With a new album and tour dedicated to the musician he idolized, legendary trumpeter Arturo Sandoval recalls being 28 years old and meeting the man who would change his life.
The Cuban-born trumpet master heard Dizzy Gillepsie was coming to Cuba as part of a tour in 1977, and he offered to drive Gillespie around while he was on the island.
Born in Artemisa, Cuba, in 1949, Arturo Sandoval started his musical career playing the snare drum in his school’s marching band.
"My father was a car mechanic," he said. "We lived with a dirt floor—we were literally dirt poor. But, it was good. It makes me appreciate everything in my life."
Sandoval ended up defecting from Cuba in 1990 from Spain while he was touring with Gillespie, a heart-wrenching decision for him. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1999.
In this photo Sandoval plays with John Lee on bass in Europe 1991 during the United Nations Band Tour.
The iconic musician says that for him it’s hard to understand and difficult to explain the repression of Cuba.
"No one loves this country more than me--the same maybe, but no one more," he said. "I’ve said it again and again, no freedom no life.”
In this photo dating back to 1986, Sandoval plays at the Marx Theatre.
Sandoval, considered one of the legendary Cuban jazz artists in recent history, now teaches at universities and privately, but worries about losing his beloved music over time.
“We are losing this musical tradition—it’s at risk of disappearing. The greats are mostly gone—Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown. Fewer and fewer media outlets cover jazz," said Sandoval. "I believe it’s the most important art form created in this country."
He said it would be a crime if music is not preserved.
In this photo taking in 1989 in West Berlin, Germany with the United Nations Orchestra Arturo Sandoval appears with pianist Danilo Pérez (lower right hand corner.)
With his latest album, titled Dear "Diz, (Everyday I Think Of You,)" Arturo Sandoval wanted to show just how much he was in awe of his icon Dizzy Gillespie and of his art form.