After a seven-year absence, celebrated multi-instrumentalist and BC Hall-of-Famer Sal Ferreras brought his highly acclaimed show Drum Heat to Vancouver once again this week. The show has typically featured a dazzling array of seasoned local and visiting musicians performing a dizzying kaleidoscope of musical styles, and Thursday’s event was no different.
Under Ferreras’ assured direction, the talented group of fourteen award-winning performers –with the help of the 20-member Sarabande choir– charted a globe-spanning musical journey. Leaping as effortlessly across styles and genres as across continents, the band improvised masterfully through a spectrum of Latin American styles, including music from the Caribbean, South Africa, India, and Finland. On hand were Celso Machado (guitar), Cassius Khan (tabla), John Reischman (mandolin), Tom Keenlyside (flute), Miles Black (piano), Jodi Proznick (stand-up bass), Toto Berriel (percussion), Paul Bray (percussion), Liam MacDonald (percussion), John Korsrud (trumpet), Raphael Geronimo (timbales), Niho Takase (piano), and guest vocalist Aerhyn Lao.
Ferreras’ enthusiasm and love for the music was self-evident in his careful curation, and the performers seemed to revel in the unique musical landscape he was painting. Each musician, including the choir, got a chance to showcase their talent for the eager audience. Collective oohs and aahs of delight from the crowd were frequent, especially during an incendiary tambourine solo by Liam Macdonald. Among the many other highlights of the evening were a virtuosic guitar solo by Celso, a touching duet by Ferreras and his daughter, an ethereal tabla performance by Cassius (accompanied by the Sarabande choir), and a rousing salsa rendition of the King of Pop’s very own Billy Jean as the inimitable finale.
Before the night was through, one extremely lucky guest won a two-hour jam session with Ferreras himself, and a $500 gift certificate for courses at Arts Umbrella, for which the concert was raising awareness and funds. Arts Umbrella is a vital local organization enabling young children in BC to access quality artistic and creative instruction. Ferreras has been closely involved with the group and is an outspoken advocate. Since 1979, the organization has enriched countless young lives by offering programs in the visual arts, design, theatre, dance, and music –many completely free of charge. Read more at www.artsumbrella.com