Arturo Sandoval: Ultimate Duets (Universal Latino)

Review of the Cuban trumpeter's latest collaborative album—this one with multiple singers

Cover of Arturo Sandoval album Ultimate Duets
Cover of Arturo Sandoval album Ultimate Duets

Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sandoval has always loved the bebop métier, tossing his aesthetic headlong in the directions of the masters Parker and Gillespie, but now he’s brought in a roster of singers to create something of a crossover disc. Prince Royce hits leadoff on a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ’Bout a Thing,” which crosses a Bobby McFerrin “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” vibe with incisive guitar licks that give the track a necessary tartness. There’s a lot of sheen in the production, almost like elevator Muzak, but with chops backing the salsafied passacaglias.

“Granada” boasts a Placido Domingo vocal, and it’s a prime example of jazz’s flexibility, both within the context of a given work—for Sandoval’s horn seems to both accompany and lead at once—and in how readily it pairs with a musical form (opera) we normally think of as far afield. Then we come to the cover of ABBA’s “Andante, Andante,” with the Swedish quartet’s Anni-Frid Lyngstad herself turning up in what doubles as a karaoke singer’s dream: the real-deal singer knocking back and having venturesome fun on her own well-loved number. The Al Jarreau cut, “After All,” lends stately—not somber—grace, the late singer’s accrued wisdom giving the song, and the album, the allure, and encouragement of a well-timed wink.

Preview, buy or download Ultimate Duets on Amazon!