Arturo Sandoval was born in Artemisa, Cuba on November 6, 1949 and began to play music at age 12 in the village band. After playing many instruments, he fell in love with the trumpet. In 1964, he began three years of serious classical trumpet studies at the Cuban National School of Arts. By the age of 16 he had earned a place in Cuba’s all-star national band and was totally immersed in jazz influenced by Charlie Parker, Clifford Brown and with Dizzy Gillespie as his idol and later mentor and colleague.
In 1971 he was drafted into the military. Luckily, Sandoval was still able to play with the Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna. In Cuba, Sandoval co-founded the band Irakere with Chucho Valdes and Paquito D’Rivera. They quickly became a worldwide sensation. Their appearance at the 1978 Newport Jazz Festival introduced them to American audiences and garnered them a recording contract with Columbia Records.
Arturo defected to the United States while touring in Spain with Dizzy in 1990, becoming a naturalized citizen in 1999 and has enjoyed a successful career. He has played with Woody Herman, Herbie Hancock, Woody Shaw, Stan Getz, Celine Dion, Tito Puente, Patti LaBelle, Frank Sinatra, Paul Anka, Gordon Goodwin and numerous others.
His life was the subject of the 2000 TV film For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story, starring Andy Garcia. He currently continues to perform, tour and record around the globe.
Poncho Sanchez was born October 30, 1951 in Laredo, Texas, the youngest of eleven children, but was reared in Norwalk, California. Exposed to and influenced by Afro-Cuban music (mambo, son, cha-cha, rumba, guaracha, salsa) and bebop jazz, he originally started as a guitarist. Discovering his talent for singing during an R&B band audition, he become the group’s lead vocalist. He later taught himself the flute, drums and timbales before finally deciding to pursue conga playing in high school.
In 1975, Sanchez’s idol, vibraphonist Cal Tjader invited him to perform one set with his band. Seeing the young man’s talent, Tjader hired Sanchez for a week before officially making him a full member of the ensemble. Sanchez played a crucial role as conguero for several years until Tjader’s death in 1982.
Before his death, Tjader suggested to Carl Jefferson, Concord Records founder, to sign Sanchez and his soon-to-be-formed group under the Concord Picante label. Tjader’s wishes were honored, and the first two records were composed and arranged by long-time Tjader collaborator Clare Fischer. Poncho produced 19 albums for the label and garnered a Grammy for his “Latin Soul” album.
He has played with Mongo Santamaria, Hugh Masekela and a host of jazz and Latin musicians and vocalists to numerous to name along with the iconic funk band Tower of Power on his “Do It” project. Poncho Sanchez is respected as one of the top percussionists of our time and continues to perform worldwide.
Jane Bunnett was born on October 22, 1956 in Toronto and began her musical educational as a classical pianist then switched to woodwinds at the Royal Conservatory. Inspired by Charles Mingus and Rahsaan Roland Kirk in 1979 San Francisco, she was studying jazz at York University. This led her to study with Barry Harris, James Newton, Frank Wess and James Moody and ultimately Steve Lacy in Paris in 1991.
Her debut recording “In Dew Time” featured an ambitious mix of Canadian and American players – pianist Don Pullen, tenor Dewey Redman and Vincent Chancy on French horn. This led to touring Canada and Australia and recording of her sophomore project a year later followed by two more by 1994.
Jane has become one of the foremost jazz musicians in Canada, and has gained recognition around the world for her improvising talents, technical proficiency, and writing and band leading abilities. She has received accolades and won awards from the Village Voice, SOCA, Downbeat Magazine, the National Jazz Awards of Canada, the Smithsonian Institute and the Jazz Journalist Association, her work has been nominated for several Grammy awards and received Canada’s highest award, the Order of Canada.
With sixteen albums under her belt, the saxophonist and outspoken humanitarian, Jane Bunnett continues to perform at jazz clubs, festivals, and concert halls and for broadcast throughout Canada, the United States, Europe, and Cuba, with her groups, and as a featured solo artist.
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David Sanchez was born on September 3, 1968 in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico and from an early age took up the conga when he was eight His earliest influences were Afro-Caribbean, danza, European and Latin classical. By age 12 David began playing the saxophone, attending La Escuela Libre de Musica, which emphasized formal musical studies.
Around the time he turned 14 he heard Miles Davis’ Basic Miles and Billy Holiday’s Lady In Satin. A few years later faced with college he chose Rutgers over Berklee for a better scholarship and nearer to New York City. While at Rutgers he studied with Kenny Baron, Ted Dunbar and John Purcell.
After a period freelancing in New York with many top Latin players including Paquito D’Rivera and Claudio Roditi, Sanchez joined Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nations Orchestra in 1990 and Dizzy became his mentor. With Dizzy’s group he toured 27 countries and 100 U.S. cities in 31 states.
Leaving the United Nation Orchestra, Sanchez continued to play in Dizzy’s trio until Dizzy’s death in 1993. He has toured with the Philip Morris Superband, recorded with Slide Hampton and his Jazz Masters, Roy Hargrove, Kenny Drew Jr., Ryan Kisor, Danilo Perez, Rachel Z and Hilton Ruiz.
The tenor saxophonist is well known as a leader with seven albums under his belt for Columbia Records. He won a Grammy for the “Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album” in 2004 for Coral. David Sanchez continues to compose, record, perform and tour.
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Jerry Gonzalez was born in the Bronx, New York City on June 5, 1949. Of Latin heritage, he grew up with jazz and Afro-Cuban music that left a deep impact on his musical appreciation. Listening to his father’s jazz collection he was influenced by Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong along with gleaning inspiration from Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri and Mongo Santamaria.
Studying music in junior high school, Gonzalez took up the trumpet and later the congas, continuing he formal training at New York College of Music and New York University. He began his professional career in 1963 playing with Lewellyn Mathews in New York State World’s Fair. In 1970 playing with Dizzy Gillespie, under whose tutelage he fused African based rhythms onto jazz elements seamlessly without detracting from either.
After playing with Manny Oquendo and Eddie Palmieri, Jerry created the Fort Apache Band with Andy Gonzalez (his brother), Larry Willis and Steve Berrios. A later reconfiguration and naming, Jerry Gonzalez & the Fort Apache Band became much more successful performing at European jazz festivals and subsequent recordings. Three albums later, “Rumba Para Monk” released in 1989, topped a readers’ poll in Down Beat magazine and was named the “Jazz Album Of The Year” in France by the Academie du Jazz. In 1998 they won both the industry and journalist polls in the New York Jazz Awards Latin Jazz category.
Gonzalez has played and/or collaborated with Tito Puente, McCoy Tyner, Jaco Pastorious, Chet Baker, Woody Shaw, Tony Williams, Larry Young, Freddie Hubbard, Chico O’Farill, Papo Vasquez, Ray Barretto, The Beach Boys, Chico Freeman and Paquito D’Rivera among others but his most noteworthy contribution is to Afro-Cuban jazz and a resurgence in Latin jazz in the 80s and 90s. With seventeen albums as a leader under his belt and a host of recording sessions as a sideman, since 2000, trumpeter Jerry Gonzalez has lived and played in and around jazz clubs in Madrid.
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