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Arturo Sandoval: Ultimate Duets

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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Anyone who has seen a no-hit game in baseball will tell you that it's a rare and highly exciting occurrence. With Ultimate Duets, Arturo Sandoval and his team of music stars deliver even better—a perfect game of a recording.

Maestro Sandoval joins with some of the greatest vocal names in music, most recognizable by surname—Wonder, Domingo, Sanz, Jarreau, Groban, Grande, et al. And, as one expects by way of his 10 Grammy®-winning track record, everything about this fine recording is today's-hit-contemporary, Latin-passion-filled, and thoroughly enthralling. One muses: "The next track can't be as good as the last?" And damn, it is. Every track begs that question.

An up-tempo rework of Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry About a Thing," with Prince Royce joining Sandoval, lights the dynamite. The track delivers the joyous nature that permeates the entire date. The melding of Sandoval's gorgeously inviting flugelhorn with Alejandro Sanz and Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band on Sanz's Flamenco-tinged "Corazon Partio" will touch hard hearts. Jules Styne's classic, "People," generates Stevie Wonder's vocal, fitting hand-glove with Sandoval's melt-butter flugelhorn.

There's a special artistry in technique that's needed to make this type of effort work and not produce a disingenuous "along-for-the- ride" effort. Sandoval rises to this Game of Tones, paints each duo performance beautifully and deftly interjects musically appropriate beautiful brushstrokes. His stratospheric trumpet playing is, to his great credit, never strident or intrusive. He knows and respects his partners dearly.

Chart-topping artist Ariana Grande is all that, joining Pharrell Williams and Sandoval's horns on the Latin-hip "Arturo Sandoval." "Solo Esta Soledad" pairs Sandoval with Josh Groban on a grand scale and the cut levels the house. "Granada," a bedrock of Spanish music repertoire, offers an operatic display with Sandoval embellishing superbly over Placido Domingo's sublime vocal and Vincente Amigo's guitar. ABBA's "Andante, Andante" is elegantly presented by group member Anni-Frid Lyngstad's pairing with Sandoval. The passion continues with Spanish pop star David Bisbal, accompanied by the Sandoval's strato-soaring on "El Ruido."

The last two cuts—"After All," with Al Jarreau (recorded before the singer passed), and a remixing and Sandoval- overdubbed send-up of the late Salsa legend Celia Cruz's "Quimbara"—tempt looping and shuffle playing those and all of Ultimate Duet's eleven cuts endlessly. If that weren't enough, the production values on this recording (Gregg Field and Sandoval, along with Pharrell Williams and Jorge Calandrelli, each on a track and all involved) are killer.

Ultimate? Certainly. But, that's an understated description of this grand slam. Get those tuxes ready, all. You'll likely be needing them.

Track Listing: Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing; Corazon Partio, People, Granada, Arturo Sandoval, Solo Esta Soledad, La Bilirrubina, Andante, El Ruido, after All, Quimbara.

Personnel: To follow

Title: Ultimate Duets | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Universal Music Group

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