A 10-time GRAMMY winner, Arturo Sandoval is simply the greatest living Cuban trumpet player and a legend of Latin jazz. He has forged his own bold synthesis of bebop and Cuban styles, playing a central role in revolutionizing Cuban music as founding member of Irakere, one of the most innovative and influential Afro-Cuban bands of all time whose embrace of the jazz tradition flew in the face of state-sanctioned music of the island nation.
Sandoval’s hero Dizzy Gillespie helped spread the trumpeter’s reputation by showcasing his stratospheric technique and soulful melodic sense in the United Nations Orchestra, and it was during a 1990 tour with the bebop legend that Sandoval defected to the U.S. to finally escape the oppression of Castro’s government. His life was the subject of HBO’s biographical film For Love or Country starring Andy García in the title role, and 25 years after his escape from Communist rule, Sandoval paid tribute to his mentor Gillespie with his 2012 Concord release, Dear Diz (Everyday I Think of You), winning a GRAMMY for Best Large Jazz Ensemble. He’s recorded nearly 30 albums as a leader and worked with a legion of artists ranging from Tito Puente and Paquito D’Rivera to Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. In 2013, President Obama awarded Sandoval the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in recognition of his lifetime of cultural contributions.