A Virtuosic Arturo Sandoval Channeled the Master, Dizzy Gillespie

Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center, September 13

Photo by Linda Evans

Photo by Linda Evans

Arturo Sandoval lowered his trumpet and looked into the packed audience. His band had just blasted and bubbled its way through a burning Afro-Cuban opening number, but some folks were still keeping their cool. Sandoval grinned down at one fellow: “Relax, man, smile. The only one who impresses me with that face is my wife. Or a cop.”

Sandoval is touring with a program celebrating his mentor, Dizzy Gillespie. The influence isn’t just in the bebop brass, but also in Sandoval’s stage presence, which, like Dizzy’s, adds a touch of the comedian and raconteur to the virtuoso. Beyond the horn, Sandoval also snapped out a few rhythms on his timbales, dueted on an electric keyboard and soloed on a baby grand. His vocals ranged from cartoonish scatting to a soft, melancholy rendition of his recent ballad “Every Day I Think of You,” dedicated to his mentor.

For the finale, Sandoval rendered one of the master’s masterworks: “A Night in Tunisia,” its sinuous melody, curving around glittering horn runs, carried along by the rumbling background rhythm. Heads bobbed, shoulders shook, the audience whooped and hollered. “We have a lot of fun up here,” Sandoval said. We have a lot of fun down here, too. ★★★★✩

Photos by Linda Evans