Arturo Sandoval: Out of Jale

By Doug.

Because of Susan’s recommendation, two days ago on Friday evening I went to the Arturo Sandoval Ellington Jazz Series concert in Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Hall.  I went by myself. Susan couldn’t go with me because she is laid up with a badly broken wrist caused by a fall on a cobblestone street in the Greenwich Village. So I’m going to try to write the blog post.

The concert and Arturo himself were fantastic in so many ways. The highlight of highlights for me was about midway through when Arturo put down his trumpet and took over the Steinway Grand from the fabulous pianist and keyboardist, Maxwell Haymer, and went into a gorgeous ballad. I don’t have Susan’s musical knowledge or her audiographic memory so I can’t tell you much more about it.  I believe the saxophonist, Michael Tucker came in next and percussionist, Ricardo Pasillas came in with vocals, which he did a few times throughout the evening.

But regardless of musical knowledge and ability nobody in the hall could claim to know anything about the ballad before hand.  At least that would be true if I take Arturo at his word, which I’m not sure I can. He provided a lot of stories for the packed hall throughout the evening, all of which had facets that made you wonder if you were being teased with. When the ballad finished Arturo announced that it was an original composition and that our evening was the first time it was preformed in public. The piece was so new it didn’t have a name. But lo and behold, Arturo, had just decided what to name it.  “And what a beautiful name it was,” he assured everyone, It was called “Out of Jail.” The band members looked astonished!

No, no,” Arturo said, “Not J A I L”, “Y A L E”. The piece came “Out of Yale”.

Arturo also did lots of vocals  himself from scat singing to crooning, and besides his trumpet and coronet, he also played keyboard, and a couple snare drums and exhibited more diversity than I could keep up with. The other band members were John Belzaguy, bass, and Johnny Friday, drums. All the band was fantastic. They opened the concert, as apparently they always do, with a jazzy, ballad-y version of God Bless America.  The bulk of the generous program was “Latin”, no not “Latin”, Arturo hates that name, “Cuban Afro-American” music, as inspired by Dizzy Gillespie and others.  But diversity ruled. I walked away with a CD of Arturo playing with everyone from Stevie Wonder to Plácido Domingo.

“Flattery by association gets my reverence, even though Arturo got my reference first through his music. “And by the way,” he said, “that’s a beautiful piano. Its not everyday we get to play on a piano like that.” And, “This is a beautiful hall. It so acoustical”, he said waving his trumpet. And “The sound engineer is a genius. Its not easy to engineer this hall for electric instruments.” They had several electric instruments.

And then…, what would probably have been Susan’s highlight of highlights. He waved off his band, stepped away from the mics, and played the opening of Mahler’s 5th!



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