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Arturo Sandoval opens Manchester Craftsmen's Guild season with Dear Diz Tour

| Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Arturo Sandoval will open the season Sept. 22 at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild.
Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild
Arturo Sandoval will open the season Sept. 22 at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild.

Arturo Sandoval says Dizzy Gillespie has been an inspiration for every jazz musician, particularly trumpet players.

“He is perhaps the biggest influence in my music,” the Cuban-born trumpeter says. “He has a strong influence in everything I do. Everything we all do.”

Sandoval, 67, the winner of 10 Grammy awards, will open the season Sept. 22 at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild with his Dear Diz Tour. The program will feature original music of Sandoval as well as the classics of Gillespie (1917-93).

“It should be a good show especially for bebop fans,” Sandoval says.

The bebop connection is an obvious one because Gillespie was one of the progenitors of that hard-driving, improvisation-dominated school of jazz.

But Gillespie also has a large connection to the land from which Sandoval hails. Gillespie saw a role in jazz in the music from Cuba and helped to create Afro-Cuban Jazz, a subset that has thrived since he spawned it in the late 1940s.

Those element in Gillespie's music have helped to shape Sandoval's music in overall approach and even in the small details, the Cuban native says.

“When you listen to him, you can't avoid stealing a phrase, a lick here and there,” he says with a laugh.

Sandoval was a founding member of the famous Cuban band, Irakere, and was touring with his own group in the late ‘80s when Gillespie heard him. Sandoval began playing with Gillespie's United Nations Orchestra in 1990.

He defected from Cuba and, after some difficulty with the immigration process, became a U.S. citizen 1998. President Barack Obama awarded him the Medal of Freedom in 2013.

While Sandoval has released a Grammy-winning album called “Dear Diz” and a book about his mentor, “The Man Who Changed My Life,” he also takes his music other ways.

He has performed with Celine Dion on a Grammy broadcast, with Alicia Keys at the Billboard Awards, and is recording a duet album that will feature such performers as Placido Domingo.

He also has written his own classical-style trumpet concerto and been the soloist in the well-known showpiece by Franz Josef Haydn to one by John Williams.

That broad approach to music also reflects the season at the North Side venue, which is in its 31st year or presenting a variety of jazz.

From the bebop of Sandoval, the season's concerts will include the gypsy-jazz of fiddler-guitarist Dorado Schmitt and a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra.

It also will include the contemporary work of saxophonist Mindi Abair and trumpeter-singer Bria Skonberg.

Sandoval thinks such variety is helping jazz not only survive, but grow.

“Things seem better in music than a few years ago,” he says. “That could be because people are hearing more things.”

Bob Karlovits is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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