Days With Dizzy: Arturo Sandoval On His Trumpet Mentor

Arturo Sandoval and Dizzy Gillespie on tour in Europe in 1991. Sandoval's new album, Dear Diz (Every Day I Think of You), is a tribute to his friend and mentor.

hide captionArturo Sandoval and Dizzy Gillespie on tour in Europe in 1991. Sandoval's new album, Dear Diz (Every Day I Think of You), is a tribute to his friend and mentor.

Courtesy of the artist

Hear The Music

close

Purchase Featured Music

  • "Things To Come"
  • Album: Dear Diz (Every Day I Think of You)
  • Artist: Arturo Sandoval
  • Label: Concord Jazz
  • Released: 2012
 
close

Purchase Featured Music

  • "Tin Tin Deo"
  • Album: Dear Diz (Every Day I Think of You)
  • Artist: Arturo Sandoval
  • Label: Concord Jazz
  • Released: 2012
 

Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sandoval first met Dizzy Gillespie in Havana in 1977, when the American jazzman came to Cuba to play a concert. Sandoval showed him around the city, where the two men listened to the sounds of rumba music echoing through Havana's black neighborhoods. That night, Sandoval managed to play his trumpet for Gillespie — and blew him away.

"I knew a bunch of his lines, his phrasing and things," Sandoval says. "He was laughing and laughing because he was so surprised. He saw me as his driver, the guy who was showing him the city — and not only was I a musician, I was a trumpet player. I'd never told him in the whole day we spent together."

It was the start of a friendship that lasted until Gillespie's death in 1993. Sandoval says Gillespie was instrumental in helping him and his family defect to the U.S. (He became an American citizen in 1999.)

"I always considered that a gift from God — to be able to meet and become a close friend of your hero," Sandoval says. "He had such a great time every time he got an opportunity to play — to perform for people, or talk about music with you, and sit down at the piano and try to put some chords and things together. He enjoyed every second of it."

Sandoval's latest album, Dear Diz (Every Day I Think of You), pays tribute to Gillespie as a mentor and friend. He discusses the record — and tells the story of their first contact in Havana — with NPR's Guy Raz.

Purchase Featured Music

Dear Diz (Every Day I Think of You)

Purchase Music

close

Purchase Featured Music

  • Album: Dear Diz (Every Day I Think of You)
  • Artist: Arturo Sandoval
  • Label: Concord Jazz
  • Released: 2012
 

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.