There's something about Cuban music that makes you wonder, whenever you listen to it, why it is that you spend so much of your life doing things other than listening to it. And the same goes for the great Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sandoval
-- whenever you hear him do something other than play Cuban music, you wonder why on Earth he's doing whatever that other thing is. On his latest album (named after a nightclub he owns in Miami), he gratefully spends most of his time focusing on what he and his band do best: huge horn arrangements, courtesy of Felipe Lamoglia
, that not only amaze you with their complexity but also tickle your fancy with their melodic sweetness; richly multi-layered Cuban rhythms; call-and-response vocals; and an irrepressibly joyful ambience. Sandoval
is equally impressive as a singer and a trumpeter, and the mix of vocal and instrumental numbers is one of the most enjoyable aspects of this fine album. Things only bog down when they start wearing their sophistication and complexity too heavily: "Having Fun" feels more abstract and musicianly than musical, and "21st Century" sounds like a tone poem trying too hard to evoke a mood rather than a piece of music enjoyable for its own sake. Overall, though, this album is a joy and a pleasure.