Trumpet player Arturo Sandoval remembers Willis Conover (and more VOA jazz).

Posted: 25 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"A graduate of the Cuban National School of the Arts in Havana, [Arturo] Sandoval was already among his country’s leading young orchestral musicians when he was introduced to jazz by a trumpet-playing journalist friend. 'One day he asked me: "Have you ever heard any jazz music?" I said, "No, what is that?" He said, "Come with me," and he played me a record by Charlie Parker and Dizzy. That was it, that was my initiation,' Sandoval said. 'I thought, "Wow, that’s the music. I want to learn to play like that." I’ve been trying to learn ever since. And I never missed Willis Conover’s ?show on Voice of America, which I heard on shortwave radio in Cuba. I listened to that program, "Music USA," every single day. That was my only way to become aware of what was going on in jazz and to learn and listen to different bands.'" George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 21 February 2010.
     "Truly a melding of classical repertoire with jazz, Time For Love is a major departure for Sandoval, yet immediately familiar in its timeless ballads. 'The song selection process was something that I'd begun when I was a kid back in Cuba,' says the artist, referring to how while growing up he would surreptitiously listen to the officially banned Voice of America radio broadcasts." Press release via JazzCorner, 25 February 2010.
     Saxophonist Krzysztof Medyna: "Records were not available in Communist Poland, and all of my generation would listen to Voice of America, to Willis Conover's Jazz Hour, which was famous across the Communist Bloc." Pianist Andrzej Winnicki: "At that time, there was a magazine called American published in Polish, by the American State Department, I think. It's strange to think that it was published in Poland, but it was a very glossy magazine and so popular that you had to have connections with the places where it was sold to have a chance of getting one. My father would buy it, and it would often come with a flexi-disc [a cheap, flexible, vinyl record with music on only one side]. The first jazz I ever heard, and it had a great effect on me, was Miles Davis' recording of 'My Funny Valentine' on one of these discs. It was so glorious; I just fell in love." Bruce Lindsay, All About Jazz, 23 February 2010.
     In 1960: "Willis [Conover], Newport Jazz Festival emcee and radio host for Voice of America in Europe, then closes the proceedings [an afternoon blues lecture/demonstration] on a somber note, announcing that the board of directions of the Newport Jazz Festival had voted to accept the decision of the city council of Newport to suspend activities of the Newport Jazz Festival, beginning with the evening concert on July 3. 'In other words, there will be no concert tonight or…again,' he told the stunned audience." Melodika.net, 23 February 2010. "Music at Newport" replaced the Newport Jazz Festival in 1961, then Newport Jazz Festival resumed in 1962.