Sandoval delivers fun on more than just the trumpet

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Arturo Sandoval can play the trumpet. Those of you who are jazz fans would know that. But he can also play a mean piano, beat on the timbales and sing a little bit as well.

If you were at Friday’s concert at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild’s Jazz Concert Hall, you saw him do all those and even a little more.

Mr. Sandoval, who combined the rhythmic sensibilities of his native Cuba with American jazz and even some classic pop, promised a lot of fun on stage — and I’d say he delivered. His five backing musicians were up to the task of supporting arguably jazz’s greatest living trumpeter. (He didn’t announce many of the tunes he and the band performed, and I didn’t recognize them.)

Mr. Sandoval opened up with a pretty flurry on his flügelhorn, including solid pedal tones, in front of a rubato background courtesy of pianist Kemuel Roig. What would that go into? It turned out to be Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely,” during which Mr. Sandoval played some “guitar” lines on a synthesizer.

Although a musical son of Dizzy Gillespie, Mr. Sandoval eventually dipped into the repertoire of one of Mr. Gillespie’s contemporaries, Miles Davis, with the sinuous “Tutu,” which the band played more evenly than the half-time shuffle groove of the original and on which he used a Harmon mute — aping, of course, Mr. Davis in the process. The band took that in several directions, adding snippets of “Harlem Nocturne,” “Summertime” and “I Got You Under My Skin” and Mr. Sandoval rapping in Spanish. (At least I think he was — I speak virtually none of that language.)

The last two numbers did, on the other hand, directly reference Mr. Gillespie. “Dear Diz: Every Day I Think of You,” which Mr. Sandoval sang with considerable heart — he probably wouldn’t consider himself a vocalist, but he did it justice. And then — the standard “A Night in Tunisia,” which included a North African/Middle Eastern groove and, at the end, triple-high notes from the leader, in the piccolo range.

I can’t say enough about saxophonist Zane Musa, a last-minute replacement for Ed Calle. He demonstrated uncanny range and guts throughout on primarily his tenor, reminiscent of Michael Brecker but with a style clearly his own and had the sense to double-mic his soprano — at the bell and also in the middle — during one of the anonymous tunes.


Rick Nowlin: rnowlin@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3871.

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