Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu
Arturo Sandoval was wearing an untucked black t-shirt and loose-fitting black pants as he worked over the timbale with an Allen wrench, occasionally hitting the instrument with a drum stick to see if the sound and tightness was anywhere near what he wanted; when it wasn’t, he went right back to work with the wrench, looking for all the world like a guy in a garage on a Saturday afternoon. The trouble was that it was Friday night, he was on the Mainstage at Proctors, his quintet was in full-tilt Latin Jazz mode, and his pianist Kemuel Roig was halfway through a pretty hot solo.
As it turned out, Sandoval’s drummer Alexis Arce usually tightens Sandoval’s timbale after the band finishes their sound-check… except there had been no sound-check that afternoon, because Arce developed chest pains on the way to the gig, and was currently under observation at a local hospital. Nate Coyne was truly a local hero when he subbed for Arce at the last minute. “We’re gonna do our regular show,” Sandoval told us after admitting he’d just learned his new drummer’s name. “Nate, you play what you can…”
Coyne smiled back at his new leader as the crowd laughed, but you knew the drummer (who’d subbed for Joe Barna while he was recovering from carpal-tunnel syndrome) had to be thinking, “Holy shit! This is REALLY HAPPENING!” Happily, Coyne caught everything Sandoval threw at him over the 90-minute set, and bassist Dennis Marks kept Coyne filled with information as Sandoval knocked us all out with a mix of Latin standards and jazz classics either recorded or inspired by his beloved mentor, the late John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie. “We owe him a lot of respect,” Sandoval told us before performing the title track from his new Concord release Dear Diz (Every Day I Think of You).