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Interview with Arturo Sandoval

Wednesday, 22 June 2016 , ora 14.42
 
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Arturo, when did it all start musically for you?

Although music entered my life when I was 10, it wasn't the easiest of starts. In Cuba it was practically impossible to get a hold on an instrument, but when I was 10 years old, my aunt brought me a small horn and I never stopped striving to get better, even now!


You've played a lot of different instruments but you really fell in love with the trumpet, was it love at first sight?

Love at first sight? No! haha! It was very challenging. The first trumpet teacher I went to in Cuba told me to play for him, and since I have never played before, he immediately told me to throw the horn away and give it up. That day, at 10 years old, I walked all the way home crying the whole way. That's when I decided I wasn't going to let him discourage me, and embarked on my journey as a trumpet player. The trumpet is one of my loves, the piano is definitely up there too!


One can't mention the name Arturo Sandoval without mentioning Dizzy Gillespie. You had a life altering relationship with him, in a way… Explain to us how.

Yes, meeting Dizzy changed my life, just as music did. It was with his help that I was able to get political asylum and move to the US with my family. He afforded me the greatest freedom as well as more personal and professional opportunities that I could have ever wished for! I was very fortunate to meet and then play and tour with Dizzy. It's a truly marvelous thing to meet your hero, and then form a relationship and a bond with him. He was my mentor, my friend, my teacher and is still an inspiration to me every day!


You're still as much on the move, you're everywhere. … You're not tired of all the ripping and running?

I am very lucky that I get to travel around the world and do what I love. Not only for me, but its such a wonderful thing to be able to bring my music to audiences world wide. Yes, it's tiring, I'm getting old! Haha! But no matter how old I get, I feed off of the energy of the people I play for, and that keeps me energized and excited for the next show.


Tell us about your day as a musician.

Whether I'm on tour or not I keep very busy. When on tour I'm on a plane to the city I'm performing in that morning, then going to sound check once I arrive, and straight into the concert. Usually it consists of several days of repeating this! And when I have a few days off, I am always in my studio…recording, practicing, teaching, composing, etc!


For Love or Country has been critically acclaimed. Do you feel this film is your legacy?

I am very proud of this film. I was very thankful that HBO asked to do the film and more-so, that they were willing to tell the real story of what I went through and what many have gone through (and still do) living in Cuba. I was also so happy to write the underscore for the film, which I won an Emmy for Best Composer! But my true legacy is what I leave behind, and 4 years ago I started the Arturo Sandoval Institute (ASI). It is a 100% non-profit organization which provides instruments, master classes, music education and so much more, to underprivileged students throughout the country. I want to be a part of making sure that our children and grandchildren have music in their lives, despite the fact that schools are cutting their music programs!


Any new artists who have caught your eye?

You know, I always have my eyes and ears open to all of the new and upcoming artists. You never know who you're going to learn from or get inspiration from.


What is on the horizon? What is Arturo Sandoval up to?

Again, I am so grateful to be traveling around the world performing! I am also working on my new album, which is my first Duets Album, and I have some really phenomenal artists confirmed including: Pharrell Williams, Josh Groban, Placido Domingo, Alejandro Sanz, Juan Luis Guerra, Stevie Wonder, Frida Lyngstad (Abba), Al Jarreau, and more!


Going back to your very beginnings, as a child, why did you choose to play the trumpet of all things?

I used to love playing percussion…little congas and whatever I could get my hands on. In Cuba it was practically impossible to get a hold of any instruments, so when I was 10 years old, my aunt brought me a small horn she got from a friend, and I was just so trilled to have a real instrument. It was very challenging. The first trumpet teacher I went to in Cuba told me to play for him, and since I have never played before, he immediately told me to throw the horn away and give it up. That day, at 10 years old, I walked all the way home crying the whole way. That's when I decided I wasn't going to let him discourage me, and embarked on my journey as a trumpet player. The trumpet is one of my loves, the piano is definitely up there too!


You are a renowned Jazz and classical trumpeter, a brilliant pianist, a stellar composer and arranger - a fine vocalist in your own right, a bandleader, and a tenured university professor of music. How do you manage all this ? Is there a secret you can share with us ?

Thank you, you are very kind. You know, I just never stop practicing, that's the secret! I am truly a lover of music, so I try to express myself in every way I can. Sometimes I just want to blow the horn, others I want to sit at the piano and compose, write a song, write lyrics, or teach. As long as you have the inspiration, its about practicing and being consistent and determined to follow the passion.


One cannot ask you a few questions without referring to the great Dizzy… What was the best memory you have of him? And the worst one?

Meeting Dizzy changed my life, just as music did. It was with his help that I was able to get political asylum and move to the US with my family. He afforded me the greatest freedom as well as more personal and professional opportunities that I could have ever wished for! I was very fortunate to meet and then play and tour with Dizzy. It's a truly marvelous thing to meet your hero, and then form a relationship and a bond with him. He was my mentor, my friend, my teacher and is still an inspiration to me every day - I only have the best memories of him!


A lot of folks in the jazz world don't know that you're just as respected in the classical world. How long have you the playing classical music?

I started playing classical music when I was 14, and that is what I studied as a young man. Later I was hooked on Jazz, but I still perform all around the world with symphony orchestras and I am very grateful for that, it is such a good time for me to play classical concerts too. I actually just finished composing my second classical concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra, and I am very excited to begin playing it live.


How many gigs do you play per year now?

Wow so many. I think I am home about one week a month! It's a lot of traveling, but I am grateful for the opportunity.


Do you have the same stamina and energy for your music?

I am very lucky that I get to travel around the world and do what I love. Not only for me, but its such a wonderful thing to be able to bring my music to audiences world wide. Yes, it's tiring, I'm getting old! Haha! But no matter how old I get, I feed off of the energy of the people I play for, and that keeps me energized and excited for the next show.