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Arturo Sandoval: A Time for Love

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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Years ago, on The Tonight Show, host Johnny Carson asked guest Frank Sinatra what music he enjoyed listening to when "in those romantic moments." Sinatra, to the host's surprise, said he particularly enjoyed the hearing works of Debussy, Ravel and other Impressionists and Romantics. With A Time for Love, trumpet legend Arturo Sandoval steps away from the fast, hard-swinging Afro-Cuban and bebop con fuego jazz for which he is known and delivers a 14-cut romantic love letter con alma. This is fine listening, no matter what the moment might be or what Sinatra—who certainly knew his trumpeters—might have enjoyed.

With A Time for Love, Sandoval once again grabs the crown as a king of the trumpet. Leveraging luscious, intelligently refined orchestral arrangements by string wizard Jorge Calandrelli and the always terrific Shelly Berg, Sandoval uses his mile-wide sound, engaging tone and utter mastery of dynamic and melodic nuance to envelop these Great American Songbook, popular and classical selections in warmth and soul.

Since Charlie Parker did it decades ago with Charlie Parker with Strings (Mercury, 1950), jazz musicians have placed themselves in more sedate environments, emulating concert artists by being accompanied by string orchestras. Clifford Brown was one of the first pure jazz trumpeters to do so. Wynton Marsalis and Roy Hargrove followed decades later. More commercially, the Jackie Gleason albums which featured Bobby Hackett's sound did same.

For a jazz player working in this type of environment, one of the displays of maturity is restraint: the ability to take things down tempo-wise, play with the lyric and through the melody—to weave wonder with sound. Sandoval does all of this brilliantly. And, as Louis Armstrong, Bunny Berigan, Chet Baker and Jack Sheldon also did, Sandoval also sings ("Estate").

Chris Botti, another trumpet star who has played the ballad and romance game well, appears as a guest artist. Monica Mancini, a marvelous vocal talent who doesn't play on her pedigree, offers a very nice rendition of "Oblivion."

There could be a tendency to schmaltz it up in the orchestral scenario, falling prey to saccharine sliding strings and unnecessary overplay. Not here. Sandoval commands the horn and the date, emitting nothing but soul through his buttery flugelhorn, open horn and Harmon-muted trumpet. The arrangements frame him marvelously throughout. The rhythm section is beautifully understated, yet musically supportive, with Berg's piano a golden touch.

The only minor critique is the CD's enormity—twelve selections plus two bonus selections (which feature pianists Berg and Kenny Barron, respectively). While the music is terrific, it's a bit too much of a very good thing.

A Time for Love is an elegant, beautiful work of musical artistry by a true master. While now might be Sandoval's time for love, his work here is a wonderful labor of same. So, lower the lights, drink up and savor—and, for tonight, leave Frank on the shelf.


Track Listing: Apres Un Reve (After the Dream); Emily; Speak Low; Estate; A Time for Love; Pavane pour une Infante Defunte (Pavane for a Dead Princess); I Loves You Porgy; Oblivion (How to Say Goodbye); Pavane; Smile; All the Way; Smoke Gets in Your Eyes; Windmills of Your Mind; Every Time We Say Goodbye.

Personnel: Arturo Sandoval: trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals; Shelly Berg: piano; Chuck Berghofer: bass; Gregg Field: drums, percussion; Chris Botti: trumpet (6); Monica Mancini: vocals (8); Kenny Barron: piano (14).Jorge Calandrelli: conductor; Bruce Dukov: concertmaster; Natalie Legget: violin; Phillip Levy: violin; Charlie Bisharat: violin; Darius Campo: violin; Liane Mautner: violin; David Ewart: violin; Tamara Hatwan: violin; Razdan Kuyumijian: violin; Searmi Park: violin; Songa Lee: violin; Kevin Connolly: violin; Tiffany Yi Hu: violin; Robin Olson: violin; Darren McCann: viola; Harry Shirinian: viola; Keith Greene: viola; Alma Fernandez: viola; Dennis Karmazin: cello; Vanessa Freebairn-Smith: cello; Trevor Handy: cello; Christine Ermacoff: cello.

Title: A Time for Love | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Concord Music Group

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