Legendary trumpeter to headline River Raisin Jazz FestivalWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
It was a journalist who turned Arturo Sandoval on to jazz.
“He played for me a Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie record. Oh my goodness, I went crazy, saying, ‘Wow! What is this? Man, what are those people playing? That’s so difficult! I love it! I want to learn how to play that!’
“And then I start with that and I’m still trying to figure out what those people were playing,” the renowned trumpet player said.
In 1977, Sandoval had a chance to meet his idol when Gillespie visited his home country of Cuba. But he didn’t tell the trumpeter he was also a musician right away.
“I drove him all over the city for the whole day. Then in the evening, we got a jam session,” Sandoval recalled. “When he gets to the place, I was warming up on stage and he saw me with a trumpet, and he opened his eyes and said, ‘What the heck’s my driver doing with a trumpet?’ And somebody said, ‘No, no, no! He’s the guy here in Cuba!’”
With the help of Gillespie, Sandoval soon became one of the great horn players of the world.
“[Gillespie] really helped me a lot. He was so good to me since we met. He gave me so many opportunities over so many years,” he said.
Sandoval was touring with Gillespie in Spain in 1990 when he and his family were granted political asylum by the United States.
“Dear Diz (Every Day I Think of You)” is the title of Sandoval’s disc released in May.
“[It’s] a group of tunes I have been playing that I had the honor and privilege to play with [Gillespie] many times when he was alive. It was a lot of fun doing the record; this is the kind of material that I really love,” the jazzman said.
“The most important thing he taught me was love music,” Sandoval said. “That was really the key motivation for me was how much he loved music and how much he really enjoyed talking and playing and trying to learn things about music.”
One of his father’s loves inspired his new CD, “Tango — Como Yo Te Siento,” released in July.
“I remember my father — my dear father, he’s in heaven — he liked tango music very much, and he never showed any kind of interest in music in general,” Sandoval said during a call from his home near Los Angeles.
“But when you put in a good tango, he loved it. He knew the lyrics and the melodies of every tango. And in certain ways, this is a tribute as well to my dear father.”
The Grammy Award winner will headline the River Raisin Jazz Festival at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at St. Mary’s Park in Monroe. The event is free.
“At all my gigs, I play percussion and I sing a couple tunes, and I play piano and play keyboard, and I dance a little bit, and I tell the story — I have fun on stage,” Sandoval said. “My intention, my goal, is to let the people have fun too.”
River Raisin Jazz Festival
St. Mary’s Park, Monroe, Free
Saturday, Aug. 11
1 p.m. The River Raisin Big Band
2:30 p.m. Deon Yates
4 p.m. Hot Sauce
5:45 p.m. Chris Standring
7:30 p.m. Alexander Zonjic & Friends with special guest Bob James
Sunday, Aug. 12
1 p.m. RJ Spangler with special guests Larry Smith and Nikki Pearse
2:30 p.m. Soundproof
4 p.m. David Myles & The Mylestones
5:45 p.m. Chieli Minucci
7:30 p.m. Arturo Sandoval