Arturo Sandoval plays a horn that could cut glass. But surprisingly, some of his most winning moments came at his quietest, when he was singing his sweet tribute to Dizzy Gillespie, “Every Day I Think of You.”
Sandoval and his skin-tight band were half a double bill that closed this year’s ArtsNaples World Festival Latin theme Tuesday at Artis—Naples in a fitting meld of Latin American jazz and North American influence. Brazilian-born Romero Lubambo and the Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra led the evening with a mixed set of his own songs and Antonio Carlos Jobim works: “Corcovado (Quiet nights of quiet stars),” “Wave” and “A Felicidade.”
While the orchestra and Lubambo were occasionally still knitting themselves together, and the tempo of “A Felicidade” too breathtaking to enjoy, there were tasty moments of everyone. To Lubambo’s obvious delight, Dan Miller darted in with his bumblebee trumpet solo on “Corcovado”; Lew Del Gatto switched from sax to flute to sweeten some of the works he played in. Kevin Mauldin handled a hearty bass and Glenn Basham was ready with classic jazz riffs on the violin — yes, the violin. Percussionist Mike Harvey traded spirited licks with Lubambo on “Bachaio” and keyboardist Jerry Stawski was ready with keyboard solos at a nod.
But Lubambo gave the audience one of its biggest thrill rides playing solo on Carlos Lyra’s “Influencia do Jazz,” He dazzled, working the strings as if he had 30, not 10, fingers. That and “Song for Kaya,” a warm jazz treat, set the bar high for Sandoval’s entrance.
Cuban native Sandoval is blessed with every talent you want onstage. His musicianship spans multiple instruments — at one point he played a piano showpiece — and he has a strong scat voice and a gift for patter. He won the crowd in his opening number, going into a scat sequence both riveting and comic after blowing one of his famous well-over-high-C trumpet solos.
He has no fear about chiding people leaving mid-set, although a little of that goes a long way. Some of this audience at the venue formerly known as the Philharmonic Center actually did have babysitters to get home to.
And as much as we love Sandoval, we love his band, too, who were, alas, uncredited in the program.
Every one of them was glued to the music. Tony Perez flew from keyboards to synthesizer for work from dreamlike intros to the flashy closer, “A Night in Tunisia.” (He even wove patches of “It Might As Well Be Spring “ into “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.”) And drummer Alex “Putuli” Arce set a rhythm impossible not to tap toes to. We had to stop when the rhythm began migrating to our hips and head.
Venezuela-born Ed Calle, Arturo’s sax counterpart since the ‘90s, contributed a song, his “Mam-blue,” to the set and matched the star on a duel right in the opening and promised a figurative, as well as literal, blast.
Actually, the music did open up at a paint-peeling level, but Sandoval quickly adjusted, and continued to through the evening. The result? A warm bath, not a barrage, of sound.
There were no encores, but after 2½ hours of exciting music, no one could complain about being shortchanged.
And those who read the Arts Naples World Festival information book got a bit of extra good news: The theme plan for next year is Italy.