On Hot House, the flashy Cuban–born trumpeter Arturo Sandoval coaxes a big–band sound from a group that is slightly smaller than Maynard Ferguson’s Big Bop Nouveau (two trumpets, two saxophones, two trombones and rhythm), adding a vigorous Latin beat shaped by drums, bass, piano, synthesizer and three rhythm specialists — Castrillo, Bonilla and Toledo — with timbalero Tito Puente sitting in on two numbers. Like Maynard, Sandoval uses his high–note trumpet to add weight to ensemble passages and tight arrangements to make the (relatively) small group appear larger than it is. Besides playing lead and soloing with assurance, Sandoval wrote seven of the eleven selections, and none is less than convincing. The others are Tadd Dameron’s “Hot House,” Armando Manzanero’s “Only You,” Mario Ruiz Armengol’s “Brassmen’s Holiday” (which sounds much like something Leroy Anderson might have written) and a “Cuban–American medley” (whose Cuban component is apparently confined to the rhythm). While I’m no great fan of vocalists, Patti Austin — who should sing in Spanish more often — is simply marvelous on the ballad “Only You,” as is Rey Ruiz on Sandoval’s tribute to Puente, “Tito.” Michael Brecker adds his distinctive tenor voice to “Funky Cha–Cha” and “Hot House,” while tenors Calle (“Sandunga,” “Closely Dancing”) and McNeill (“Mam–Bop,” “New Images”) swing with power and precision during their turns at bat. If you’re looking for straight–ahead contemporary Jazz, look elsewhere. But if you have a craving for “Latin–American” music that nestles in a swinging groove and cooks charmingly under high heat, Hot House should provide more than enough nourishment to satisfy your hunger.
Track listing: Funky Cha–Cha; Rhythm of Our World; Hot House; Only You (No Se Tu); Sandunga; Tito; Closely Dancing; Mam–Bop; New Images; Cuban–American Medley; Brassmen’s Holiday (53:58).