A fes­ti­val to leave you Dizzy

Ar­turo San­doval will salute his men­tor, Dizzy Gillespie, at the mu­sic-packed Fes­ti­val of the Arts Boca.

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - South Broward - - SPOTLIGHT - By Phillip Valys

In his new mem­oir, “The Man Who Changed My Life,” jazz trum­peter Ar­turo San­doval shares rec­ol­lec­tions of his be­bop idol, Dizzy Gillespie, the Amer­i­can jazz gi­ant and fa­ther fig­ure who helped him de­fect from Cuba to the United States 24 years ago. An un­dated photo from the time de­picts a smil­ing San­doval and Gillespie, arms over each other’s broad shoul­ders. A ded­i­ca­tion in blue marker is scrawled over the pic­ture: “To Num­ber 1 Son Ar­turo — Love For­ever, ‘Papa’ Dizzy.”

“That is my fa­vorite photo of all,” San­doval re­calls, speak­ing by phone from his home in Los Angeles. “He was my hero, and when you have an op­por­tu­nity to be a good friend with your hero, it’s like a gift from God. A lot of things hap­pened over the years, but that re­la­tion­ship I al­ways trea­sured in my heart, you know.”

Gillespie’s in­flu­ence on San­doval will be on dis­play Satur­day night at the Mizner Park Am­phithe­ater, site of the eighth an­nual Fes­ti­val of the Arts Boca. A mar­quee act of the nine-day fes­ti­val, which be­gan Thurs­day night and will wrap March 15, San­doval will draw ma­te­rial from his 2012 re­lease of Gillespie cov­ers, “Dear Diz (Ev­ery Day I Think of You),” which con­tains slick, Latin-spiced ar­range­ments of “A Night in Tu­nisia,” “Salt Peanuts,” “Con Alma” and other clas­sics. Back­ing him at the con­cert will be the Henry Mancini In­sti­tute Orches­tra, from the Univer­sity of Mi­ami’s Frost School of Mu­sic, along with Grammy-nom­i­nated singer Mon­ica Mancini, daugh­ter of Henry.

San­doval, a for­mer Mi­ami res­i­dent, still cher­ishes his bond with the free-spir­ited joker who died in 1993, but says such “trib­utes” — al­bums or books — can hardly re­pay Gillespie for the years he spent nur­tur­ing his trum­pet­ing ca­reer in the 1970s.

“He came to Ha­vana from a jazz cruise, and I met him at the dock and did not speak a lick of English,” the nine-time Grammy win­ner re­calls of their ini­tial meet­ing in 1977. “For him, I was just a driver. I drove him all over the city in my ’51 Ply­mouth and to a jam ses­sion that night with Stan Getz. One year later, he in­vited us [San­doval’s Afro-Cuban band Irakere] to come play New York at Carnegie Hall. Carnegie Hall!”

Nearly four decades on, San­doval has built a blis­ter­ing, pro­lific ca­reer that in­cludes 49 al­bums span­ning straight-ahead jazz to Latin-in­fused num­bers. In Oc­to­ber, Pres­i­dent Obama handed him a Pres­i­den­tial Medal of Free­dom, and at the cer­e­mony he rubbed el­bows with for­mer pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, Oprah Win­frey and other hon­ored hu­man­i­tar­i­ans. But the mem­oir, out April 1, is his cur­rent ob­ses­sion, a project as­sem­bled from an idea by his wife, Mar­i­anela.

“She’s more in­tel­li­gent than me,” San­doval says with a chuckle. “That’s why I didn’t think to do it first. I wanted to share all these pho­tos [I] never pub­lished. I don’t want to keep it for me. My life is an open book. There are no se­crets. I don’t like to hide any­thing.”

San­doval’s ap­pear­ance at Fes­ti­val of the Arts Boca — his third — is part of a vi­brant bill of world­class mu­si­cians. Also per­form­ing is vir­tu­oso violinist Itzhak Perl­man, who played Thurs­day but will re­turn Sun­day for a night of klezmer mu­sic along­side Jewish can­tor Yitzchak Meir Helf­got. Swing­ing into town next week will be the high-fly­ing aeri­al­ists of Cirque de la Sym­phonie (March 14) and tenor opera trio Forte, fi­nal­ists on NBC’s “Amer­ica’s Got Talent.”

Fes­ti­val co-founder Char­lie Siemon counts San­doval among the fes­ti­val’s most-gen­er­ous mu­si­cians, re­call­ing how he loaned his brassy tal­ents to the in­au­gu­ral edi­tion and played with the Boca Ra­ton Sym­pho­nia the fol­low­ing year.

“He added early lo­cal pres­tige and an in­fec­tious per­son­al­ity, and de­servedly so,” Siemon says. “He’s a great guy. The pres­i­dent didn’t give him the Free­dom Medal for no rea­son at all, and I be­lieve he cares deeply about mu­sic and con­nect­ing young people with the long tra­di­tion of clas­si­cal mu­sic.”

Siemon, long a pro­po­nent of court­ing the younger set to the fes­ti­val, thinks the tenors who com­pose Forte should deliver a fu­sion of pop and opera stan­dards

Where: ca­pa­ble of con­vert­ing even ca­sual lis­ten­ers. When they per­form March 15 as the fes­ti­val’s clos­ing act, the trio of Josh Page, Sean Panikkar and Fer­nando Varela will per­form Ce­line Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” the Right­eous Broth­ers’ “Unchained Melody” and Puc­cini’s “Nes­sun Dorma,” ac­com­pa­nied by the Henry Mancini en­sem­ble un­der the ba­ton of con­duc­tor Con­stan­tine Kit­sopou­los.

The 33-year- old Varela, a church mu­sic di­rec­tor in Belle­view, a city 66 miles north­west of Or­lando, says Page as­sem­bled the band weeks be­fore the au­di­tions for “Amer­ica’s Got Talent.” They com­mu­ni­cated through Skype and email, and met for the first time in per­son hours be­fore their New York au­di­tion. Their pop-in­fused act car­ried the trio to a fourth-place fin­ish on the re­al­ity show in Septem­ber and an im­me­di­ate record­ing con­tract with Colom­bia Records. Their de­but al­bum, “Au­toRip,” was re­leased in Novem­ber.

“Lit­er­ally min­utes af­ter we walk off­stage, the pres­i­dent of Sony North Amer­ica said, ‘We’re sign­ing you to a record deal. Can you go into the stu­dio to­mor­row?’ ” Varela says. “I think people re­ally con­nect with the iden­tity of our group. Sean sings clas­si­cal opera, and I sing cross­over, and Josh is the third, youth­ful singer, very much in touch with this younger gen­er­a­tion. It’s three dif­fer­ent col­ors, and when we sing to­gether, it’s a beau­ti­ful blend.”

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