If you like your jazz with great orchestration and a lot of horns, no let’s make that with really good horns then you will probably want to pick up Arturo Sandoval’s recent CD Rumba Palace flying under the Telarc label.
The Cuban born Sandoval a master of the trumpet in both jazz and classical settings has created ten original compositions that honor the trombone (Dana Teboe, Dante Luciani), the saxophone (Felipe Lamoglia), the trumpet (Sandoval, Jason Carder) and the flugelhorn (Sandoval). Solo trumpet highlights include the exquisite "Sexy Lady," the more boisterous "A Gozar," and a fittingly subdued voice in the beautiful "Peaceful."
Percussionist Thomas Cruz has hands of gold in the lively "A Gozar," and he is equally matched by timbalero and drummer Alexis "Pututi" Arce. The rhythm these two create makes this song worth listening to over and over again. Sandoval is at his best as he blows some great notes on his trumpet. Felipe Lamgolia’s arrangements have depth and lots of color. The vocals of Cheito Quinones, Sr. are to be treasured. Quinones was one of three vocalists with the Grammy Award winning Sound Machine that backed Gloria Estefan, as well as Jon Secada, Paul Simon, Queen Latifah, Sheila E., Carlos Ponce and Stevie Wonder, to name just a few. So powerful are the images that the Afro-Cuban ensemble creates that if you close your eyes you may find yourself walking the streets of Havana.
It would however be doing a great disservice to Rumba Palace to leave you with the impression that the entire disc is devoted to an Afro-Cuban sound. While Cruz’s excellent percussion work is still evident in "Sexy Lady," it is now more subdued and Lamgolia’s saxophone takes center stage. Complimented nicely by the other brass players we are treated to big band flavors that come out swinging. Tony Perez gifts us with an airy keyboard solo.
The pace slows on the sixth track with the languid and pretty ballad "Peaceful." Sandoval’s quiet trumpet courts Perez’s gentle chops. This is one of the songs that you expect to hear as an important scene in a movie draws to a close, the streets are deserted and nighttime falls.
Sandoval’s writing skills, Lamgolia’s abilities as an arranger and the skill of the musicians combine to once again create a big band feel with "Arranca De Nuevo." Arce, Cruz and pianist Perez contribute to the lighter rhythm and Sandoval’s flugelhorn creates warm, notes with lots of breadth.
The title track "Rumba Palace" is the best cut from this CD but there are simply so many good tracks to choose from. It may however serve up the best performances for Sandoval (trumpet) and Lamgolia (sax). This is a splendid album and I would not be surprised to see it appear on the Grammy Award Nominee list next year.