- WIN: Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album
- Nomination: Best Instrumental Arrangement for "A Night in Tunisia (Actually An Entire Weekend!)"
- Nomination: Best Instrumental Arrangement for "Salt Peanuts! (Mani Salado)"
Today we're going to delve into the work of a Cuban trumpeter, pianist, and composer. This, folks, is a night of Jazz.
This guy is accomplished. I'm left once again wondering how I've never heard of him, and disappointed that I'm not more knowledgable. But that's what this is all for right? It's a learning experience and a way to build up knowledge.
Accolades? Yeah, let's talk. This guy's had a film made about him, "For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story," which starred Andy Garcia. He's won nine Grammys, with 17 nominations in all. Six Billboard awards and one Emmy later, he's also been named a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom as of August 8th.
"Be Bop" starts things with a thank you and welcoming up of our man Artuno. Things start out so light and fluffy that I actually jumped a little when the whole band hammered out quick notes right before the two minute mark. I wasn't expecting everything to come at us quite so full-force! It was like out of nowhere. You know what's nowhere here though? Any sign of a singular playing Artuno. This is a full on band with several folks at the same instruments harmonizing together. Not a bad thing, just trying to get my bearings on this particular album and what the line up is truly to be like moving forward. For the record, he does eventually and clearly show himself, but it takes a while for him to stand out from the crowd.
"And Then She Stopped" has what I think is a mambo beat. I apologize now if I'm off in my thinking there, but that's the feel I'm getting. There's these little sweet low stops here and there that necessitate hard hip shaking and stopping. Then things in between remain light and just hanging in the back while everyone does their thing on the floor. It always will amaze me how even instrumental songs can have their verse and chorus structures.
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Pink Panther? Okay, okay, no - this is "Birks Works (ala Mancini)" but yet it has that creeping spy feeling to it through and through. The song's not dark, but the tone is much more mild and flowy than the previous tracks, taking it to a smoother feel.
The Latin feel is somehow always much more appreciated, to me, instrumentally than vocally. I just feel like you can loose yourself in this so much easier than the lyrics of some Latin pop songs. But maybe this band is just that good. "Fiesta Mojo" is an interesting title for this piece, because yes the band keeps things light and upbeat like a good party, but there's an underlying sexiness to the muted trumpet playing back there that gives it the 'mojo' flavoring just a bit too.
"Con Alma (With Soul)" is something of a shock. A classical grouping of strings plays a sad entrance until, about 40 seconds in, Artuno comes in with this longing low trumpet. It's like something from the 30s or 40s or a film noir, not an album released in 2012. Not that I'm doubting any abilities here, but the sound is so solemn that the song almost seems hard for him to play. There's so much effort to keep is so quiet and down.
In an effort to, I suppose, lighten the mood, we switch over to "Tin Tin Deo." It's still got an old sound, but is a break in the sadness that was much needed. it's just delightful to feel a band letting loose on something fun that clearly has enough pizazz to last on its own.
"Algo Bueno (Woody and Me)" has me wondering - Woody Allen? It certainly seems like a track meant for one of his wonderful Rom-Coms. It's that opening track when we're introduced to the wealth Manhattan-ite male's life, seemingly perfect in every way, traipsing around on the streets, beloved. Then he meets the right girl who has no interest and brings him completely down. Not her fault - he lost focus. She winds up with him in the end, I'm sure. You know how these things always seems to work. But dear god, the opening montage… it takes forever. I guess I lot of folks going opening credits in their deals.
"A Night In Tunisia (Actually An Entire Weekend)" feels like it takes up an entire weekend. I mean, 7:24? Yes, it's that long. But, to give credit where it is due, this definitely tells an entire story that feels like it must've taken a weekend to live through. The music is lively and ferociously upbeat, taking you for this crazy ride through every note that everyone seems to be throwing their completely being behind.
Added to My Playlist:
- "Birks Works (ala Mancini)"
- "Algo Bueno (Woody and Me)"
Artuno, you are something else. This is for sure an artist I never would have thought to find out about all on my lonesome, so thank you Grammys and personal list persistence. This is true instrumental talent at work here, so all I've got is to stand back in amazement.