Arturo Sandoval

When: 7:30 p.m. October 30, 2014
Where: Oshman Family JCC Schultz Cultural Arts Hall, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto, California
Tickets: $40 members; $45 non-members; $60 at the door; premium tickets $60 members and non-members; $70 at the door. Call 650-223-8664 or visit

Video of Arturo Sandoval playing "There Will Never Be Another You" on YouTube.

I Remember Clifford
MP3 available at

Arturo Sandoval
Manny Iriarte photo
Arturo Sandoval, 10-time Grammy Award winner, is to perform with his quintet at at Schultz Cultural Arts Hall in the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto on October 30, 2014
Always fresh, always brilliant: Arturo Sandoval on trumpet
Great musician coming to Schultz Cultural Arts Hall in Palo Alto on October 30, 2014
October 18, 2014

I first became aware of Arturo Sandoval in the early 1990s, when his musical tribute to Clifford Brown, "I Remember Clifford," was released. I'm a big fan of be-bop, and when I heard Sandoval's cover of "Joy Spring" on the radio, I went out and bought the CD. At a time when the jazz world was in need of fresh voices, Sandoval's versatility and rich tone were a great discovery. Twenty years later, I still have the CD and still listen to it. Superb!

Sandoval says his first and foremost influence was Dizzy Gillespie. In 2000, an HBO film "For Love or Country," starring Andy Garcia, told the story of how Dizzy and a young Arturo Sandoval first met in Cuba, in 1977. When Dizzy Gillespie came to Havana on a stop that was part of a jazz cruise, Arturo managed to get the job of driving him around the island.

In doing research for my conversation with Sandoval, I had read that he was driving a cab. When I asked about it, he responded, "No, it wasn't a cab, man. It was my car. I just got the job using my own car because I wanted to meet Dizzy."

By the end of his "driving gig," Sandoval's love of music and his talent on the trumpet were revealed to Gillespie, and a close friendship began, with Dizzy eventually helping him leave Cuba to take his place on the world stage.

In early 2014, a book of photos, "Dizzy Gillespie: The Man Who Changed My Life," was published, chronicling Sandoval's relationship with Gillespie. Sandoval told me he didn't have a big role in producing that book — they just used his pictures.

But he did say that yes, meeting Dizzy is one of his greatest memories, and really did change his life.

In the 30-plus years since Sandoval left Cuba, he has been active in working to improve human rights in his home country. Both Sandoval's artistic and humanitarian efforts were recognized when he was presented with the 2013 Medal of Freedom by President Obama.

I had recently heard of a baseball player who had defected in order to play in the U.S., and asked Sandoval about conditions these days in Cuba. He told me that the situation has not improved, and that working for the free movement of Cuba's artists, athletes, and all her citizens, remains one of his passions.

Sandoval's current itinerary has him playing in Asia, Europe, and throughout the U.S. Interestingly, he will also be part of an all-star Caribbean jazz cruise after the first of the year. His tour includes special appearances with Dr. John, with whom he recently finished a recording project, and Japanese pianist Makoto Ozone, with whom he will perform in front of the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra in a program featuring works by classical composers Dmitri Shostakovich and Maurice Ravel.

Sandoval said he has been greatly influenced by impressionist composers Ravel and Debussy, and particularly by Sergei Rachmaninoff. "I love Rachmaninoff!" he said.

In addition to performing, Arturo Sandoval has established himself as a composer. In recent years a particular focus has been writing musical scores for motion pictures. His website ( lists fifteen productions for which he has composed. He mentioned he was quite pleased with: "At Middleton," starring Andy Garcia, and "1000 to 1," starring Beau Bridges. Sandoval added that he expects to do more film work, but that there was nothing on his plate at the moment.

The group coming to Palo Alto's Oshman Family Jewish Cultural Center on October 30, 2014, includes, in addition to Sandoval, Zane Musa on sax, Tiki Pasillas on percussion, Johnny Friday on drums, John Belzaguy on bass, and a phenomenal young musician from Sri Lanka, Mahesh Balasooriya, on piano.

Here's a great clip of him playing "There Will Never Be Another You" with the same line-up (minus the percussionist).

I asked Sandoval about the repertoire for the show in Palo Alto, whether it would be a mix of originals and standards, or something new? Sandoval said they usually decide what they're going to do on the night of the gig — whatever inspires them.

My last question for Sandoval was, what young trumpet players emerging on the jazz scene are impressing him? Without hesitation, he mentioned German trumpeter Till Bronner. He told me he loved Bronner's playing, and that I should check him out. Interesting that our chat that began with props being given from a trumpet legend to an up-and-coming talent, and concluded the same way.

Email Steven Ackley at

Arturo Sandoval
Courtesy of Arturo Sandoval
Arturo Sandoval, 10-time Grammy Award winner, is to perform with his quintet at at Schultz Cultural Arts Hall in the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto on October 30, 2014. Call 650-223-8664 or visit