Though it was staged indoors at night, trumpeter Arturo Sandoval's concert at the Birchmere on Saturday resembled a sun-splashed summer break.
All the elements were in place: festive salsa tunes, fiery Cu-bop excursions, romantic piano rhapsodies, freewheeling scat interludes, even some amusing mimicry. Turns out no one plays an imaginary contrabass quite like Sandoval.
No one plays the trumpet quite like him, either. Beginning with "Real McBop," a Latin jazz romp that instantly linked the Cuban-born Sandoval to Dizzy Gillespie, his role model and mentor, the bandleader's tone, precision and remarkable range came into sharp focus. As the sold-out concert unfolded, Sandoval occasionally tempered the mood with a warmer-toned fluegelhorn.
But whether soaring over a bop-inspired chord progression or quietly producing passages brimming with burnished lyricism, his virtuosity was never in question.
Tenor saxophonist Felipe Lamoglia proved a worthy foil from the outset, projecting a robust tone and engaging Sandoval in a series of feisty exchanges and braided choruses.
The tunes, which ranged from Toots Thielemans's insinuating "Bluesette" to the salsa encore "Sandunga," allowed Sandoval plenty of room to stretch out, and he took full advantage of it. "Surena" made for a richly evocative piano interlude.
Sandoval's contributions on synthesizer, on the other hand, were more decorative, adding orchestral textures, guitarlike blues bends and a faux harmonica solo to the arrangements.
Meanwhile, pianist Phil Magallanes, bassist Dennis Marks, percussionist Tomas Cruz and drummer Alexis Arce balanced colorfully crafted solos with churning intensity.
-- Mike Joyce