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October 2005

Arturo Sandoval
Live at the Blue Note
Half Note Records

On the CD/DVD combo release, Arturo Sandoval tells his DVD interviewer that the heart of his music is bebop. Working up an Afro-Cuban bop froth on several numbers, he and his hot young band prove the claim beyond a doubt. At a ferocious pace, "Eso Es Lo Que Hay" is a prime example. Sandoval takes the audience's breath away with his speed, control and range on the trumpet. The piece also demonstrates the bothersome side of his improvisation-virtuosity overriding ideas. But on the next tune, "Eastern Blues," content rules technique. Sandoval starts with long tones, works into shorter phrases, uses repetition, refers to his mentor Dizzy Gillespie and builds a 13-chorus solo that spins a story.

Sandoval's considerable scatting ability gets an airing on "Blues for Diz" in a vocal display that ranges amusingly from basso profundo to falsetto. At the piano, he begins alone on his composition "A Lovely One," sets up the rhythm section and a reflective solo by tenor saxophonist Felipe Lamoglia and then plays his own most moving solo of the evening, regardless of instrument. The closer, "Rhythm of Our World," gives Sandoval a chance to work out on timbales, and he has a first-rate flugelhorn solo, but the 15-minute track goes on five minutes too long.

Originally published in October 2005
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