Trumpet man
has joy of life

It's hard to fathom, but multi-Grammy award winning trumpeter Arturo Sandoval could've took up the cornet instead.

Arturo Sandoval

With the Honolulu Symphony Pops, Matt Catingub conductor

Where: Blaisdell Concert Hall

When: 8 p.m. today and tomorrow

Tickets: $21 to $63

Call: 792-2000

"I wanted to play the trumpet as a kid, but there wasn't any instrument available in my village," Sandoval said in a phone interview from his Miami home. "I asked the leader if I bought an instrument, would he let me join, and he said 'Oh sure.' "

Lucky for Sandoval, who performs with the Honolulu Pops orchestra tonight and Saturday, that he had a sympathetic aunt.

"But all she could afford was a pocket cornet," Sandoval said. "What a horrible instrument, but I practiced it constantly and it got me in the band."

Sandoval later purchased his own trumpet. His playing has since rewarded him with an Emmy, four Grammys, and an HBO biopic about his defection from Cuba, with Andy Garcia playing Sandoval.

When we first reach him at his home, from the moment he picks up the phone, the receiver is filled with lush symphonic music with Sandoval's trumpet riding the top range. After a warm hello, the trumpet music stops, the strings fade and the musician apologizes for the brief disruption.

"Every day is special," he says, almost whispering. "Every day when you wake up and you're still alive and breathing, that's a reason to be happy."

Sandoval is fluent in at least four musical languages, Afro-Cuban, bebop, classical and balladry.

Trumpet player Arturo Sandoval performs tonight and tomorrow night.

A protegŽ of the legendary jazz master Dizzy Gillespie, Sandoval was born in Artemisa, a small town in the outskirts of Havana, just two years after Gillespie became the first musician to bring Afro-Latin influences into American jazz.

Sandoval began studying classical trumpet at age 12, but it didn't take him long to make his name as a top notch jazz musician. He's one of the most acknowledged guardians of jazz trumpet and flugelhorn and was a founding member of the seminal Cuban group Irakere, whose mixture of jazz, classical, rock and traditional music caused a sensation.

In 1981, he left Irakere to form his own band, and from 1982 to '90, Sandoval was voted Cuba's Best Instrumentalist.

"How can I explain how lucky I've been," he says. "At 7, I knew I wanted to be a musician, but there was no reason because no one in my family was a musician.

"But I had heard a little group from my home village, and, oh my goodness, I couldn't move my eyes from them. I said 'Wow, I want to do that.' "

But Sandoval's parents weren't pleased.

"My entire family was very disappointed," he said. "They wanted me to be a doctor, engineer or car mechanic like my father.

"Musicians had a reputation for being a bunch of drunk people, or having drug problems, and no money."

EARLIER THIS YEAR, Sandoval was seen by millions of viewers at the Grammy Awards, performing with pop star Justin Timberlake in his first performance after ripping off half of Janet Jackson's bustier during the Super Bowl halftime show.

"Thank God he didn't do anything wrong to me," Sandoval said, laughing. "He's a good kid ... "

When asked about the HBO biopic, Sandoval is uncomfortable answering whether he ever thought his life was worthy of a movie.

"What I can tell you is that for 40 years I've dedicated all my life to the music with a lot of passion, very seriously, a lot of dedication, a lot for the music, a lot of respect for the music," he says.

What many people don't know is that Sandoval is also respected in the classical world.

"I was playing classical music almost 10 years, long before my jazz," he said. "I played in the traditional Cuban music, and then I got a scholarship for three years to get some classical training at the School of Arts in Havana, and started playing classical music right away."

Then someone played him a Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie record.

"It changed my life, and I started to listen to as much as I could," Sandoval says.

Less than 10 years after that, he met Gillespie, who was visiting Cuba for the first time.

"Unfortunately, at that time, I couldn't speak any English, but we communicated somehow," he said.

Gillespie had no idea Sandoval was a musician.

"I drove him all over the city and we talked all day long," he said. "In the evening, we had a jam session together, that was the very first time that he found out that I was a musician. I never told him I was a musician, I wasn't about to tell him I was a trumpet player."

SANDOVAL SAID he was disappointed by this year's Grammys when his CD, "Trumpet Evolution," wasn't nominated, despite critical acclaim.

The album is Sandoval's take on the best jazz musicians, from Duke Ellington to Wynton Marsalis, 19 different styles, 19 different musicians, even different eras. The album follows a chronological order, giving it a sense of history and evolution.

"It's my best album," he says. "They ignored it. As a trumpet player, that's the top of my career. If they don't recognize that, what are they going to recognize?"

Sandoval feels a responsibility to be an ambassador for the music he loves.

"If you want to be a true musician, a true artist nowadays, you have to be in love with the music, because the support we get from recording companies, television, even radio, is nothing," he said. "Jazz is the music of musicians. It's something from the bottom of your heart. You're giving your feelings. You're sharing your emotion with the audience."

He doesn't know how many performances he does a year.

"It's my life and that's what's keeping me alive," he says. "I've been asking God for so many years, and he said ... 'OK, you got it.' Now that I'm busy, I have to be happy."

Sandoval doesn't worry about what he hasn't done professionally but focuses on what he's doing in the moment.

"I go day by day," he says. "All I try to do is, everyday, be the best I can as a father, son, grandfather, musician."


Oct. 1 and 2
Kalapana and Yvonne Elliman. Celebrate Kalapana's 30th anniversary, including "Night Bird," "For You I'd Chase a Rainbow" Elliman makes her first appearance with the Pops, singing her hits from "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Saturday Night Fever."

Oct. 29 and 30
Seventies Tribute!

Nov. 19 and 20
With Burt Bacharach, songwriter, film composer, pianist. Joan Landry, conducts the composer of the pop classics "Walk on By," "I Say a Little Prayer," "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?," "Close to You," "That's What Friends Are For" and "On My Own."

Dec. 10 and 11
Christmas Pops with the Brothers Cazimero & Na Leo Pilimehana, with the Honolulu Symphony Chorus, directed by Karen Kennedy.

April 8 and 9 (2005)
Grammy award-winning jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves.

May 7 and 28 (2005)
Multiple Na Hoku Hanohano award winner Keali'i Reichel in the season finale.


2004-05 Halekulani
Masterworks season

Place: Blaisdell Concert Hall

Times: 8 p.m. Fridays and 4 p.m. Sundays, except the season finale featuring Sarah Chang, which is at 8 p.m. Saturday

Tickets: $26, $38, $48, $56 or $69 each

Call: 792-2000, or Ticketmaster at 877-750-4400

The Honolulu Symphony's 23rd Annual Fun Run, with more than 25 musical groups entertaining along the Kahala course, and at the post-run party at Fort Ruger (Triangle) Park.

When: 8 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 10, with check-in beginning at 7

Registration fees: $30 for adults, $10 for children 12 and under

Distance: Either 1.5-mile or 4-mile courses

Info: 524-0815, ext. 237

Note: This fund-raising event supports the symphony's diverse community programs and concerts, which include the annual Hawaii Youth Concerto Competition; the Youth Music Education Program; the East Meets West concert series; and Concert Conversations, the symphony's educational lecture series.

» Sept. 17 and 19: Season opener with Cho-Liang Lin, violin, and maestro Samuel Wong conducting Bernstein's "Serenade" and Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 in E minor, "From the New World."

» Sept. 24 and 26: "Dvorak and Brahms: A Bohemian Rhapsody," with Alisa Weilerstein, cello, and guest conductor Emil de Cou. Dvorak's "Carnival Overture" and Cello Concerto in B minor, plus Brahms' Symphony No. 4 in E minor.

» Oct. 8 and 10: "From Mozart to Jupiter," with Lisa Nakamichi, piano, the Honolulu Symphony Chorus and guest conductor Joan Landry. Bright Sheng's "Tibetan Swing," Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major and Holst's "The Planets."

» Oct. 15 and 17: "Russian Masters," with Lang Lang, piano. Selections from Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake," Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major and Stravinsky's "Petrouchka" (1947 version).

» Oct. 22 and 24: "And There was Light," with the Honolulu Symphony Chorus and director Karen Kennedy performing Haydn's masterpiece "The Creation (Die Schšpfung)."

» Nov. 5 and 7: "Reel to Real," features the symphony in a performance blending music and film in a multimedia collaboration with the Hawaii International Film Festival.

» Nov. 12 and 14: "America's Heroes -- Veterans' Day Tribute," with Thomas Yee, piano. Copland's "Lincoln Portrait" and Symphony No. 3; Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue."

» Nov. 26 and 28: "Celebrate the Season!" with guest conductor Edwin Outwater. Bach's "Brandenburg Concerto" No. 5 in D major and Orchestral Suite No. 3, plus Handel's "Water Music," Suite No. 1 in F major.

» Jan. 7 and 9 (2005): "Romeo and Juliet," by Berlioz and Prokofiev, and Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet Overture Fantasy."

» March 11 and 13 (2005): "East Meets West: A Pipa Concerto," with Yang Ging, pipa, and guest conductor Alistair Willis, in a performance of Minoru Miki's "Pipa Concerto." The composer wrote his pipa "folk" concerto to preserve and develop the diversity of Asian cultures.

» March 25 and 27 (2005): Handel's "Messiah," with the Honolulu Symphony Chorus and director Kennedy.

» April 1 and 3 (2005): "Thunder from the East!" with Stuart Chafetz, timpani, and Kenny Endo, taiko. Mozart's Overture to "The Abduction" from "Seraglio," the symphony-commissioned "East West Drum Concerto," Borodin's "In the Steppes of Central Asia" and Bartok's "Suite from the Miraculous Mandarin."

» May 13 and 15 (2005): "Iggy Jang Plays Khachaturian," with concertmaster Ignace Jang and guest conductor Alasdair Neale. Adams' "The Chairman Dances: Foxtrot for Orchestra," Khachaturian's Violin Concerto and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 in E minor.

» May 21 and 22 (2005): Season finale with violinist Sarah Chang performing Rimsky-Korsakov's "Overture to May Night," Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Shostakovich's Violin Concerto.

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