In what promises to be a breakthrough achievement in a long and celebrated career, jazz impresario Arturo Sandoval's collection A Time For Love will be released by Concord Jazz. The album features classical compositions for orchestra and jazz trio by Grammy-winning arranger Jorge Calandrelli along with a sprinkling of American jazz standards by composers including Gershwin and Chaplin.
The Havana-born Sandoval, a multiple Grammy-winning horn player, has been yearning to do this album for decades. "It's been twenty years since I came to live in the United States," he explains, "and practically every year, with every record label who's signed me, I've asked to make this style album. ‘Let me play softly,' I said. ‘Let me play ballads with big orchestration behind me. Let me hear the violins and violas, the oboes and the flutes. Let me be inspired by a symphonic setting."
However, record labels were reluctant to endorse this type of work by an artist known internationally for his own style of bebop-influenced Afro-Cuban jazz and for his technical precision. So, he took matters into his own hands by recording 20 tracks in his home studio that he described as speaking "the language of love." A superb keyboardist as well as trumpet player, Sandoval played all the instruments and suggested the strings through a synthesizer.
Just when Sandoval was convinced that he would have to release the album himself, a meeting was held with Concord executive Gregg Field, who immediately embraced the project concept and agreed to come aboard as the album's producer. "Over the next month, we discussed different ideas. As a foundation, Arturo had heard the Shelly Berg Trio album Blackbird and wanted that sound and sensitivity," said Field. "I suggested Jorge Calandrelli as the arranger for the orchestra and Arturo, who had worked with Jorge in the past, loved the idea. Jorge has tremendous experience with multiple genres including classical cross-over having produced and arranged among others, YoYo Ma's Soul of the Tango and Obrigato Brazil."
While the album features selections from the Great American Songbook of jazz standards, the focus is reinterpreting the works of classical composers including Ravel, Feure and Piazolla. Classically trained himself, Sandoval was influenced by such artists as Maynard Ferguson, Conrad Gozzo, Woody Herman, Charlie Parker and most importantly, his mentor Dizzy Gillespie.
The album reflects all of these diverse influences, but in particular Sandoval cites trumpet player Bobby Hackett, best known for his work with the multi-layered arrangements of the Jackie Gleason orchestra, and the album Clifford Brown with Strings, as the record's inspirational touchstones. "These were lush records that thrilled my imagination. They made me realize that the trumpet, for all its brash power, can be a romantic and intimate instrument of love, says Sandoval.
A highlight of the album is the track featuring Sandoval and guest trumpeter Chris Botti on Ravel's "Pavane for a Dead Princess." Says Field about the collaboration, "Having two of the most famous trumpet players on the planet in the same room playing together was an event unto itself!"
Another highlight features vocalist Monica Mancini singing on the Astor Piazolla composition "Oblivion," which debuts an English lyric written for her for the recording. Sandoval also sings on the album in both Italian and English ("Estate" and "Smile").
Truly a melding of classical repertoire with jazz, A Time For Love is a major departure for Sandoval, yet immediately familiar in its timeless ballads. "The song selection process was something that I'd begun when I was a kid back in Cuba," says the artist, referring to how while growing up he would surreptitiously listen to the officially banned Voice of America radio broadcasts. "This is a project of a lifetime, and no one could be more thrilled than me to have this precious opportunity.