JazzMonthly: That was great. Now what made that happen? Andy was the executive producer too, wasn’t he?
AS: Yeah, he got involved. In the beginning it was HBO, you know, HBO came up with the idea and they made it. They produced the movie and did everything. But when they hired Andy to play me, he got involved and he embraced the idea and then he more and more got involved, you know.
Jazz Monthly: One of the greatest lines… I was watching the movie with my wife and I’m paraphrasing, I’m not saying it exactly… but when Charlie Dutton who played Dizzy was with you and you weren’t sure you could go on tour with Dizzy, and Dizzy’s response was something like “Arturo, your sound doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to the world.” What a great line!
AS: It’s a good line, that’s one of the lines in the movie, yes.
Jazz Monthly: Yes, and I was really touched by that. I was looking at my wife and we both kind of got filled up in our eyes when that line came out. That really is your story, isn’t it, do you feel that?
AS: Oh, no it is, it’s not fiction, it’s not like an invented story, it’s based on the reality, you know, the real story.
Jazz Monthly: I know that you and Marianela spent a lot of time on the set of the movie. Now tell us Arturo, (Laughing) was it kind of weird or kind of strange seeing people playing you?
AS: (Laughing) You know, we are not prepared for that; we never will be, you know… but it’s a privilege… an honor to have such a beautiful tribute, and most of the time when they do that, they wait until people pass away.
Jazz Monthly: That’s right, let’s do it when you’re still alive and still very vital.
AS: I always say whatever you want to give to me; please give me it now before I pass away. (Both laughing)
Jazz Monthly: When you and Marianela were watching it, the rehearsal, not the finished movie, did you say, “That’s how I would have said that,” or that’s NOT how Marianela would have said it…
AS: We were all the time, there, trying to help and do whatever we could do to make it authentic, I was hired to do that, as a consultant, to be sure that everything that was said or done was according to reality.
Jazz Monthly: I mentioned that you played at the White House, now Arturo when you look back, there you were an eleven year old, twelve year old, from Cuba and now here you are playing at the White House, how did that feel?
AS: You know… dreams are free… you know we always dream. What is going to happen is in the hands of God. The only thing you should do is: try as good as you can to do what you have to, be serious about your profession, and study, and practice, and concentrate on what you’re doing, and don’t get involved in weird, strange things… and if you do all of those things, maybe God will come help you.
Jazz Monthly: I know that you are a very spiritual man and God has certainly helped you.
What is on the horizon? What’s some of your latest projects? What is Arturo Sandoval up to?
AS: I’m going to be in the studio pretty soon, by the end of this month, doing a new project, a new CD which is going to be very soft and intimate… ballads and a little bit of Classical pieces too – something very nice and… very romantic music.
Jazz Monthly: Yes, you know, I saw you in New York at the Iridium a while back and you were playing, and of course it was your gig and there were some singers guesting. The one thing I noticed Arturo, again is when you were backing up a singer you played so beautifully with a mute, you laid back, now you could have “killed” that song if you wanted to, you could have overpowered, and yet you played so musically and so tastefully. Does that come with maturity?
AS: I think so, yes I mean sometime in the past, many years ago, especially when I was living in Cuba I didn’t have too many opportunities and then when I had a chance, once in a while, you only get to play your music in eight bars. You didn’t have the chance to play in eighty million bars and that’s rough. You have only eight bars to play.
When you really don’t have to demonstrate anything, when you don’t have to prove anything… you think differently. Of course you play differently and you make the thing more musical. You have to realize it’s only a matter of circumstance. When I was in Cuba I didn’t have so many chances to really think about oh, I’ve got to back up here now, I’ve got to put the mute, I’ve got to do this very soft, because I’ve got one thing, one chance in years, to play eight bars. (Laughing)
Jazz Monthly: So you had to throw your whole life into those eight bars! (Both laughing)
AS: Yeah, and some people sometimes make a wrong judgment you know. Because, you have to think about where that guy was at that moment. What was his life or his reality at that specific moment? Then, if you put yourself, in context in that moment, then maybe you can make a better judgment.
Jazz Monthly: That’s well said Arturo.
You were granted political asylum back many years ago and I know that you have become a citizen of the United States, a very proud citizen, I might say for ten years now. And so that leads me to… I saw you on TV at the Orange Bowl… I think you know what I’m going to say now. You played the national anthem at the Orange Bowl just this past January, and you know Arturo, getting back to playing taste – you played the National Anthem at the Orange Bowl with such great respect and reverence. You played it so beautifully, and that’s not an easy tune to play is it?
AS: Especially, you know, I’m going to tell you something that happened that night. It was a kind of a windy and a little chilly… a little cold in the stadium and I was in the dugout you know where the players. I told the coordinator, I’m going to try to be here until the last minute because I don’t want the wind to get my chops too dry you know, and they said okay we’re going to give you a sign when you should come here to play; I said okay. Then, like a minute before it’s time to play, a guy from television… because I was live on FOX television… he came over to me and said “Just for your information there’s about thirty, almost forty million people watching you now.” (Both laughing) I said, “Oh, thank you so much for that information, and then they called me and said, “Hey, it’s time now.”