Author: Arthur Wolak

Arturo Sandoval at the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival

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...

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Chris Botti with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

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...

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A Family Visit to Seattle

Traveling to Seattle is fun for the whole family. With many different neighborhoods from which to choose, why not stay near downtown but without the noise of the major business centers? That’s what we decided to do. With kids, it makes the trip more convenient because you’re still in walking distance to many of Seattle’s most popular attractions. We stayed at the Sorrento Hotel, in Seattle’s historic First Hill neighborhood, just south of the Capitol Hill district.   The Sorrento is an Italian-inspired boutique hotel with just 76 guestrooms and suites, appealing to all sorts of travelers. Business people like it because of its proximity to the Washington State Convention Center. Artists and intellectuals like the location because it’s very close to Seattle University and not far from the University of Washington. And doctors attending conferences find their way to the Sorrento because it’s so close to several local hospitals. But families are travelers to whom the Sorrento also caters. There is free Wi-Fi and the lobby Fireside Room offers afternoon tea while evenings feature “Sorrento Nights” of jazz music and other events. There is a lobby restaurant as well called the “Hunt Club.”  The lobby has a complimentary morning coffee service. We enjoyed the evening jazz concerts (as did our toddler) and left the daytime for exploring Seattle. There is also a well-equipped gym for burning off calories...

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Bellevue for Families

Traveling to Seattle doesn’t have to mean staying in the busy city. Why not stay across Lake Washington in picturesque Bellevue? That’s what we did, with a toddler to boot! We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue, on Seattle’s Eastside. I can’t count the number of times I’ve visited Seattle — including Bellevue — but never stayed in a hotel in the Seattle suburb, which is a city in its own right with a busy downtown core and many amenities to satisfy any traveller, even those with young children along for the trip. A clean, green and sophisticated city, Bellevue lies between Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountain range, yet is close to all popular Seattle attractions, from the Space Needle, the Science Center and Pike Place Market. But Bellevue is a great location to stay because there is a lot to do in Bellevue aside from Seattle. The Hyatt Regency in Bellevue is a child-friendly hotel. It provided our active one-year old son with a comfortable child-friendly bed, complete with a kit full of baby necessities like baby shampoo, baby lotion, baby powder and even a little rubber duckie. Unlike most other hotel playpens, the Hyatt thoughtfully provides a custom-made, appropriately-sized mattress protector for the playpen mattress, so you don’t need to worry about germs from previous children who may have used it. Also, because the mattress protector is fitted to the playpen’s mattress, you don’t need to worry about your child suffocating in bedding that is loose...

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