Monica Mancini and Arturo Sandoval: Great Show on the Stage
By Glen Creason
It was a beautiful, crisp late winter’s night and the Performing Arts stage was filled with fine musicians and beautiful people. Dazzling was an appropriate adjective to describe the spectacle of the Monica Mancini with Arturo Sandoval and his big band as a Cerritos concert spectacular. Around three dozen participants worked to make the evening a memorable one and they succeeded individually and as a team. Classy Monica Mancini sang truly great songs, Sandoval hit the high trumpet notes and his big band was every note of big on this night. The only sour notes came from the drunken clowns in my row that seemed to think the show was a time for their inebriated shouting “conversations,” inappropriate interruptions of the artists, off-key accompaniments and constant trips to the lobby for more foolishness fuel. When the chief idiot shouted a marriage proposal to the elegant Ms. Mancini with her husband ten feet behind her on the drums it was enough to drive this reviewer to high ground. An old friend used to say when encountering such bores: “there are more horse’s asses than there are horses.”
Arturo Sandoval showed great charm and an amazing musical repertoire that included extended jams of stuff from all over the map and musical genre. He began with a not in the least corny “America the Beautiful” that saluted his adopted country with sincere affection and trumpet power that reached not only the back rows to maybe parts of Orange County. Arturo made fun of his imperfect Cuban-English but as one wise wag said he is fluent in four musical languages. The rocket-fueled Latin Jazz “Apertura” got the audience glowing with energy and as was the case all night, allowed the big band to really stretch their musical muscles. I mean, when you have three drum solos from three percussion posts you are giving the band some room to move. To tell the truth, on this night despite the big name headliners it was the big band that kind of stole the show. They put a lot of passion into all of the music and made the hall throb in time with the music. “Salt Peanuts,” a Sandoval favorite did Dizzy Gillespie proud and when gorgeous Becky Martin gave voice to “Sway” and “A Night in Tunisia
” Arturo was speaking pure jazz. His marathon piano reading of the electrifying “Surena” rose temperatures once more and the duet with Ms. Mancini of Charley Chaplin’s “Smile” was just a nice finale in a strong night of big music.
The show was opened by the very polished Monica Mancini who sings with authority and respect for the very greatest tunes in the American songbook. Of course, she chose many of her father’s classic songs including “Moment to Moment,” with a sinus-clearing trumpet solo by Sandoval, “It Had Better Be Tonight” from “the Pink Panther,” the exquisite“Charade,” and the lesser known but just as wonderful “Two for the Road.” With the excellent big band platform she seemed to relax and focus on making the songs sound as they were written by Johnny Mercer, her father and the optimistic “Accentuate the Positive” with its Harold Arlen lineage. Of course her fans came to hear Mancini on Mancini and with “the Days of Wine and Roses” and the silky smooth “Moon River
” she made magic. Even after leaving the stage the big band reminded everybody in the hall that “Peter Gunn” is one of the baddest (in the best sense) tunes ever written.