Pacific Symphony ready to bring some ‘Latin Fire’

Jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, shown performing in 2016, will join the Pacific Symphony for two shows next weekend.
Legendary jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, shown performing at Dorothy Chandler Pavillion in Los Angeles in 2016, will join the Pacific Symphony for two shows next weekend.
(Courtesy of Timothy Norris)

Cuban American jazz trumpeting legend Arturo Sandoval may be almost 75 years old now, but he vividly remembers hearing one particular vinyl album more than five decades ago.

It was a Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker compilation record from the 1940s, just before Sandoval was born. And it blew his mind.

“I was so in shock, because I’d never heard anything like it,” Sandoval said. “It turned my head upside down. I’m still trying to figure it out, what those people were playing in ’46, because they were ahead of their time, big time. They created that style that they call bebop, which is the most intricate and complicated and beautiful style of music within jazz in general.”

Enrico Lopez-Yañez, shown in November, is the Pops Conductor for the Pacific Symphony.
(Courtesy of Doug Gifford)

Sandoval has brought that kind of excitement to audiences too, as part of a long career that has included 10 Grammy Awards and one Emmy. Now he’s coming to Costa Mesa next weekend to bring some heat to the stage.

He will perform at the Pacific Symphony’s “Latin Fire” concerts on Friday and Saturday nights, Feb. 16 and 17, at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. The show promises to merge jazz and Latin music for an upbeat and energetic night.

“We’re going to do it like a fusion, but it’s mainly based on Afro-Cuban jazz,” Sandoval said, smoking a cigar, during a recent Zoom interview. “My main concern, and the only thing I pray to God for those two nights, is that we need a full house. That’s the only thing, man. If we have a full house, we’ll take care of the rest. We’re going to try our best to let those people have a good time and enjoy music.”

The first half of the show will feature arrangements from Pacific Symphony Principal Pops Conductor Enrico Lopez-Yañez and Costa Rican trumpet soloist José Sibaja of favorites including Piazzolla’s “Libertango,” Lecuona’s “Malagueña” and Bizet’s “Carmen Suite.”

Sibaja, who is Sandoval’s good friend and spent more than a decade as Ricky Martin’s trumpet player, will perform along with soprano Mónica Ábrego.

After the intermission, Sandoval will take the stage with his band for his Pacific Symphony debut. He said they’ll play some standard jazz, as well as compositions that specifically honor his mentor, Gillespie.

Trumpet player José Sibaja will perform as part of the "Latin Fire" concert next weekend.
Trumpet player José Sibaja will perform as part of the “Latin Fire” concert next weekend.
(Courtesy of Swak Photography)

“So much of the music of Latin America is based on dance, love and passion,” Lopez-Yañez said. “The audience will get to hear that in some of the words and music that Monica will sing, and some of the feeling and style of that more accelerated music. And then, of course, fire, in my mind, depicts what you’ll be seeing visually, in terms of the virtuosic playing that both Arturo and Jose will be doing.”

Lopez-Yañez, who grew up a trumpet player himself, said he’s a big fan of Sandoval and looking forward to working with him for the first time.

“It’s just such a dynamic instrument when it’s in the hands of these great performers like Arturo and José,” he said. “Sometimes you feel like their fingers are going to be on fire, or their lips are going to be on fire, just because they’re doing these incredible acrobatics on their instruments. It’s really fun to watch.”

The evening promises concert-goers a trip to Old Havana as soon as they step into the lobby, with people teaching salsa dancing and signature Latin cocktails being served.

Tickets for Pacific Symphony can be purchased via or by calling the box office at (714) 755-5799.