This CD is a collection of originals and standards that showcase Sandoval's lesser-known talent. I didn't say hidden, because Sandoval has been playing one or two piano tunes in his shows for years. He says people would come backstage and ask where to find his piano recordings and he had to tell them there were none. After some prompting by his wife, Sandoval decided to remedy the situation. Sandoval gathered premiere musicians bassist Dennis Marks and drummer Ernesto Simpson. Appearing on a couple tracks are saxophonist Ed Calle and percussionist Samuel Torres.
A Sandoval composed piece "Blues in F" hold the alpha and omega spots in the collection. The first version of "Blues in F" swings with high note exhilaration. The tune is revisited at the end of the album as "Blues in Fa". How can there be an English and Spanish version of an instrumental? "The melody is the same but the approach is slightly different," says Sandoval. He also wrote the sweet ballad "Romantico." The name says it all. The melody is classically romantic and suave, but there's always the thread of earthiness weaving through the background. Another original "Surena"is classic Latin tempo, with a hot dancing syncopation, featuring Samuel Torres on the Cajon, a percussionist instrument that is a square box you sit on. He also plays the Maracas.
The ballad "Marienela Says Goodbye" was featured in his Emmy Award- winning score to the 2000 HBO docudrama. For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story starring Andy Garcia. There are also excellent covers of standards like "All the Things You Are" and "Stella by Starlight" as well as Michel Legrands' "Windmills of Your Mind." Armando Manzanero's "Esta Tarde Vi Lover"is interpreted with sinuously insistent inquiry.
Bassist Dennis Marks contributed the session two strong compositions including "Departure", a samba-like tune, which Sandoval plays breezy and light on the keys. It's like a summer breeze whispering through the trees, until it disturbs a nest of bees and spins into a fast fury, be fore relaxing back into the melody.
Granted political asylum to the U.S. in 1990, Sandoval was already a renowned trumpeter in his native Cuba. He started to play the trumpet when he was 9, was performing classical trumpet by the time he was 12 and later co-founded the Grammy-winning jazz super group Irakere.
Sandoval notes that his "Passion for the Piano" is not a passing fancy. "I love the Piano says Sandoval. He has a penchant for playing the high notes on piano the same way he does on his trumpet. He loves using the whole instrument, all of the keys. It's said that once someone masters one foreign language each successive language becomes easier. I don't know if this translates to music, but if it does, Sandoval could end up performing every instrument in a very talented band!