Written by Suanshu Khurana |Published: November 29, 2019 6:10:54 am
Music in the Time of War
Trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, then in his 20s, serving in the Cuban military, would tune into shortwave radio, as Willis Conover’s politics-free broadcasts came on the famed Voice of America Jazz Hour.
In the ’60s, when the war of ideologies between American capitalism and Cuban communist revolution supported by the Soviet Union was at its peak, Fidel Castro, the then Prime Minister of Cuba declared American music as “music of the enemy”, and banned it. However, the 145 km schism between the borders was inapplicable when the radio waves crossed sides. Trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, then in his 20s, serving in the Cuban military, would tune into shortwave radio, as Willis Conover’s politics-free broadcasts came on the famed Voice of America Jazz Hour. With no knowledge of English, he heard the music, and would wait for American jazz trumpeter virtuoso Dizzy Gillespie’s name to be announced alongside iconic trumpeter Clifford Brown and legendary saxophonist Charlie Parker. Gillespie’s world was far away from that of regular traditional and swing bands. His musicianship and extrovert chord progressions had Sandoval hooked. Soon enough he was caught listening to the “banned music” and put in jail. But it didn’t deter Sandoval. Years later, when he found out that Gillespie would be in Havana, he waited outside the ship hoping to meet his hero. “Meeting Dizzy changed my life,” says 70-year-old Sandoval, in an email interview.
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