Grammy award-winning musician Arturo Sandoval visits Moorpark College


Arturo Sandoval answers questions from the audience during his master class at Moorpark College on Oct. 15, 2021. Photo credit: Shahbano Raza

By Shahbano Raza

Moorpark College hosted Grammy award-winning musician Arturo Sandoval in its Latinx month finale, where Sandoval taught a master class in the Performing Arts Center and gave a lecture that was broadcasted over Zoom.

Tamarra Coleman, the diversity, equity and inclusion coordinator on campus, commenced the master class with remarks about Sandoval’s impressive credentials.

“(Sandoval) is a 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient, 2016 Honorary Doctorate Recipient in Fine Arts from the University of Notre Dame, ten-time Grammy award-winner, Emmy-award recipient, six-time Billboard Award-winner and 2015 Hispanic Heritage Award recipient,” Coleman explained with high praise.

After listing Sandoval’s accolades, Coleman read out loud Sandoval’s journey as a Cuban immigrant and as the apprentice of jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie.

Sandoval began the master class by serenading audience members with an improvised piece on the piano. Sandoval later played the trumpet, and in between classical renditions from the works of renowned jazz artists such as Chet Baker and Clifford Brown, Sandoval discussed life stories and music tips.

Arturo Sandoval plays the trumpet during his master class at Moorpark College on Oct. 15, 2021. Photo credit: Shahbano Raza

To the musicians in the audience of the master class and lecture, Sandoval stressed the importance of being familiar with chord changes, practicing in all twelve keys and, most importantly, creating the right sound.

“Cultivate a good quality of sound,” Sandoval advised. “That is going to be your voice, your identity.”

Sandoval also took the time to address dislike for the term “Latin Jazz.” Sandoval associates the term “Latin” with ancient Rome and therefore believes it does not accurately encompass the cultural influences and origins of what he performs. Sandoval asserted that the proper term for the genre of his music is “Afro-Cuban Jazz.”

Ventura College music major and jazz vocalist Alma Valenciano attended Sandoval’s master class and had the opportunity to scat on stage with the Grammy award-winner.

“It was really a wonderful opportunity,” Valenciano said. “I’m Latina, so from that angle, I really enjoyed it.”

Valenciano went on to voice the desire for more representation of Afro-Cuban Jazz music.

“I wish there was a greater focus on Afro-Cuban Jazz, overall,” Valenciano said. “A lot of contributions to world music have come from Latin America.”

Dr. Nathan Bowen, Performing Arts department chair and Honors Program coordinator at Moorpark College, attended the master class and highlighted Sandoval’s advice to do what one loves.

“(Sandoval) is living proof that when you choose what you want to do and invest and focus in doing that, then great things can happen,” Bowen said. “I’m hoping that we can tell what he was saying to students here for years to come.”

The lecture portion of the Latinx finale was similar to the master class in that Sandoval played some tunes on the trumpet and shared stories in between musical demonstrations. At the beginning of the lecture, Sandoval played the tune “God Bless America.”

“I love this country with all my heart,” Sandoval professed. “I am 72 years old, and I’ve lived in this country for 32 years. I got the impression that I was born 32 years ago.”

Throughout the lecture, audience members, as well as those attending over Zoom, had the chance to ask Sandoval questions about anything ranging from the musician’s daily music routine to advice on how to avoid burnouts when practicing an instrument for extended periods of time.

Coleman also asked Sandoval questions. Most notably, Coleman asked Sandoval about the musician’s decided legacy.

“I want to be remembered as a person who loved life, loved my family very much, loved my friends, my fans and loved music,” Sandoval answered.

Although Sandoval addressed Latinx Heritage Month and the specifics of music with gravitas, the overall mood of the event was light-hearted as Sandoval’s jokes about the nature of the trumpet and anecdotes about marriage had the audience laughing.

A recurring theme in both Sandoval’s masterclass and lecture was gratification.

“I am just absolutely grateful that I chose music as my profession,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval encouraged those interested in music to follow his Instagram for free lessons and tutorials.