Arturo Sandoval and Orquesta Goma Dura


Date 13 August 2006 at 20.00 Venue Orpheum Theatre

Arturo Sandoval, trumpet, keyboards & percussion; Javier Concepcion, piano; Armando Gola, bass; Tomas Cruz, percussion; Alexis Arce, drums; Ed Calle, Saxophone

Reviewer John Jane

It could not have escaped Arturo Sandoval’s attention that his scheduled Festival Vancouver gig at the Orpheum coincided with another famous Cuban’s eightieth birthday. Since defecting from his homeland in 1990, the legendary jazz trumpeter has been quite frank in his opinion about Fidel Castro’s failings as a political leader.

While Sandoval offered no comments about Castro during his performance, one had to wonder if the event affected his mood. For someone with a reputation for being a showman, he was pretty low keyed. He actually had more dialogue with the sound technician than with the audience.

This is not to say that Sandoval and his five-piece band weren’t entertaining. On the contrary, they performed a dazzling, 90-minute set that combined afro-Cuban fusion with flashy bee-bop. After what seemed like forever setting-up the instruments, Sandoval got the audience going with tunes like "Eastern Blues," and "Eso Es Lo Que Hay."

The Cuban jazzman, who also played a couple of tunes with the warm-up act, Orquesta Goma Dura, did a little of everything. He sang, played the mouth harp, electric keyboard, accompanied the rhythm section on percussion. All this plus an articulate turn as a piano soloist; although the audience responded more enthusiastically to his impeccable trumpet playing and Ed Calle’s searing tenor saxophone.

Since making his home in the United States, the former Dizzy Gillespie protégé’s jazz influences have become more cosmopolitan. On stage, he more closely resembles a university professor than a jazz musician, which, of course, he is. He has tenure in the music department at Florida International University.

Arturo Sandoval has earned the right to forego encores. He is a unique talent who excels in playing different instruments in diverse musical idioms. I just hope the next opportunity to see him perform isn’t on Castro’s birthday.


© 2006 John Jane