Reunion was the first time that Paquito D'Rivera and trumpeter Arturo Sandoval recorded together since D'Rivera's defection in 1980; Sandoval had recently left Cuba himself. The co-leaders are joined by a superb band: pianist Danilo Perez, acoustic guitarist Fareed Haque, bassist David Finck, drummer Mark Walker, and Giovanni Hidalgo on conga. The group mostly performs originals plus a couple Chucho Valdes songs, "Body and Soul" (a showcase for Sandoval) and Dizzy Gillespie's "Tanga." Plenty of fireworks occur on this consistently heated Afro-Cuban jazz set and the co-leaders clearly inspire each other. When will they have their next reunion?
Paquito D'Rivera: Cuba-born and New York-based saxophonist and clarinet player, Paquito D'Rivera has balanced a career in Latin jazz with commissions as a classical composer and appearances with symphony orchestras. Classical New Jersey wrote, "whether playing Bach or post-bop, D'Rivera's mastery of the instruments and their expressive capabilities is unquestionable". In 1965, D'Rivera became a featured soloist with the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. After playing the Cuban Army Band, D'Rivera joined with pianist Chucho Valdez to found the Orchestra Cubana de Musica Moderna. D'Rivera served as the band's conductor for two years. In 1973, D'Rivera joined with eight members of the Orchestra Cubana de Musica Moderna to form a band, Irakere. The group, which fused jazz, rock, classical and traditional Cuban music, became the first post-Castro Cuban group to sign with an American record label. In 1981, D'Rivera defected from Cuba and moved to the United States. Before long, he was playing with such American musicians as Dizzy Gillespie, David Amram and Mario Bauza. According to Bauza, D'Rivera is "the only musician I know on the scene playing the real Latin jazz, all others are playing Afro-Cuban jazz". In 1988, D'Rivera was invited to become a charter member of Gillespie's fifteen-piece all-star group, the United Nations Orchestra. In 1997, D'Rivera's album, Portraits of Cuba, received a Grammy award as "Best Latin Jazz Performance." D'Rivera is artist-in-residence for the New Jersey Performing Arts Commission and artistic director in charge of jazz programming for the New Jersey Chamber Music Society.
Arturo Sandoval: A blazing, technically flawless trumpeter from Cuba, Arturo Sandoval has been dazzling audiences all over the world with his supercharged tone and bop-flavored flurries way up in the trumpet's highest register. In slower numbers, he sports a golden, mellow tone on the flugelhorn, marked with a sure, subtle sense of swing. Apparently he is capable of playing anything, proving it more than once by tackling classical repertoire as well as jazz in the same concert, and he has enough curiosity to search far beyond his Cubop base for repertory.Early in the 1970s, he became one of the founding members of the Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna, which by 1973 had evolved into the Afro-Cuban, rock-influenced band Irakere. Sandoval met his idol Dizzy Gillespie in 1977, who promptly became a mentor and colleague, playing with Sandoval in concerts in Europe and Cuba and later featuring him in the United Nation Orchestra. In July 1990 during a long European tour, he defected at the American Embassy in Rome, settling in Florida. Arturo's Life story has been made into a movie starring Andy garcia as Arturo, Sandoval played all the music in the soundtrack.