Arturo Sandoval ‘Dear Diz (every day I think of you) (Concord) 4/5


Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sandoval pays tribute to his musical alma mater Dizzie Gillespie here with an all-star line up that includes vibist Gary Burton, tenorist Bob Mintzer and hammond organist Joey deFrancesco among others. Tight arrangements and warm sound characterise the elegant big band be-bop sound with Afro-Cuban elements never far from the surface and actor/musician Andy Garcia performing competently on bongos. A storming big-band take on ‘Be Bop’ gains in intensity as the number develops and Sandoval pitches in with his trademark high-pitched tone. Afro-Cuban flavours emerge on the reworking of ‘Salt Peanuts(Mani salado)’ which features delightful shifts in time signature and some fine piano playing from Shelly Berg with, in addition, collective chanting that is reminscent of the orginal Gillespie version. Sandoval is very much in his comfort zone in be-bop territory and especially when there is a Spanish tinge in the use of percussion. It is refreshing to hear Burton here in his role of sideman and he is of course a fine soloist in his own right. There is a change of style entirely with a string quartet accompanying Sandoval on ‘Con Alma (with soul)’ and the cello accompaniment of trumpet which is a highlight with this pared down version working extremely well. Arguably the strongest piece on the album is the understated minor theme take on ‘Fiesta Mojo’ which has some lovely orchestrations with a shuffling beat undercurrent and the clarinet of Eddie Daniels. The mid-tempo and Brazilian-flavoured ‘And then she stopped’ remains faithful to the original and Sandoval performs on muted harmon in tandem with deFrancecso to good effect. Brass and flute combine beautifully on ‘Tin Tin Deo’ while another Afro-Cuban jazz standard, ‘A Night in Tunisia’ is suitably dramatic in approach. Nothing revolutionary in the music on offer here, but very tastefully put together and excellent musicianship all round. Tim Stenhouse

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