Every time Arturo Sandoval comes to town, I try to make a point of bringing someone who has never seen him before with me. Sometimes I will go as far as taking someone that I know doesn’t particularly care for jazz. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a challenge, but maybe more of a point of pride to know ahead of time that there is one concert I can literally bring anyone to, and they will walk away with their mind completely blown.
The opening set Thursday night didn’t let me down. I spent most of the drive from Tacoma to Seattle talking up the concert to my guest, who by the time we showed up I’m sure had heard enough from me and was just ready to hear what all the hype was about.
There was an initial skeptical raise of the eyebrows from my guest when Sandoval walked on stage and opened the first song with synthesized strings from his keyboard. I slumped in my chair, but only for a moment. The keyboard playing stopped and the horns were picked up, and we started to hear exactly what I said we would hear: a true trumpet virtuoso with an incredible high energy band.
If you attend Sandoval concerts on a regular basis, the set list might seem a little predictable. That might be the only thing you can truly prepare yourself for, even if you attend his shows regularly. You know he is going to play high and fast, but it is still going to blow your mind when you hear it. His tone, his band, no matter how many times you hear it, you are never disappointed.
The band featured Ed Calle on tenor saxophone, who I always walk away wondering why I don’t hear more of him on recordings. While his sound certainly has Latin roots, his solos definitely demonstrate the influences of Wayne Shorter and Michael Brecker.
Aside from Sandoval admittedly being a little distracted by the news released earlier in the day of the death of music icon Michael Jackson, and seemingly never being satisfied with the volume (or lack thereof) being put out by his bass player, the concert was once again spectacular. Once a year someone makes the uneducated comment that Sandoval doesn’t have the chops that he used to. And every year he comes to town and shows with his range, tone, and ability to play tirelessly that the chops are more than fine.
And once again, Arturo Sandoval and the band managed to blow the mind of my guest. And I would be lying if I said my mind wasn’t once again blown as well.