Arturo Sandoval Big Band | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Arturo Sandoval Big Band 

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On his new Hot House (N2K), trumpeter Arturo Sandoval leads a high-strung, tightly tuned, incendiary big band, liberally spiced with the percussion instruments of his native Cuba. He brings the same full-throttle arrangements and many of the same musicians to Chicago, in the second band he's toured with this summer--and we get the better deal. (The first was an improbable and unadventurous project with Steve Winwood that toured Europe in July.) In one respect, Sandoval's trumpetry fits into big-band jazz more comfortably than almost anywhere else: when he gives vent to his voluminous, white-hot tone with his finger-blurring technique, I can't imagine another format that could contain him. In Cuba, many musicians know only two ways to play--hard and harder--and for the first few years after he defected to the States, Sandoval barely bothered to temper his volcanic energy with introspection or balladry. Since then, he has broadened both his emotional range and his musical appeal; he has also felt secure enough in the jazz side of his playing to reinvestigate his roots, most notably on the excellent 1994 disc Danzon and now on Hot House. Some trumpeters can extend their instrument's range into the stratosphere and pull an entire ensemble along with them, and some have attained the dexterity and improvisatory conception that mark top-drawer soloists on any instrument. Sandoval belongs to an elite line of jazz trumpeters who can have it both ways--a line that descends from Louis Armstrong and includes Roy Eldridge, Cootie Williams, and Sandoval's own mentor, Dizzy Gillespie. The fine conjunto led by Latin-jazz conguero Poncho Sanchez opens the show. Saturday, 7:30 PM, Skyline Stage, Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand; 312-595-7437. NEIL TESSER

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Jay Strauss.

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