arturo sandoval

Cuba lost out on one of its greatest jazz talents when Arturo Sandoval defected from the Communist nation to the US while on tour in Spain in 1990. Sandoval has since gone on to receive numerous accolades for his music, including 10 Grammy awards, 6 Billboard Awards, and even an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Music Composition” for the biographical film treatment of his own life (“For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story”). In 2013, Sandoval received the ‘Presidential Medal of Freedom,’ the highest civilian award one can receive in the United States where he resides and has been a proud citizen since 1999.

As a headliner for the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, Sandoval filled the Vogue Theatre to capacity playing rapid-fire licks on the trumpet like few other trumpeters can—though many try to emulate his style and abilities. It’s a tall order because Sandoval is an immense jazz talent, both as a soloist, composer, and band leader, supported by a group of talented musicians from a drummer and double bassist, to pianist, sax player and another percussionist.

Sandoval entertained the crowd with foot-tapping works full of complex rhythms, revealing a great sense of humor in the process as he shifted seamlessly between banter about travel and his personal life with performances on trumpet, keyboards, grand piano, drums, and his own singing voice.

Cuban and Latin rhythms filled the evening in an energetic concert that kept members of the audience on the edge of their seats, with a few slower works to display Sandoval’s skills on the grand piano and to showcase his own vocal stylings. Sandoval’s musical versatility was unmistakable with advanced keyboard ability fused with percussion, trumpet, and vocalization in familiar jazz classics and his own compositions.

Although renowned the world over for his trumpet skill, he humorously revealed his actual preference for the piano and a love/hate relationship with the brass instrument that is his main claim to fame. Despite his love-hate relationship with the trumpet, few can play it as well as Sandoval, who hit notes with rapid-fire precision in all conceivable registers. Combined with the rest of his musical talents (keyboard, percussion, and vocal), Sandoval more than proved why he deserved all of those Grammy Awards and other accolades.

Sandoval closed off the evening with two encores—‘Smile,’  a melody composed by Charlie Chaplin and lyrics added by others years later, and an epic rendition of Dizzy Gillespie’s jazz classic, ‘A Night in Tunisia,’ with samples of what sounded very much like ‘Hava Nagila’ towards the end of the jazz standard composed by his former mentor, proving what hardly needed proving—Sandoval’s seemingly unmatched mastery of the trumpet and the consummate performer’s innate ability to leave an audience wanting more.

While Cuba may have lost a huge talent, the international musical stage—which included the Vogue Theatre on Monday night—ultimately derived the greatest benefit because Sandoval’s ability to entertain is undeniable.


Vancouver Folk Music Festival July 18-20

by Richard Wolak on June 14, 2014


The 37th Annual Vancouver Folk Music Festival gets underway mid-July, starting off on Friday evening with musicians performing from all over the world thru Sunday night. This is one of my favourite music festivals, I have attended 31 festivals over the years! Each year, as much as I look forward to the music I also look forward to the food.

Over 60 artists and groups from 12 different countries, 7 provinces and 12 states, with roots in many more, will gather in beautiful Pacific beach-front Jericho Beach Park for three evenings and two full days of concerts and workshops. The festival runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, as well as all day Saturday and Sunday, with multiple daytime stages, early evening and Main concert stages. There’s a world of music coming to our own backyard. See the full 2014 roster of artists below.

Performing for the first time at the VFMF is legendary folksinger, Joan Baez, who will take the Main Stage on Saturday night. She’s joined on the roster by the indie-folk voices of Andrew Bird and the Hands of GloryAmos LeeGreat Lake SwimmersWintersleepBorn Ruffians and others.

For fans of the music of our world, there’s Seun Kuti playing with his father Fela’s band, Egypt 80, Mauritania’s Noura Mint SeymaliLa Manta from Mexico, Mozambique’s Banda Kakana,  Dulsori from Korea, Italy’s Beppe Gambetta andRiccardo Tesi & Banditaliana, Australia’s wild Wagons, and Scotland’s Karine Polwart.

Toronto’s party-punks, the Lemon Bucket Orkestra will be performing, along with a number of Americana-roots firebrands like The Howlin’ Brothers, and Ashleigh Flynn & the Back Porch Majority. The festival welcomes renowned singer-songwriters like Eliza Gilkyson, Rose Cousins and sizzling new voice Mary Lambert.

Indigenous voices are featured, including Australia’s Frank Yamma, and Canadians the Iskwew Singers and Leonard Sumner. There are young BC bands, like Fish & Bird, veterans like Oliver Swain’s BIG MACHINE, all alongside recently-“discovered” 82 year-old Mississippi gospel-bluesman, Leo “Bud” Welch.

Since the initial release of names, we are also happy to announce two recent additions to the lineup: the powerhouse a cappella gospel voices of Como, Mississippi’s The Como Mamas, and from Australia, the King of Koori Country, Roger Knox with Jon Langford and Jean Cook.

2014 FESTIVAL ARTISTS (alpha order)

Joan Baez (CA)

Banda Kakana (Mozambique)

Andrew Bird and the Hands of Glory (IL)

Born Ruffians (ON)

Brasstronaut (BC)

David Bridie (Australia)

The Carper Family (TX)

The Como Mamas (MS)

Rose Cousins (NS)

The Casey Driessen Singularity (TN)

Dulsori (Korea)

Quique Escamilla (ON)

Alejandro Escovedo and the Sensitive Boys (TX)

Fish and Bird (BC)

Flying Mountain (BC/NL)

Ashleigh Flynn & the Back Porch Majority (OR)

Beppe Gambetta (Italy)

Geomungo Factory (Korea)

Eliza Gilkyson (TX)

Great Lake Swimmers (ON)

Grievous Angels (ON)

James Hill (NS)

The Honeycutters (NC)

The Howlin’ Brothers (TN)

Iskwew Singers (BC/SK)

Stephen Kellogg (CT)

Roger Knox (Australia) with Jon Langford and Jean Cook

Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 (Nigeria)

Mary Lambert (WA)

Amos Lee (PA)

Lemon Bucket Orkestra (ON)

Lost Bayou Ramblers (LA)

Jay Malinowski & The Deadcoast (BC)

La Manta (Mexico)

Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar (ON)

Tift Merritt (NY)

Mokoomba (Zimbabwe)

Leo Moran and Anthony Thistlethwaite (Ireland)

The Nautical Miles (BC)

Oh My Darling (MB)

Ozomatli (CA)

Pacifika (BC)

Karine Polwart (Scotland)

Alejandra Ribera (ON)

Jenny Ritter (BC)

David Rovics (OR)

Noura Mint Seymali (Mauritania)

Langhorne Slim & the Law (TN)

Leonard Sumner (MB)

Oliver Swain’s BIG MACHINE (BC)

Riccardo Tesi & Banditaliana (Italy)

Les Tireux d’Roches (QC)

Typhoon (OR)

Foy Vance (Ireland)

Tamar Ilana & Ventanas (ON)

Suzie Vinnick (ON)

Wagons (Australia)

Leo “Bud” Welch (MS)

Josh White Jr. (MI)

Wintersleep (NS)

Frank Yamma (Australia)

The names above represent just the incredible list of talent that will grace the stages over festival weekend.

Festival Hours

Friday, July 18: 5-11pm

Saturday, July 19: 10am-11pm

Sunday, July 20: 10am-11pm

Summary Ticket Information

Adult weekend pass: from $140 (to June 14) to $170 (at gate), with one day tickets available, & discounts for Students, Youth & Elders. Children 12 and under are free w/ adult.

Early Bird discounts are available to June 14.

Full information & to purchase tickets:


Chris Botti with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

by Arthur Wolak on June 12, 2014


Renowned trumpeter and Grammy Award winning instrumentalist, Chris Botti graced the Orpheum stage tonight in a performance that had everyone on their feet during both ends of the intermission.

Together with his talented core ensemble—a pianist, drummer, guitarist, and bass player—backed up by the skilled performers from the VSO, conducted by VSO Assistant Conductor Gordon Gerrard, along with three special guests—virtuoso violinist Caroline Campbell, and female vocalist Sy Smith, and male vocalist George Komsky—Botti performed a variety of selections from a vast repertoire consisting primarily of jazz classics and mellow smooth jazz favorites.

Botti performed several classic Miles Davis’ arrangements, among others, to a full house of enthusiastic jazz fans. Botti allowed each member of his ensemble—and his three special guests—to shine during generous solos, giving the headline trumpet player the occasional break at the same time as providing value-added entertainment for the audience who clearly came to hear a diverse concert with talented performers, foot-tapping rhythms, and familiar melodies. They got what they came to hear.

Botti more than lived up to his reputation as both a fine jazz trumpeter and generous presenter of fellow talented musicians whom he brought along with him. Smith’s vocals nearly stole the show, but Campbell’s violin skills also entranced the audience. Komsky stood out during his performance of “Italia,” an original song composed by Botti and British Columbia-native, the preeminent Hollywood musical producer, David Foster, in a solo intended for Andrea Bocelli.

But despite the diversity, there is no question Botti remained in control of the entire evening’s musical content in a well-crafted, audience-pleasing performance that left everyone happy at the end.


The 29th annual TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival begins on June 20 and takes place in multiple venues all over the city. There are so many amazing musicians performing through-out the festival. From free shows downtown opening weekend to more shows on Granville Island and in David Lam Park during closing weekend. There are also many paid shows worth checking out and here is my picks list.

June 20 Medeski Sco­eld Martin & Wood –Vogue Theatre

June 21 Hiromi: The Trio Project – Vogue Theatre

June 22 Bobby McFerrin – Orpheum Theatre

June 23 Arturo Sandoval –Vogue Theatre

June 24 Jill Barber –Vogue Theatre

June 29 Cassandra Wilson –Vogue Theatre

Check out the full line-up of this years TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival.


Chris Botti with the VSO on June 11

by Richard Wolak Music

Tweet One of the world’s most famous instrumentalists makes a much anticipated return to the VSO stage for a special concert on Wednesday, June 11.  Famed smooth Jazz trumpeter and multi- Grammy® winning trumpeter, Chris Botti, joins the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and Assistant Conductor Gordon Gerrard, for an evening of famous Jazz standards as well […]

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VSO’s first annual Spring Festival Wowed Audiences

by Richard Wolak Music

Tweet The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra presented their first annual Spring Festival this past April which packed the concert hall for each of their concerts. This inaugural Festival celebrated the works of Sergei Rachmaninoff with sensational pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk and Maestro Bramwell Tovey. Alexander Gavrylyuk performed all five of Rachmaninoff’s works for piano and orchestra, the […]

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Kim’s Convenience a Winner on the Granville Island Stage

by Richard Wolak Theatre

Tweet During their run in Vancouver, this was a play that I enjoyed immensely, Mr. Kim, performed by, (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee), the Korean owner of a convenience store in Toronto’s Regent Park area, grappled with both a changing neighbourhood landscape and the chasm between him and his second-generation offspring. This journey of a fractured but […]

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FUSE on April 25 at Vancouver Art Gallery

by Richard Wolak Art

Tweet The next FUSE night takes on expansive beauty and terrible realities coalesce at the Vancouver Art Gallery.  Named the Best Art Party in Vancouver, FUSE offers one-of-a-kind experimental art, cutting edge new music and innovative live performances. Inspired by the striking photography in Edward Burtynsky’s exhibition A Terrible Beauty, guest curator Veda Hille orchestrates a […]

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Ballet BC Presents UN/A April 24 – 26

by Richard Wolak Dance

Tweet UN/A, Ballet BC’s final production of the 2013/14 season at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre from April 24-26, 2014, features three remarkable World Premieres by gifted international choreographers. “Gioconda, Cayetano and Gustavo are three innovative choreographers, who promise exhilarating works that will captivate our audiences,” says Ballet BC’s Artistic Director Emily Molnar. “They all have had […]

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Lowest Common Denominator thru March 30

by Richard Wolak Theatre

Tweet With standout performances, this new play by  Zee Zee Theatre explores the world of inter-generational relationships and unleashes the darkness that exists just underneath a thin skin. It was a coming out story of such by Trevor (Dallas Sauer) as a slip of the tongue telling his mother Harmony (Deborah Williams), the story moved on […]

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