Sandoval sextet brings ex­plosive jazz to Basie stage


By drew bolognini

Sandoval sextet brings
ex­plosive jazz to Basie stage

The opportunity to see world-class jazz performed to perfection is usually reserved for the New York City jazz scene. Finding four-star-quality jazz in Monmouth County is as rare as a bright sunny weekend at the Shore this rainy summer. The recent performance by renowned trumpet player Arturo Sandoval at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank boldly underscores this point.

Sandoval, who was granted political asylum in the United States from his native Cuba in 1990, has been a prolific performer and composer of jazz and classical music over the years. This Dizzy Gillespie protégé is equally gifted and comfortable on the flugelhorn, piano and percussion, as well as being an accomplished scat-singer. In addition to his role as band leader, he is a tenured professor at Florida International University with a list of accomplishments that includes movie scores.

The two-hour set Sandoval presented at the Basie Aug. 9 showcased the talents of all the members of the sextet, but as with any band that features Latin styles, percussion is the driving force.

Anchoring the rhythm section were drummer Ernesto Simpson and percussionist Samuel Torres. Bassist Dennis Marks rounded out the rhythm section. The trio kept the driving force of the evening at a fever pitch. Completing the group are Robert Rodriguez on piano and saxophone player Felipe Luis LaMoglia. Each player brought rich texture to the compositions and demonstrated incredible control of dynamics throughout the evening.

It was a blend of explosive Latin jazz, straight-ahead jazz, and dramatic ballads, including a beautiful rendition of Chet Baker’s "My Funny Valentine."

Sandoval provided many shining moments, the most prominent being a 10-minute scat session during which he imitated the sound of a stand-up bass, the other when he took to the piano stool and showcased his versatility on the "88s"— particularly on the original composition "Soureonoa." Accompanied by the crowd-pleasing Torres on the maracas, this magical number elicited a standing ovation from the audience.

Whether hitting his trademark high notes on the trumpet, creating musical tension on the flugelhorn, or thrilling with his energetic percussion work, Sandoval showed why he is a heavy hitter in the world of jazz. For those in attendance it was a rare opportunity to see real musical genius in action.

In other local music news, Shore-area blues band The Incinerators played their final gig at Crossroads Bar & Cafe in Asbury Park the same night. This electrifying, five-piece, funky, rockin’, Chicago-style group will be sorely missed.

The break-up, precipitated by bassist "Big Al" Scherr’s struggles with arthritis and the departure of guitarist Gregg Scott to spend more time with family, brings an end to one of the more exciting bands in the area. Guitarist/lead vocalist John Fernandez said, "I’m interested in playing still, but without those two guys, it just won’t be the same."

The band appeared at the Clearwater Festival in Asbury last weekend and has one more area gig left Saturday before the final curtain is dropped. Catch them at Fat Cat’s in Seaside Heights.

The Jazz and Blues on the Beach series at West End Park in Long Branch is wrapping up another season with local favorites Terraplane Blues on Sunday at 7 p.m.

The summer music season in Long Branch concludes on Aug. 30 with the fourth annual BeachFest, sponsored by the Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation. Due to all the construction going on at the waterfront, this year’s event will be held in West End Park. The free event features Night Train, Swing-A-Delic, The Fins and the Bill Simms American Roots Orchestra. Performances begin at 2 p.m.

Summer’s almost over, so get out and end the season on a high note.