Playing the trumpet traumatized me. When I was 10, someone amidst the annually gathered assortment of aunts, uncles, and cousins asked me which instrument I wanted to learn. Most everyone on my father's side of the family plays something, and it was time for me to choose. I pointed at the wall and said, "Trumpet." Being in the business of renting musical instruments to middle- and high-school students, my grandfather plucked a trumpet off the wall and handed it to me.

I see the scene only dimly now, but I still can feel the farting squeals and borborygmic bleating from the trumpet buzzing against my lips--and the uproarious laughter of everyone assembled. Do other music writers blame their attraction to specific instruments on a transforming (or traumatic) experience?

That day I left without a trumpet. By giving up too soon, I had failed an important test. Yet my admiration for trumpeters increased mightily. After infatuations with Chuck Mangione and Maynard Ferguson (ah, the tackiness of pre-adolescent taste!), I eventually graduated to Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and then Kenny Dorham, Axel Dörner, Greg Kelley, Don Ellis, and Arturo Sandoval.

A protégé of Dizzy Gillespie, the Cuban-born Sandoval first attracted attention in the late 1970s with his superb, sky-punching stratospheric solos for Irakere, a Latin jazz group that combined the horn-driven funk of Earth, Wind & Fire with the ambitious arrangements of Weather Report. Today, Sandoval still squalls out the high notes and smolders on ballads and mid-tempo numbers. Don't miss this master trumpeter. CHRISTOPHER DeLAURENTI

Arturo Sandoval and his quintet perform Thurs July 22 through Sun July 25. Sets start at 8 pm and 10:15 pm, except for Sun when sets start at 6:30 pm and 8:45 pm (Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave, 441-9729), $22.50/$24.50.

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