(Born November 6, 1949)
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During an appearance on Good Morning America, Arturo Sandoval talks about his life as a Jazz trumpeter in Cuba, then performs “Groovin High” a composition by his teacher Dizzy Gillespie.
Arturo Sandoval was born on November 6, 1949, in Artemisa, Cuba. He began to play music at age 13 in the village band. After playing many instruments, he fell in love with the trumpet. In 1964, he began three years of serious classical trumpet studies at the Cuban National School of Arts. By the age of 16, he had earned a place in Cuba’s all-star national band. By this time, he was totally immersed in jazz, with Dizzy Gillespie as his idol.
In 1971 he was drafted into the military. Luckily, Sandoval was still able to play with the Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna. Because of this he was able to continue his daily practice regimen.
In Cuba, Sandoval co-founded the band Irakere with Chucho Valdés and Paquito D’Rivera. They quickly became a worldwide sensation. Their appearance at the 1978 Newport Jazz Festival introduced them to American audiences and garnered them a recording contract with Columbia Records.
Sandoval was still exploring his musical possibilities and left the group in 1981 to form his own band. He continued to tour worldwide with his new group, playing a unique blend of jazz and Afro Cuban music. In addition to playing Afro Cuban jazz, he performed classical music with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London and the Leningrad Symphony in the former Soviet Union.
While he was still in Cuba, he was influenced by the music of Jazz legends Charlie Parker, Clifford Brown, and Dizzy Gillespie, whom he finally met in 1977. Gillespie promptly became a mentor and colleague, playing with Arturo in concerts in Europe and Cuba and later featuring him in The United Nations Orchestra. Sandoval defected to the United States of America in Spain, while touring with Gillespie in 1990, and became a naturalized citizen in 1999.
Sandoval’s life was the subject of the 2000 TV film For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story, starring Andy Garcia. He currently resides in Calabasas, California.