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Must-see Afro-Cuban jazz: Arturo Sandoval plays three shows at the Smith Center

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Horn of plenty: Arturo Sandoval will show his range this weekend at the Smith Center.

While serving in the Cuban military—not his choice—Arturo Sandoval would dial up shortwave radio programs to hear American jazz. When his sergeant caught him listening, he was jailed. The seeds for the trumpet player’s future defection to the U.S. were planted, and it’s more than just a little symbolic that Sandoval will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom later this year.

It’s also well-deserved. Accomplishments abound on Sandoval’s musical CV: a student of bebop, a master of Afro-Cuban jazz, an innovator of Cubop (naturally), a practitioner of flugelhorn and more than a casual classical pianist/composer. The 64-year-old symbol of artistic versatility also is renowned for his range—especially when it comes to the high notes—as well as his intuition with technique. He seemingly has it all covered.

Speaking of which, last year Sandoval released Dear Diz (Every Day I Think of You), a Latin/Afro-Cuban covers record celebrating the music of his mentor Dizzy Gillespie, who befriended the young Cuban maestro during a 1977 trip to Havana and assisted in his 1990 defection. Expect to hear selections from that Grammy-winning record, along with a generous helping of his own original compositions, during Sandoval’s must-see, three-performance stand at Cabaret Jazz.

Arturo Sandoval September 13, 7 p.m.; September 14, 3 & 7 p.m.; $42-$52. Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center, 749-2000.

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