"Live at the Blue Note"
Arturo Sandoval is the Maynard Ferguson of Cuba, a crowd-pleasing trumpeter of overwhelming technique and underwhelming invention. Given Sandoval's onstage charisma, it's surprising that "Live at the Blue Note" is the first live album in his 40-year career. Recorded with his septet over several June 2004 shows at the Manhattan club, the new release pulls out all the items in Sandoval's bag of tricks: the impressive imitations of Dizzy Gillespie's cadenzas, the sentimental ballads, the blues vamping, the Latin-funk grooves, the switch to piano, the nimble scat singing and so on.
"Live at the Blue Note" is a double-disc package, but the CD and the DVD contain the same nine performances. The DVD, shot and assembled by Andy Mensing, captures the intimacy of the Village venue but is darkly lit, poorly framed and haphazardly edited. The DVD comes with a backstage interview that allows Sandoval's talking head to repeat his usual answers to the standard questions.
The most interesting aspect of the CD is the case it makes for Felipe Lamoglia as one of the more interesting young tenor saxophonists of our time. He shares his employer's blistering speed but shapes the outpouring of notes into cogent statements, especially on his own composition, the brisk, finger-snapping "Eastern Blues."
-- Geoffrey Himes
Appearing through Sunday at Blues Alley.