Arturo Sandoval – Backstage at Iridium Jazz Club (Part 2)


BETWEEN SETS WITH ARTURO SANDOVAL (PART 2): caught up with the legendary Cuban-born trumpeter, composer, pianist, percussionist and, yes, scatter (!) between shows at the world-famous Iridium Jazz Club just north of Times Square in New York City this past Saturday night. Be sure to read Part 1 of our interview with Sandoval if you missed it. Why do you think Cuban or Cuban-infused music has such widespread appeal here in America?

Arturo Sandoval: You know, I think the island of Cuba has been blessed by God to give regular people on the street the gift of music. People are just musical there, you know? People got rhythm…and rhythm’s very important because when you’ve got rhythm, you got a good percent of the “ba de bop” in your pocket, you know? (laughs) In Cuba if you say to someone “Yeah, I play the Conga” they look at you and say, “Who cares? My mother does, too!” (laughs) And the music there has a feeling of celebration and makes you feel the desire to enjoy life. What do you think about our new administration’s efforts to reach out to Cuba – do you think that the outreach will lead anywhere?

Arturo Sandoval: Oh, oh, oh…I don’t know…We could do a lot of things from this side – but, really, I want to hear and see and corroborate and be sure they’re (Cuba) going to do something on the other side. Because, as far as I know, there are still a lot of people there in jail because they just think differently – a lot of political prisoners – and this is such a crime, you know? The repression there is still harder than ever – people are very afraid even to talk. And, under those conditions, I don’t believe that we could support what they’re doing. This is a two-way road, you know – I’m going to do something good for you – but you have to demonstrate that you’re going to do something good for me. Because I cannot give you a flower and then you try to kick my butt – it’s a two-way road. When I start to see – to SEE it…not the blah, blah, blah no, no… not to SAY it – I want facts…when they (Cuba) start to really make an important move, I’m going to start to believe that finally, they’re going to make some changes. How do manage to tread successfully in so many different genres of music? Is it the same audience who comes to see you at The Iridium, say, who also come to hear you play your trumpet concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra?

Arturo Sandoval: (laughs) I don’t know, I don’t know…but the only thing I can tell you is that I love MUSIC…period. I really don’t want people to remember me as “a guy who played Latin jazz” or “classical music” or this or that – I really want to be remembered as a guy who loved MUSIC – period. Music drives your soul to so many different places without physically moving. It’s unbelievable how you close your eyes and open your ears and let the music transport you through the universe of sound…and you could land anywhere in a matter of minutes — not many things could do that to your soul. You surprised a lot of people who thought of you solely as a “trumpet player” when you released your 2002 album, “My Passion for the Piano” and we all found out what an amazing pianist you are as well – what else might surprise people about Arturo Sandoval?

Arturo Sandoval: (laughs) Well, let’s see…Well, I can cook – I’m a really good cook! As you can see my belly (laughs) I love food…I love cigars, and I think the best thing I’m proud of is my family. I met my wife 35 years ago when I got out of the Army and I didn’t have a penny in my pocket – and I said, “Will you marry me?” And she said, “Right now, anywhere.” And I said, “I don’t have a place to live or a penny in my pocket.” And she said “I didn’t ask you for money or a place to live – I got a place – you can live here, in my house.” And we’re still married – and we have two sons who each gave me a granddaughter…and they are all everything to me. Even with your extensive touring and composing schedule, you also make time to give back to young musicians by teaching…both on a university level and at clinics.

Arturo Sandoval: Yes, and the most important message I try to transmit to the students is that music is BIG…there’s room for everybody. I never, ever did or will discourage anyone. The other way around…I always said, “There is always room for one more…one and one and many more to come – but it’s completely up to you. There will be room for you there if you are really in love with music.

Learn more:

Backstage at Iridium with Arturo Sandoval (Part 1)

Arturo Sandoval Official Website

Iridium Jazz Club Official Website