Saturday, 30 August 2014

Jazzing Up The Venetian

Arturo Sandoval (second from left) with his trusty trumpet in hand
A few weeks ago a friend who works in Macau asked me if I wanted to attend a jazz concert. I'm always game when it's jazz -- I don't know much about it but love listening to it live -- so she bought an extra ticket for me.

Turns out the artist is Arturo Sandoval, a 10-time Grammy Award winner. Not only is he a trumpeter, but also a pianist and composer.

The 64-year-old was born in Artemisa, Cuba and picked up classical trumpet when he was 12. But then he was soon influenced by jazz artists Charlie Parker, Clifford Brown, and Dizzy Gillespie.

It wasn't until 1977 did Sandoval meet Gillespie, who promptly took the Cuban under his wing and became his mentor. They played in concerts in Europe, Cuba and featured him in The United Nations Orchestra.

While touring with Gillespie in Spain in 1990, Sandoval defected to the United States and later became a naturalized citizen in 1999.

Sandoval's energetic music got audiences tapping their feet
Sandoval became the subject of a TV film in 2000 called For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story, with Andy Garcia starring as Sandoval.

And in 2013, US President Barack Obama awarded Sandoval the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

It was pretty amazing to see him in person in Macau, at the Venetian Theatre -- in the second row! The last time I was there was for one of the last shows of Zaia... the large auditorium space was much too big for a jazz concert, and wasn't completely filled either.

Sandoval hinted that he and the band had just been to Taipei the night before and were blown away by the reception. So he wondered what Macau would be like, and hinted that the audience's response to tonight's concert would determine if he would come back here.

So we tried our best to make him feel welcome, though his talent and those of his band members were so impressive we clapped a lot in appreciation.

Not being a jazz aficionado I can't tell you all the songs he played, but he felt very comfortable on stage, walking back and forth, picking up one trumpet, then another, or going to his keyboard to bang out a few chords.

But it was his ability to manipulate his voice which was amazing. He and Bobby McFerrin should have a voice-off to see who can do the better special effects. Sandoval imitated a tuba which was amazing, and would "sing" gobbledygook which was fun too. He didn't care what you thought -- he was having fun on stage.

He sang a gorgeous rendition of Dear Diz (Everyday I Think of You) that was tender and delicate, and his own interpretations of A Night in Tunisia, and The Lady is a Tramp that got a standing ovation.

The saxophonist was technically brilliant, a young guy with glasses, shirt, tie and vest, musically jousting with Sandoval, who wore a black T-shirt and slacks and rubbed his large tummy a lot.

However after a while the saxophonist was predictable, doing similar moves, while the pianist was very serious, another young guy, but knew exactly when to show off, or play in the background, was flamboyant in parts, but also delicate in others. There was also a drummer and guitarist/bassist, and a percussion guy mostly on the bongo drums.

After almost two hours, the concert was over, including the encore, to which many stood up clapping. Will Sandoval come back again? Hard to say, but we were thrilled to have a jazz legend play for us!

Arturo Sandoval Quintet
The Venetian Theatre


  1. Sounds like you had a great time -- and a great seat for the concert! :)

    1. HI YTSL! Yes! Enjoyed it a lot! If the concert was in Hong Kong tickets would surely have been at least double if not triple... probably heavily subsidized by gamblers!