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Arturo Sandoval: 1949—: Jazz Trumpeter

Stayed In Cuba For Family's Sake

Hungering for interaction with other musicians, Sandoval was occasionally allowed to travel abroad. Irakere performed at New York's Carnegie Hall in the late 1970s, and a recording of the concert brought Sandoval the first of his four Grammy awards. Yet Sandoval began to chafe at the musical restrictions of life under Communism. He thought of seeking asylum on foreign trips during this period but held back because of his wife Marianela—whom he had married in 1975 and who was still devoted to the ideals of Cuban Communism—and because of his young son, Arturo Jr.

But Sandoval grew disenchanted with the way the Cuban government used Irakere as an advertisement for its own image, and he left the band in 1981, after D'Rivera left for the United States. He formed a band of its own; despite government disapproval he was voted Cuba's instrumentalist of the year for three years running in the early 1980s. Recording prolifically, Sandoval impressed U.S. reviewers who had been alerted to his music by Gillespie's advocacy. Scott Yanow of the All Music Guide opined that Sandoval was in "near-miraculous form" on the 1988 release Straight Ahead. "Just listen to him tear through 'Blue Monk,' playing in the low register with the speed of an Al Hirt before jumping into the stratosphere like Maynard Ferguson," Yanow wrote.

In 1990 Sandoval joined Gillespie and other musicians on a European tour. Before he left Cuba he joined the Communist Party so that he could improve his chances of bringing his family along. The government agreed, and when the tour reached Rome, Sandoval headed for the U.S. embassy. With Gillespie along for support—Gillespie is reported to have placed a phone call to Vice President Dan Quayle at one critical juncture—he requested and was granted political asylum. Sandoval took up residence in Miami, where he has lived ever since.

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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