Salsa Dura
Sunday, 15 August 2008 @ 7.30 pm • Van Dusen Botanical Garden

Sal Ferreras, Director

Performers: Toto Berriel, lead vocalist; Anna Baignoche, solo vocalist and back up vocalist; Elaine Shepherd, backup vocalist; Guest guitarist, Celso Machado; Guest piano soloist Ernan Lopez-Nussa; Lou Mastroianni, piano; Al Johnston, bass; Jack Duncan, congas; Rafael Geronimo, timbales; Gilberto Moreaux, drums; Vince Mai and John Korsrud, trumpet and flugelhorn; Miguelito Valdes, trumpet soloist; Malcolm Aiken, trumpet and arranger; Rod Murray, trombone soloist; and Ellen Marple, trombone

Songs: Rhythm of our World, Arturo Sandoval; Che Che Cole, Willie Colon; Alma Llanera, Arr. Paquito de Rivera; Anacaona, Cheo Feliciano; Sufoco; Arinanara, Chano Pozo; Closely Dancing, Arturo Sandoval; Cuembe, J. Cepeda; Dinga Dunga Dongo, Ernan Lopez Nussa; El Rey de la Puntualidad; La Olla

Reviewer Ed Farolan

Rain greeted us in this last outdoor performance of Festival Vancouver, the longest concert (almost 2.5 hours), but it didn't hinder any of us enjoying the hot, dancing, sizzling music of Salsa Dura. In the earlier free concerts of Tanga and Goma Dura in the first week of the festival, the audience danced to the music in the hot noon sun. Here, we danced to the salsa in this muggy, wet evening weather. In fact, in the last number, La Olla, lead vocalist Toto Berriel asked us to stand up and dance, and we did, young and old, abled and disabled, dancing to the salsa music.

Directed by Sal Ferreras, who is Dean of Music at Vancouver Community College, and who also played the vibraphone, this last Festival Vancouver concert proved what it stood for: "Music of the Americas". The music was Latin American, and the performers were both South and North Americans: Guest guitarist Celso Machado, Brazilian; Guest piano soloist Ernan Lopez-Nussa, and lead vocalist Toto Berriel, Cubans; Sal Ferreras, Puerto Rican; and most of the musicians, Canadians..

The song lineup was great. I particularly enjoyed Sandoval's compositon, "Closely Dancing", which was a break from the fast-paced salsa pieces. Trumpet soloist Miguelito Valdez did a beautiful and romantic rendition of this piece. When Ferreras introduced this number, he said Latin music also has slow rhythms for slow dancing. And he made special mention of his wife who was sitting in the audience. I also enjoyed Anna Baignoche's rendition of the bossa nova accompanied by Celso Machado.

Speaking of Celso Machado, wow, what a versatile musician this man is! He opened the concert and did a 30-minute rendition of Brazilian, as well as indigenous South American music, using any instrument he had on hand, including a water bottle for percussion. He sang, and played on different kinds of guitars, one looking like an Indian sitar, and another, a ukelele. He even mimicked birds and made all kinds of jungle sounds to the delight of the audience. What an accomplished entertainer!

What followed was the Salsa Dura band who played dance music until ten o'clock (with a 10-minute intermission). When I left the venue, I was hearing a few comments from some ladies about how enjoyable the event was, and I said that it would have been better if it didn't rain. And one lady commented that whether it rained or shined, it didn't matter because the concert made you forget the weather.

MusicFest Vancouver would be the new name of the Festival in 2009 to pinpoint the fact that this is a music festival and not just a festival that could mean anything.

Congratulations to all who made this Festival a success!

© 2008 Ed Farolan