Editor’s Pick · Featured Album
Of all of the brass and reed instruments played in music, somehow the trombone can be made to sound most like the human voice. It can be played as if to moan, groan and growl evoking sensuality, feelings and emotions related to sadness, sorrow anger and – when several notes are played in an affecting glissando – even whoops of joy. All this, of course, takes a kind of daring virtuosity that only a few players of the instrument were, and fewer still playing are capable of. Eduardo Sandoval, the last trombonist to play in the ensemble of the legendary Leopoldo “Pucho” Escalante is one of those supremely gifted players who can do all of that by putting the trombone to his lips and blowing his heart out.
Mr Sandoval does just that on Más Trombón Que Nunca, a truly appropriate title for his 2019 album. While this recording puts the formidable virtuosity of Mr Sandoval on display it also has the indelible musical stamp of Alain Pérez, one of the most sought after musicians on both sides of the recording booth in the studio as well as in an ensemble on stage. But Mr Pérez has only crafted this superb album because he had Mr Sandoval to work with. There is also the small matter of a spectacular cast of musicians that include drummer Yissy García, percussionist Adel González, bassist Lino Piquero and guests including trumpeter Reinaldo Melián, vocalist and rapper Telmary Díaz and a battery of percussionists and vocalists including Adonis Panter Calderón, Bárbaro Crespo, Ramón Tamayo, Luis Raydel Díaz and Rubén Bulnes Garcia.
Mr Pérez’s arrangements are also impressive and these include two noteworthy ones: “Dundumbanza” by the legendary Arsenio Rodríguez and “La Muerte del cisne” (the death of the Swan Princess) based on Pyotr Illych Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet Swan Lake. But it is Mr Sandoval, of course, who delivers what the music demands. His masterful exploits, however, begin a lot earlier – with the first dolourous notes of Mr Pérez’s “Pá que preguntas”, a song that kicks off this remarkable album. The song changes dramatically in pace and emotion after these first bars and whips up a storm until the final notes, which are slow and low, and hypnotic in their sadness. This song is followed by “De bahia a bahia” a breathtaking Bahian melody written by Mr Pérez entitled (what else?) “De Bahia a bahia”. Here it is the magic of Mr Sandoval’s trombone that dominates a melody drenched in Bahian “saudade”. Mr Pérez’s acoustic guitar keeps the pulse of the music going too.
Meanwhile “La Bella Cubana” by the superb composer José White may just be the most memorable vehicle for Mr Sandoval’s trombone on this recording. The use of multi-tracking and electronics to create layers of harmonic voices for his trombone is a master-stroke. The song itself that changes from the meditative slowness of a bolero (something eminently suited to the trombone and Mr Sandoval’s use of the instrument) to swing and back to a bolero before changing once again – this time mixing pulses and paces – is quite memorable, it would appear, also the perfect song with which to make way for the Tchaikovsky classic. The penultimate song “Trombón a Orula” by Rubén Bulnes and Mr Sandoval is a terrific homage to (Mr Sandoval’s) direct ancestors, including Antonio Leal (the first trombonist in “Pucho” Escalante’s ensemble), with Mr Bulnes’ chant and rap, and also Mr Pérez’s extraordinary turn on electric bass is another superb chart on this album, as is the short and vivid “Te dije que se iba” which features Telmary Diaz‘s rap along side Mr Sandoval’s trombone.
The recording is full of magical songs like those – end to end, as a matter of fact – and it is this fact that gives it the kind of appeal that it has. Another superb song on the album is the bolero by Juan Formell “Este amor que se muere”. Clearly Mr Formell could celebrate lost love of a woman like few men could. The same is also true of Mr Sandoval, who metamorphoses the voice of his trombone into his human voice as he seems to “sing” the deep emotions of the song to this woman. There are also many effervescent moments on this album and these are instigated by the music – notably Mr Sandoval (again) as he plays off the boundless energy of the percussion – Miss Garcia and Mr González as well as others when they are called upon to play. The invited guests give generously of themselves too. All of this is captured in a superbly recorded album to die for.
Track list – 01: Pá que preguntas; 02: De Bahía a bahía; 03: Este amor que se muere; 04: Dundumbanza; 05: Agradecido; 06: La bella cubana; 07: La muerte del cisne; 08: Nostalgia; 09; Trombón para Orula; 10: Te dije que se iba
Personnel – Eduardo Sandoval: trombone, arrangements (05) and chorus (09, 10); Yusef Díaz: arrangements (06-08); Reinaldo Melián: trumpet (07); Leonardo Gil Melián: piano (01-05, 10); Raúl Venegas: electric guitar (02, 04); Alain Pérez: arrangements (01-04, 07, 09, 10), electric bass (01, 09, 10), acoustic guitar (02), timbal (08) and chorus (09, 10); Lino Piquero: contrebasse (03-08), electric bass (08); Yissy Garcia: drums (01-07, 10); Adel González: tumbadoras (01-07, 10) and percussion (03, 05, 07); Adonis Panter Calderon: arrangements, quinto (09) and chorus (09); Bárbaro Crespo: tumbadora (09); Ramón Tamayo: tumbadora (09, 10); Luis Raydel Díaz: tumbadora (09); Telmary Díaz: vocals (10); Rubén Bulnes Garcia: arrangements, vocals and chorus (09); Carlos de la Vega: engineering; – with – Alejandro Durán and Pablo Collazo Rivas: assistant engineering
Released – 2019
Label – Empresa de Grabaciones y Ediciones Musicales (EGREM Records)
Runtime – 48:59