What can I tell you about Arturo Sandoval that Andy Garcia hasn't? If you're a fan of the Cuban trumpet king, this 1989 session, L.A. Meetings, is a sterling example of the fire blazing from Sandoval's horn the year prior to his defection; it has gone unreleased until now. With strong-as-a-bull clarity and imaginative melodicism, Sandoval shines with a diverse repertoire of mostly his own compositions.
Sandoval and his band's stopover in L.A. came when he was invited to participate at the annual trumpet-convention symposium at University of California, Santa Barbara. This recording shows how far along Sandoval had come since departing the Cuban superband Irakere in 1981.
Out to make a name for himself as a soloist, Sandoval assembled a group that gave his music a strong backbone and pushed him to new heights. Hilario Dur n (piano), Jorge Reyes Hernandes (bass), Jorge Luis Chicoy (guitar), Bernardo Garcia Carreras (drums) and Reinaldo Valera del Monte (congas) show a cohesion, virtuosity and flair for experimentation on L.A. Meetings; they challenged Sandoval and clearly had a special chemistry.
The CD demonstrates Sandoval and his band exploring electronic sounds with an array of reggae, calypso and funk rhythms, but they also cutup in the hot cubop style. "Rimsky," with Poncho Sanchez guesting on congas and Dur n's trance-inducing montunos, percolates with a timba feeling. The two-chord vamp breathes with plenty of space for Sanchez's hard hand-slaps and pops with Sandoval adding his two-cents on timbales. "Pete King's Heart" is a straightahead romp, dedicated to London's Ronnie Scott and his famous club, that captures the nuance of Sandoval's jazz heroes like Clifford Brown.
Great moments abound from start to finish on L.A. Meetings' well-sequenced tunes. With his jubilant tone and virtuosic high C's, this Los Angeles rendezvous is one of Sandoval's finest moments.