Picks and Pans Review: For Love or Country

The Arturo Sandoval Story

HBO (Sat., Nov. 18, 9 p.m. ET)

Show of the week

There’s a gorgeous moment early in this TV-movie bio when Sandoval (Andy Garcia), the Cuban jazz trumpeter who defected to the U.S. in 1990, is courting his future wife, Marianela (Mia Maestro). He invites her to meet him at an empty baseball stadium, where, standing on second base and hoping to get at least that far with her, he bleats out a shimmering solo that he titles “Marianela.” Her eyes melt; she’s entranced, and so, at this point, was I. (That’s the Grammy-winning Sandoval on the soundtrack.) The drama mostly examines his political awakening. Banned from playing American jazz—dismissed as “the music of the enemy” by one Communist bureaucrat—Sandoval sees his talent stagnating. But to defect, he’d have to leave a son behind. Garcia fully captures the musician’s anguish, while Charles S. Dutton provides an exuberant riff as Dizzy Gillespie, Sandoval’s mentor and, ultimately, savior.

Bottom Line: Horn of plenty

Terry Kelleher is on temporary leave.

Related Articles