Jazz Legend Sandoval: Music 'Keeps You Alive'

Jazz great Arturo Sandoval received the National Medal of Freedom earlier this week. Guest host Celeste Headlee highlights his music, life and work.

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CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

Now we take a moment to highlight and salute another artist. Jazz-great Arturo Sandoval received the Presidential Medal of Freedom this week from President Obama. Sandoval was born and raised in Cuba, where he was once jailed just for listening to jazz music. So he packed up his trumpet and moved to the United States. A country he says gave him the freedom to fill the air with his music. Here's what the president said about him at the ceremony.

(SOUNDBITE OF CEREMONY)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Today, Arturo is an American citizen and one of the most celebrated trumpet players in the world. There isn't any place on Earth where the people don't know about jazz, he says. And that's true in part because musicians like him have sacrificed so much to play it.

HEADLEE: And play it he did. Here he is playing with jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie on his 1982 tune "Wheatleigh Hall."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHEATLEIGH HALL")

HEADLEE: I had the pleasure of speaking with Arturo Sandoval back in August, and it's clear his love for the art form is as strong as ever.

ARTURO SANDOVAL: Jazz is the most important art form created in this country. We have to carry that legacy and let everybody - younger generation - that this is a beautiful music created in this country. And, you know, the people love and admire and respect jazz immensely.

HEADLEE: Now in the 60s, I asked him if his work is still the secret to happiness. Here's what he said.

SANDOVAL: Yeah, you know what, that keeps you alive in every sense of the word. I can't conceive my life without playing music or writing notes or practicing or singing - do something. I don't know. But to be happy, I have to do something around music.

HEADLEE: Arturo Sandoval, a legend in jazz. He won the Presidential Medal of Freedom earlier this week. And we'll leave you with a tune from his latest album. It's called "Algo Bueno," which means, something good.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALGO BUENO")

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