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Live At The Blue Note by Arturo Sandoval

Arturo Sandoval has recorded his first live album, and Half Note Records, which has recorded some excellent live albums at the legendary Blue Note jazz club in New York, now has made available the results: an exhilarating album on which Sandoval covers a lot of territory, from his thrilling high-note excursions in tribute to Dizzy Gillespie to more mellow fare such as Alicia Keys’ 6/8 sway of "If I Ain’t Got You," for which, of course, Sandoval notches up the excitement with the irresistible force of his trumpet after the muted first chorus. In between those extremes, Sandoval’s septet involves the audience in Sandoval’s world-beat composition, "Rhythm of Our World," a gorgeous ballad, "A Lonely One" (on which Sandoval plays piano), the bebop and scatting of "Blues for Diz" and infectiousness of the swirling rumba ot "Supreña" (with Sandoval, again, on piano).

An appropriate enhancement to the documentation of the event is Half Note’s inclusion of a DVD that provides video footage of the same concert. Why appropriate? Because Sandoval’s appearance is visual, from the image of his walking alone into the club, trumpet case slung over his back, to the magnetism of his presence on stage, to the wild reaction of the audience to the build-up of the excitement throughout the concert. Indeed, the the video sequences bring back memories for those who don’t live in New York but have visited the Blue Note there: its unobtrusive appearance squeezed in between two other businesses of equal frontage dimensions, its signature awning that calls attention to the club especially at night, its "quiet policy," the proximity of the audience to the performers on stage, the waiters walking between the musicians and the listeners, the rectangular "Blue Note" sign attached to the back curtains, and the electricity that emanates from the musicians who have no doubt prepared extensively for the gig.

But whether on CD or DVD, Sandoval’s music technically challenging, extroverted and a one-of-a-king amalgam of various styles is meant not only to be appreciated, but also to entertain. After the thrill of the opening number, "The Real McBop," on which Sandoval gives a taste of his virtuosity with sixteenth-note lines of improvisation, his group delves into "Eso Es Lo Que Hay," surprisingly funky, as Sandoval and the other musicians interact through call and response during the main chorus, inducing clapping. But of course, such inviting ease can’t last for long when Sandoval’s performing. After three minutes, Sandoval raises the temperature in a triple-time give and take between himself and tenor saxophonist Felipe Lamoglia.

Of course, Sandoval’s personal history is interesting in itself, as documented by television biographical dramas. But beyond his "flight to freedom" when he defected from Cuba to the United States, Arturo Sandoval is an arresting jazz musician who can claim an audience after just a few notes. Live at the Blue Note is one of the best albums he has recorded, and the only one that gives a taste of his forceful and welcomed presence before a live audience.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Arturo Sandoval
  • CD Title: Live At The Blue Note
  • Genre: Cubop
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Half Note Records
  • Tracks: The Real McBop, Eso Es Lo Que Hay, Eastern Blues, Blues For Diz, A Lovely One, Supreña, If I Ain’t Got You, Rhythm Of Our World
  • Musicians: Arturo Sandoval (trumpet), Felipe Lamoglia (saxophone), Phil Magallanes (piano), Rene Toledo (guitar), Dennis Marks (bass), Alexis Arce (drums), Tomas Cruz (percussion)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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