Arturo Sandoval

The Best of Arturo Sandoval

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The skimpy booklet accompanying this compilation is of no help whatsoever -- no personnel, no dates, no sources -- and one can only presume from some of the vintage instruments and rhythms that these tracks were probably recorded in the early '80s before Arturo Sandoval's defection and subsequent GRP contract. But regardless, Best of Arturo Sandoval does present the Cuban trumpeter at his most charismatic, with his golden tone and fearless technique reaching high into the stratosphere at the slightest provocation. The collection runs blithely through a gamut of idioms -- electronic semi-reggae ("Reggae Mi Lugar"), sheer MOR lounge pap ("My Way"), show tunes (West Side Story's "Maria"), Sandoval-penned pieces in an electric jazz-lite format, and even a nifty small-group blues eventually scuttled by Sandoval's overreaching. The most ambitious cut by far is a 15-minute live workout with an electric band on "A Night in Tunisia," in which Sandoval trumpets and showboats at supersonic speeds in an awesome display of ego and lip strength. Again, Sandoval comes off as an irresistible force of nature with eclectic and questionable tastes.

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