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Arturo Sandoval: 1949—: Jazz Trumpeter

Broadened Musical Horizons

Taking a teaching job at Florida International University, Sandoval plunged into the U.S. music scene; a Baltimore Sun critic quipped that he seemed to be on the road "about 400 days a year." He reveled in the musical freedom that life in the United States offered, recording, in addition to straight-ahead Latin jazz, an album of classical trumpet concertos (one of them of his own composition) in 1994. A Sandoval concert became a thrilling all-around musical experience, with Sandoval switching at will from trumpet to piano, percussion, and even vocals on occasion. "I don't want people necessarily relating me to a Latino thing," Sandoval was quoted as saying in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "My goal in life is to be a musician. I love music, period. For me, the music is only one: A good one."

After living in Miami for six years, Sandoval applied for U.S. citizenship. At first he was turned down, with officials citing the same Communist Party membership that had helped him escape from Cuba in the first place; his application may have been stalled by Cuban-exile immigration officials in Miami who were suspicious of his recent association with the Castro government. For the next three years Sandoval endured what he described to the Financial Times as a "degrading experience," as he went through six rounds of questioning. In 1998 Sandoval finally became a U.S. citizen; some observers believed that the administration of jazz-loving president Bill Clinton had helped to grease the wheels.

In 2000 HBO released a film about Sandoval's life and he was the film's composer. That film, For Love or Country, featured actor Andy Garcia, whose own family had fled Cuba in the 1960s, as Sandoval. By the first years of the 21st century, Sandoval was something of a living legend. "The trumpet is special," he told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "You can whisper, you can scream. The trumpet has no limits." Sandoval's still-growing legion of fans would agree that in his hands, the instrument's possibilities indeed seemed limitless.

Selected discography

To a Finland Station, Pablo, 1983.

Breaking the Sound Barrier, Chicago Caribbean Arts, 1983.

Tumbaito, Messidor, 1986.

Straight Ahead, Jazz House, 1988.

Flight to Freedom, GRP, 1991.

Dreams Come True, GRP, 1993.

Arturo Sandoval Plays Trumpet Concertos, GRP, 1994.

Danzón, GRP, 1994.

Tren Latino, GRP, 1995.

Swingin', GRP, 1996.

The Best of Arturo Sandoval, Milan/Latino, 1997.

Hot House, N-Coded Music, 1998.

Americana, N-Coded Music, 1999.

L.A. Meetings, Cubop, 2001.

My Passion for the Piano, Columbia, 2002.



Contemporary Musicians, volume 15, Gale, 1995.


Baltimore Sun, July 12, 2001, p. E1.

Billboard, March 19, 1994, p. 12; November 28, 1998, p. 47.

Down Beat, June 1994, p. 41.

Electronic Media, January 1, 2001, p. 39.

Financial Times (London, England), March 10, 2001, p. Off Centre-9.

San Diego Union-Tribune, December 6, 2001, p. Night & Day-18.

Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), May 24, 2002, p. Lagniappe-25.


All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com

—James M. Manheim

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