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Arturo Sandoval: 1949—: Jazz Trumpeter

Studied Classical Trumpet

Sandoval worked hard and persevered through the musical-instrument shortage and the general hardship that arose with U.S. attempts to destabilize Fidel Castro's Communist government through covert military action and an ongoing trade embargo. When he was fifteen he won a scholarship to study at the National School for the Arts in Havana. The curriculum there consisted of classical music, however, with all other genres off limits; Sandoval's teacher was a Russian orchestral trumpeter. After three years of classical study Sandoval felt himself at a disadvantage when he joined a large Havana jazz band with a six-piece trumpet section.

His conservatory stint paid big dividends in terms of sheer technique. When the great U.S. jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie visited Cuba and became friends with Sandoval in 1977, the Cuban trumpeter, who idolized Gillespie's playing, was amazed when the aging Gillespie asked him for technical instruction. Founding the band Irakere with saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera and pianist Chucho Valdes in 1973, Sandoval became known for his sheer, unequaled virtuosity. His agile navigation through the trumpet's difficult upper register is legendary.

At a Glance . . .

Born November 6, 1949, in Havana, Cuba; father was an auto mechanic; married Marianela, 1975; children: Arturo, Jr. Education: Studied classical trumpet at Cuban National School of the Arts. Military: Served in Cuban military.

Career: Played in Cuban nightclub ensembles and in Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna, 1960s; co-founded band Irakere with Paquito D'Rivera and Chucho Valdes, 1973; formed own band, 1981; extensive recording career, 1980s and 1990s; defected to the U.S. while on European tour, 1990; Florida International University, appointed professor; became U.S. citizen, 1998; composed score for HBO film of his own life, For Love or Country, 2000.

Awards: Grammy awards for Best Latin Jazz Performance, 1995 and 1998; Emmy award for soundtrack to For Love or Country, 2001.

Addresses: Home—Miami, FL; Label—GRP Records, 555 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019; Agent— Carolyn McNair Public Relations, 410 W. 53rd St., No. 128C, New York, NY 10019.

Nevertheless, the major influence on Sandoval's playing was not classical music but the progressive jazz movement of the 1940s and 1950s known as bebop. As a teenager Sandoval heard the classic bebop recordings of Gillespie and saxophonist Charlie Parker. "That really hooked me up," he told the Baltimore Sun. "I said, 'Wow, this is what I would love to learn.' And I'm still tryin'". Irakere's music evolved into a fiery blend of Cuban rhythms and fabulously accomplished bebop solos, Sandoval's first and foremost.

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Paul Anthony Samuelson (1915– ) Biography to Bessie Smith (1895–1937) BiographyArturo Sandoval: 1949—: Jazz Trumpeter Biography - Studied Classical Trumpet, Stayed In Cuba For Family's Sake, Broadened Musical Horizons