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Duran & Sandoval, Together Again

They came to see a Cuban Latin Jazz Master, the headliner of the concert and the magnetic draw for a packed house, the great trumpeter, multi-instrumentalist, Arturo Sandoval. What they got as added bonus was one of the most dynamic Latin Jazz trios on the planet. Opening for Maestro Sandoval was Toronto’s own, by way of Cuba, the Hilario Duran Trio, made up of Roberto Occhipinti on bass and Mark Kelso playing drums. The trio played at a very high level of excitement with a glorious sound. They played a fantastic array of songs that highlighted the virtuosity of Duran as pianist, composer and arranger. The performance set the crowds expectations for what was to follow at a very high level.

What followed was a very loud, electric bass heavy sounding group that took the first half of the concert to feel comfortable with the sound and with each other. The Sandoval band made up of a keyboard player, tenor saxophonist, drummer, percussionist and the aforementioned electric bassist. They opened with a trumpet song, "Embraceable You" Sandoval played electric keyboard, possibly a Moog and sounded very funky on a fast tempo. He had the synthesizer sounding very trumpet like.On trumpet, Sandoval blows in the mid range with flowing phrases and catchy triplets that run up into the high register where he’ll continue to run a scale, ending on a high note, screaming for attention and holding the note for a lengthy period of time - before descending in a fluid manner back to a comfortable mid range tone.

The saxophone player keeps close to Sandoval in energy and sounds; he fires off rapid runs and travels the entire spectrum of his saxophones range. At times, he is so engaged in keeping up with Sandoval that his playing becomes almost hyperactive. Most of the time, his lines were thoughtful, sounded clean and clear but never lacked excitement. He also doubles on electronic wind synthesizer playing sounds that are somewhere between a saxophone and an electric piano, a jazz - funk, fusion inspired sound.

The front-men all sounded good individually but the whole thing as a package didn’t sound so good. Something didn't come together. The bass was overpowering, the drums were very laid back, the percussionist couldn't be heard and the piano was in the mix but not blending, as I would've liked.

After some brief but heated looking discussions with the sound man controlling the monitors, things seemed to come together and sounded more cohesive. The Latin jazz, with solid funk overtones continued on into the evening with the audience being treated to Arturo Sandoval’s diversity, as he played some piano, some synthesizer, he sang a little and he played timbale. It would have been fine, if he just settled on trumpet. His playing is excellent, his comfort zone knows no boundaries. He played the trumpet in every form and put on a tremendous display of amazing technique.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Arturo Sandoval, Hilario Duran Trio
  • Concert Date: 6/28/2008
  • Subtitle: TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival
  • Venue: Toronto Star Stage
  • City State Country: Toronto, On. Can.
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