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Arturo Sandoval: Americana

Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sandoval offers a love letter to American pop songwriting on Americana (N Coded Music NC-4206-2; 52:09), featuring his takes on an interesting lineup of selections, from the truly classic (Al Green’s Motown immortal “Let’s Stay Together”) to pop muzak (Peter Cetera’s “If You Leave Me Now”). All are subject to Sandoval’s lively, percussion-centered interpretations, which jell well for a gospel romp on Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” and a seductive, slow-burning Latin waltz on the Roberta Flack chestnut “Killing Me Softly.” Sandoval uses his mute trumpet and fluegelhorn for gentle romance on the Carpenters’ “We’ve Only Just Begun” (which also takes off into a smooth jazz ride), and “Just the Way You Are,” highlighted by a sweet Latin guitar sway, if slightly marred by tinny keyboards. Most surprising is the punch lent to “All Night Long,” which Sandoval injects with a wow-worthy horn chorale, uncovering and accentuating calypso and Latin elements of Lionel Richie’s bubblegum tune. Sandoval’s enthusiastic approach, highlighting both technical skill and lyrical melodic interpretation, allows listeners to revere and rethink this interesting cross section of Americana.

Originally Published