Arturo Sandoval

And His Group

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Arturo Sandoval & His Group contains 11 songs which take the listener on an instrumental pop/jazz journey that is completely satisfying and full of musical surprises. The close to seven minutes of "Para Empezar a Vivir" is pure '80s lounge while "Cuatro Gigantes" starts off with traditional Latin sounds before veering off into Weather Report territory. The cover of Jennings/Kerr's "Yo Nunca Volveré a Amar de Esta Manera" has Sandoval scorching the horn in parts; it's far more intrusive than Dionne Warwick's beautiful rendition of her Top Five 1979 hit "I'll Never Love This Way Again." At certain points, Sandoval intentionally tears into the melody while the band has some fun with the rhythm, the ending disintegrating into mayhem and one wondering if some satire isn't going on. The packaging is exquisite, including a 20-page booklet -- ten pages in English; ten in Spanish -- with photos and extensive credits. Helio Orovio's liner notes are spot on and make for great reading while "Variaciones Para una Mazurca de Chopin" plays in the background, taking a turn into the mysterious and exotic, sounds that shimmer inside a beautiful undercurrent. There's a lot to take in on this single disc and even after repeated spins it holds plenty of secrets, a work of art containing ideas that drift in and out before you realize how quickly the dimensions keep shifting. It is a group effort with Sandoval giving his bandmates plenty of space to showcase their skills, especially on their total musical revision of Gershwin's "Summertime." "Sábado 14" is one of only two Arturo Sandoval originals, taking bits of "Moon River" and '80s disco with perhaps a dash of Stevie Wonder. It's yet another fine disc for the bachelor pad fans.