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Sandoval performs an energetic show

Trumpet legend headlines 'Save the Music 2!' benefit at Alex Theatre.

February 18, 2014|By Kirk Silsbee
  • Musician Arturo Sandoval played a benefit concert for the Arturo Sandoval Institute, Glendale Arts and Glendale Education Foundation at the Alex Theatre in Glendale on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014.
Musician Arturo Sandoval played a benefit concert for… (Raul Roa / Staff…)

Every time trumpet virtuoso Arturo Sandoval plays, he gives a tutorial. The same can be said of many musicians, of course, but what sets Sandoval apart is his example as a man and as an American. Those qualities were on full display Saturday, as he performed with his renowned big band and a high school band.

The naturalized Cuban exile left his country at great personal risk for the United States. Not content with a music career with an international profile, he has become a hands-on advocate for music in Southern California public schools.

Sandoval headed Saturday's "Save the Music 2!" benefit at the Alex Theatre, the site of last year's inaugural fundraiser for ASI, the Arturo Sandoval Institute. The near-capacity crowd of 1,300 people swelled the coffers of ASI, which brings scholarships, private instruction and master classes music to deserving students. Spokeswoman and ASI board member Mercy Velazquez announced the organization's mission is to "educate, support and inspire our students."

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Results of that program delighted the Alex audience, as an all-star orchestra of student players from Glendale, Hoover, Calabasas and Crescenta Valley high schools opened the show. Led by director Frank Vardaros, the band acquitted itself reasonably well while backing Sandoval on his bolero, "Closely Dancing." Orchestra sections — trumpet, trombone and reeds — need to cook slowly over time to develop cohesion. Rhythm sections, in particular, need time and effort to adhere, and this one would benefit from more experience and playing time together.

Sandoval exited and on an unannounced swing bounce, tenor saxophonist Kevin Kasimov showed promise in getting around his horn. Trumpeter Sam Kang gave an exuberant solo, causing Vardaros to bring the dynamics of the ensemble up underneath him for some spontaneous excitement.

"Sounded beautiful, guys," Sandoval quipped as he reentered. "Sounds much better without me."

He then introduced every band member as each was given a certificate of appreciation. After an intermission, Sandoval joined with his own rhythm section. On the lilting "Bye Bye Blackbird," his trumpet danced lightly. By the third chorus the groove deepened, as drummer Johnny Friday emphasized the backbeats. Sandoval got into some serious swinging, while pianist Randy Waldman played with the beat, then against it, as bar lines were crossed on his wonderful solo.

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