With his last Cuban band, Arturo Sandoval visited Los Angeles in 1989. His defection didn't occur until almost a year later. The Poncho Sanchez band was going to be part of a European tour with Arturo Sandoval's band and Dizzy Gillespie. So, here were Sanchez, Sandoval and his Cuban band; rehearsing for the tour. What an opportunity! Frank Marrone recorded them in Hollywood's Ocean Way Studio. The result is one of Sandoval's finest recordings.
Rising star Hilario Duran shows his fine son montuno chops and indicates why he's so in demand these days. Guest conguero Sanchez trades fours with Sandoval (on timbales) to add a little Latin fire to the session. "Libertad Carnaval," as well, provides the kind of Latin jazz you'd expect from this ensemble. However, not all pieces run that route. A mellow, straight-ahead swinger, "Pete King's Heart," features Sandoval's lovely flugelhorn tone, and "Dindi" moves gracefully through ballad territory. For "L.A. Meetings," the trumpeter appears bold and open and with a round tone; big and strong, like Freddie Hubbard in his prime. "Mi Lugar" has a different flavor, coming out with a powerful, hard rock sense of the world around us.
What's so different about this session is that Sandoval had decided to devote so much time to ensemble counterpoint. The tracks average seven minutes. He doesn't just go around the room having his band take turns soloing. Instead, Sandoval has his band working together, with numerous change-ups in the music. Suite-like, each piece moves through different scenes. From a "Watermelon Man" kind of loose attitude, to a highly dramatic, classical scene; the music covers a lot of territory. There are places, however, where Sandoval steps forward and offers an individual demonstration of masculine power. Used sparingly, it can grab you by the throat and send chills up and down your spine. Forthissession, Sandoval balances his program effectively. The result is a winning album that represents his spirit well.
Personnel: Arturo Sandoval- trumpet, flugelhorn, timbales; Jorge Reyes- electric bass; Hilario Duran- piano, keyboard; Jorge Luis Chicoy- guitar; Bernardo Garcia- drums; Reinaldo "Pichi" Valera- congas; Poncho Sanchez- congas on "Rimsky" and bongos on "Dindi."