumpet until, at the age of 17, a good friend made him listen to a jazz record with Dizzy Gillespiewho would become his mentor after his escape from Cuba, and charlie parker: “I will never forget that day, nor what that music caused me”.

That inclination towards jazz brought him serious problems with the dictatorship. “I got into trouble –he pointed out- for my love of jazz in Cuba”. He once told that while he was doing the three years of conscription, at night he listened on his radio The Voice of the Americasuntil they discovered it: “The sergeant said that was the voice of the enemy and they sent me to the brig for three months for having been listening to that program.”

About Irakere he explained: “We survived because we played Afro-Cuban rhythms and below that we improvised in a jazzy way; we played bebop with cowbells and Afro-Cuban percussion; I would say it was jazz, but with an Afro-Cuban touch, which is why the authorities accepted this proposal.”

Justin Timberlake and Arturo Sandoval, at a Grammy ceremony, in Los Angeles.  AP.

Justin Timberlake and Arturo Sandoval, at a Grammy ceremony, in Los Angeles. AP.

His story about how he met Gillespie, the main person responsible for his escape from Cuba, is curious. “I met Dizzy in 1977. Dizzy was playing on a cruise ship that was stopping over in Havana for two nights. I was one of those who showed up at the port at the behest of a friend who got me a job as a driver and I got Dizzy.”

“When I saw him in person I was dazzled, even though I said I was not a musician, to take the job. He got into my car and I showed him Havana,” the musician said in a previous interview.

And he continues: “Much later a jam-session And that’s when I got out my trumpet and Dizzy yelled, ‘That’s my driver and he’s playing!’ We played together and developed an incredible relationship, he was like a second father to me. One of the best gifts I received from God in my life, “said the musician.

A musician without gender boundaries

One of the central aspects of Sandoval’s career is his interpretive quality. Now, although known for that markedly Latin style of high notes, Sandoval is a balanced, golden-toned performercapable of addressing the classical repertoire, as well as jazz and traditional Cuban music.

Some of his albums, like Flight To Freedom (1991), the impeccable Remember Clifford (1992), the splendid danzon (1993) or the famous Dear Diz (Every Day I Think Of You) (2012) show a trumpeter from a superb swing, impeccable sound quality and a relaxed mastery of the instrument.

Without borders: Sandoval and Emilio Estefan, a powerhouse of hits.  The trumpeter went through all musical genres.

Without borders: Sandoval and Emilio Estefan, a powerhouse of hits. The trumpeter went through all musical genres.

In his search for new directions he recorded My Passion For The Piano (2001) where he reveals himself as a virtuoso pianist, without ostentation, with some classics like All The Things You Are either This afternoon I saw it rain Y Tango, how I feel you (2011) in which a part of the cream me tango, like Nestor Marconi in bandoneon and Maria Graña, Raul Lavié and Julia Zenkoamong other voices.

His tribute to Armando Manzanero, with Eternally apple tree (2014), together with Jorge Calandrelli, goes along this line of permanent search and marked an interesting step for the masterful compositions of the pianist. they would come later Live At Yoshi’s (2015) and Ultimate Duet (2018), with Stevie Wonder, Al Jarreau, Celia Cruz, Placido DomingoJuan Luis Guerra, Alejandro Sanz and Ariana Grande, among others.

His escape from the Cuban regime

A topic that continues to hold interest is his escape from Cuba in March 1990.

She says: “Escaping was a wish I had for a long time. He was suffering, he had all kinds of problems, but he was married and had a son, and he was not going to take that step alone. The Cuban dictatorship made a mistake and that was to give my wife and son a super special permit so that they could travel to Europe while I was playing there. I couldn’t waste that opportunity.”

And the story continues: “Dizzy helped me, he was the one who accompanied me to the US Embassy in Athens. In that embassy they made the mistake of sending a coded message to the US interest office in Havana and the government of Fidel Castro intercepted it and a real hunt was unleashed trying to find my wife and son to send them back to Cuba”.

Detail he shares: “But they were hiding in a good friend’s country house. And we were able to escape to Florida, where we settled when we arrived in the United States.”

By the way, about his escape from Cuba, the film For Love or Country. The Arturo Sandoval Story (2000), performed by Andy García and with music by the trumpeter, reviews in detail his escape from the Cuban regime.

Regarding Patria y Vida, he maintains that “it is the result that many people have hit rock bottom, there is despair and pain and that can also be seen in other societies that followed the example of Cuba, such as Venezuela, Nicaragua and, you see, it is a system that does not work. They treat the town as an object and exercise absolute control over the people. They are dictatorships managed by liars and corrupt”.

That hardness suddenly softens to tell a popular joke among exiles: “Pedro and Juan meet in the street and Pedro tells him ‘Last night I was on the phone for a tremendous time with God. We talk about everything’. And didn’t you ask God when the Cuba problem was going to be resolved so that we could return? ‘Yes, that was my last question.’ And what did he tell you? ‘That’s where he cut me off. Not even God knows when this Cuba issue is going to end’”.

He told, as closing of the talk, that he has a finished album that will come out this month, with new compositions written during the pandemic, in which there is some jazz, ballads and Cuban music. After the concerts in South America (Santiago de Chile, Lima, Buenos Aires and São Paulo) she will return to the United States, where five nights, ten concerts await them at the Blue Note in New York.

Where and when

Arturo Sandoval will perform on Saturday, August 13, at 9:00 p.m., at the Teatro Opera, Corrientes 860. Tickets from $3,360 per Ticketek.com.ar.

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Reference from clarin www.clarin.com

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