Arturo Sandoval
Sandoval performing in 2008
Sandoval performing in 2008
Background information
Born (1949-11-06) 6 November 1949 (age 74)
Artemisa, Cuba
Years active1977–present
Sandoval playing the timbales

Arturo Sandoval (born November 6, 1949) is a Cuban-American jazz trumpeter, pianist, timbalero, and composer. While living in his native Cuba, Sandoval was influenced by jazz musicians Charlie Parker, Clifford Brown, and Dizzy Gillespie. In 1977 he met Gillespie, who became his friend and mentor and helped him defect from Cuba while on tour with the United Nations Orchestra. Sandoval became an American naturalized citizen in 1998. His life was the subject of the film For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story (2000) starring Andy García.

Sandoval has won 10 Grammy Awards, Billboard Awards and one Emmy Award. He performed at the White House[1] and at the Super Bowl (1995)[2]

Life and career

Sandoval in the East Room of the White House, celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Sandoval was born into a poor family in Artemisa, a small village in the province of Havana, Cuba. He started playing music at the age of thirteen in the village band, learning the basics of music theory and percussion. After playing many instruments, he finally settled on the trumpet, playing with street musicians. In 1964, Sandoval enrolled at the Cuban National School of Arts where he took classical trumpet lessons for three years, and earned a place in the country's all-star national band. He helped establish the Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna, which became the band Irakere in 1973. He toured worldwide with his own group in 1981. During the following year he toured with Dizzy Gillespie, who became his friend and mentor. From 1982 to 1984, he was voted Cuba's Best Instrumentalist and was a guest artist at the BBC and Leningrad Symphony Orchestras.

In 1989, Gillespie invited Sandoval to be part of the United Nations Orchestra. During a tour with this group, Sandoval visited the American Embassy in Athens, Greece, accompanied by Gillespie who helped him with his plan to defect from Cuba. He became an American citizen on December 7, 1998.[3]

Sandoval has performed Latin jazz with Paquito D'Rivera, Tito Puente, and Chico O'Farrill, Cuban music in Miami, and classical music in England and Germany. In the 1990s, he was a member of the GRP All-Star Big Band.[3]

In 2014, Sandoval performed at Eastman Theatre with Zane Musa, Dave Siegel, Teymur Phel, Johnny Friday, and Armando Arce.[4]

He has taught at Florida International University and Whitworth University, where he is in charge of its jazz ensemble.[5] He has performed with Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony and National Symphony Orchestras. In 1996, Sandoval was commissioned by the Kennedy Center Ballet to score Pepito's Story, a ballet based on the book by Eugene Fern and choreographed by Debbie Allen. Sandoval also composed a classical trumpet concerto that he performed and recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Awards and honors

Sandoval's score for a film about his life won an Emmy Award.[6] His compositions and performances can be heard on The Mambo Kings, which was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1992 for Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture or for Television.[7]

His song "A Mis Abuelos" (To My Grandparents) received Grammy Award nominations for Best Instrumental Composition and Best Arrangement. This composition appeared on his Grammy-winning album Danzon.[7]

On November 20, 2013, President Barack Obama presented Sandoval with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.[8]

Other work

In 2015, Arturo Sandoval joined the 14th annual Independent Music Awards judging panel to assist independent musicians' careers.[9] He was also a judge for the 10th,[10] 12th[11] and 13th Independent Music Awards.[12]


Arturo Sandoval at the 1984 International Jazz Festival in Prague

As leader

As sideman

With Willy Chirino

With Ed Calle

With the GRP All-Star Big Band

With Dave Grusin

With Irakere

With others



  1. ^ Shanahan, Mark (28 November 2016). "A Castro critic was playing Scullers when he learned of the former Cuban leader's death". Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  2. ^ Clary, Mike (23 April 1997). "Trumpeter Arturo Sandoval Is Denied U.S. Citizenship". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Diaz Ayala, Cristóbal; Kernfeld, Barry (2002). Kernfeld, Barry (ed.). The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz. Vol. 3 (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries. p. 499. ISBN 1-56159-284-6.
  4. ^ Kelly Mullaney (October 28, 2014). "Grammy Winner and Cuban Jazz Legend Arturo Sandoval comes to Rochester". Democrat and Chronicle. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  5. ^ "Guest Artist: Arturo Sandoval". Whitworth University. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  6. ^ "For Love Or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story". Emmys. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Arturo Sandoval". Grammys. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  8. ^ "Arturo Sandoval receives Presidential Medal of Freedom". International Trumpet Guild. International Trumpet Guild. January 29, 2020. Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  9. ^ "The 14th Annual Independent Music Awards Winners Announced". Independent Music Awards. July 16, 2015. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  10. ^ "The 10th Annual Independent Music Awards Winners Announced". Independent Music Awards. February 16, 2011. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  11. ^ "The 12th Annual Independent Music Awards Winners Announced". Independent Music Awards. March 19, 2013. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  12. ^ "The 13th Annual Independent Music Awards Winners Announced". Independent Music Awards. March 17, 2014. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  13. ^ Music Hound Jazz ed. Steve Holtje, Music Hound, Nancy Ann Lee: 2001