Trumpeter Arturo Sandoval is one of those cats who can never be predictable. He's either amazing -- actually, technically he always is -- or his records are putrid exercises in hollow proficiency with no soul. Trumpet Evolution, which is literally a journey through the great trumpeters from jazz's and orchestral music's past, is easily the finest moment of Sandoval's long career and one of the greatest records jazz has produced in the preceding two decades. Sandoval has compiled a collection of tunes by composers and fellow horn players, from King Oliver to Wynton Marsalis, performed by a big band and, when needed, an orchestra, too. It isn't just playing tunes by these men -- whose tracks are sequenced in order of birthdate of the source of inspiration -- it's the mastery of their techniques; and given that there are 19 subjects here, that's a hell of a lot of mastery. And that word is not overused. Indeed what appears in the ear of the listener seems to be the creation of the impossible. Whether striding out blues by Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, and Oliver, playing in the hot bebop styles of Dizzy Gillespie, Fats Navarro, and Clifford Brown, the muted, elegant silkiness of the warm, thin-toned masters such as Chet Baker, Harry James, and Miles Davis, or classical maestros such as Maurice Andre, Rafael Méndez, or Timofei Dokshizer and the full-throated sweetness of Bunny Berigan, Cootie Williams, Clark Terry, and Roy Eldridge, or the hard edgy sounds of Maynard Ferguson, or the technically perfect pitch of Marsalis, the effect is the same, perfection, and not just technical. The emotional sonances of these tunes ring as true as if Sandoval wrote them himself. In the booklet, either the musician paid tribute to or a relative or associate offering quotes, of course, praise Sandoval's work. And while the album is self-produced as well, Quincy Jones acted as an executive producer and no doubt wrote some charts. His contribution is noteworthy as well for its depth and warmth overall. This is a record so fine, so full of passion, grace, and elegance it simply needs to be heard to be believed.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek