Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A surprise concert invitation

I had no plans for New Year's but it turns out my brother and sister in law had a cancellation with their concert I'm going to see Bob DeAngelis' tribute to Benny Goodman at Roy Thomson Hall this afternoon...and bonus, my brother Colin is contributing his trombone skills in the orchestra. Then off to Dhaba for some delicious Indian food. More later...a Happy and Jazzy New Year all!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Alex Goodman Quartet at the Rex

Great set from these young musicians - Alex Goodman on guitar, Chris Donnelly - piano, Justin Gray on bass and Mackenzie Longpre...hope I'm spelling that correctly on drums. Very high energy on original compositions one of which was based on a baroque theme, another a tribute to Felix Mendelsohn - there was also a good crowd which is nice during this holiday period. Alex, Chris and Justin were at the Banff Centre for workshops this past summer and obviously were inspired. My young friend Justin is off to India for 3 months soon along with Andrew and Jonathan Kay his fellow "Monsooners". They will study with their guru, visit the students they have done fundraising for to provide musical instruction and other benefits and tour around the country - just soak up all the incredible culture that India has to offer. And oops..forgot my camera...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Jazz Man

This is the amazing Larry Green (okay, he's my boss - but it's true).
Larry has the drive time show on Jazz FM from 2 - 6 p.m.
We also work on "Jazzology" together.
Larry shares his enthusiasm and incredible jazz knowledge with a great sense of humour every weekday.
Tune in!

Champagne Tastes on a Beer Budget

Some way this year I'm going to get more money or at least an income and independence... I would like to go out and hear more jazz but funds are in short supply these days...i.e. the supplier is being stingy. Harsh I know... I am hopefully off to see Julia Cleveland's group at the Rex tonight and would love to see Alex Goodman's group tomorrow for the early may be the last chance for a while to see the talented and sweet Justin Gray and also Richard Underhill...remains to be seen. In the meantime I will try and be positive...:)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Movie Recommendation

First, because Clint is doing a masterful job of movie making in his later years. Second, he surrounded himself with a talented cast of "newcomers" and third, he and Jamie Cullum co-wrote the theme song, which Jamie sings at the end of the film!! (Clint is a major jazz fan....) I read a review which likened the structure of the film to a Western...interesting to think about as you're watching the themes are very familiar - the stoic outsider who helps out the family harassed by an evil gang, the law being powerless, and substitute cars for horses, and greatest element of all - the need for vengeance. Of course, Mr. Eastwood is very familiar with THAT genre... Speaking of jazz and film, I wonder whatever happened to the Don Cheadle project he was planning on producing and starring in about Miles Davis....would love to see that...maybe Clint could get involved in that one too...after all, he has already done "Bird"...

Boss Brass, jazz in town and oh yes, Christmas..

This is the Boss Brass in action at the Old Mill last week. Photo is courtesy of Ben McConchie, one of our former "Jazzology" guests. Ben is a talented trumpet player from Humber College who I felt deserving of the opportunity of seeing his first ever Boss Brass concert with his friend and fellow trumpeter, Marty.
Glad you had a great time, guys! By the way, Ben has a great potential career in broadcasting...he's very professional!
Christmas in Whitby with my family was brother Alan even looked up vegan recipes on the internet and made a nutloaf and Tofu Ricotta Manicotti...yummm..there were even leftovers to take home.
Here they all are:
My sister in law Becky at left front, my sister Kathleen beside her, me, my dad, my brother in law Les and my brother and chef Alan.
Alan and Becky were babysitting a cute little Westie, 2 and a half named Buddy....
Isn't he cute...he was the sweetest little dog..
Their own sweet Westie, Heather, aged 13 died about a year ago..
As for music during the holidays I am debating between Brian Chahley and friends at Chalkers tomorrow from 6 - 10 or Russ Little Trio at the Old Mill...then there's also Tequila Bookworm....hmmm.
Planning on going to see Clint this afternoon in "Gran Torino" - that is my Boxing Day tradition...going to a movie and avoiding shopping.
Clint er, Mr. Eastwood as we know is a huge jazz it is kind of jazz related...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"Jazzology" all booked and Jingle Bones...

Wow! It's true - all the students have been booked now for "Jazzology" up until April 16th...a great gift! I'm looking forward to meeting all the "kids" as I call them...
Tomorrow night celebrate with a multitude of heavenly trombones at the Rhino on Queen West.
Come all you trombone players and fans...there is the promise of Christmas-type music plus one of the best beer selections anywhere to help you enjoy the music all the more.
Fun starts at 7:30 to around 10:30 ish. Also bring a donation for the Food Bank (non perishable or money). Thanks!
P.S. This is shameless plug for my brother Colin (who is as you guessed it a trombone, nay a BASS trombone player) - this is the second annual....
More jazz listings to come.
By the way, saw a great movie last night "Happy Go Lucky" - a Mike Leigh film about the adventures of the eternally optimistic Poppy in London. It's worth it for the scenes with the flamenco instructor alone!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bev Taft at Dominion on Queen

Shortbread cookies for Christmas...kind of a tradition with me. Again with the music choices - decisions, decisions... I believe I will check out the ever charming vocalist Bev Taft tomorrow night at 8:30 p.m. with Sam Murata and Tony Quarrington...this gig is promised to deliver lots of swinging music and some carefully chosen holiday favourites.. The 2nd annual Indo Jazz Festival is taking place tomorrow and Thursday at Trane starting at 8:30. Wednesday features Monsoon...which includes some of my favourite Humber students and graduates - Justin Gray, Andrew Kay and Adam Teixeira. The next night is Ravi Nampally's group Tasa. This concert is also a fundraiser for music students in India. $15/$10 students. This week's "Jazzology" guest is Matt Burns, a talented drummer from Mohawk. Matt brought along his enthusiastic parent when he visited our station. Tune in Thursday at 9 on Jazz FM 91.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Midday Monk

Thelonius of course...the onliest Monk.
It's a grey day here in Toronto and what better way to bring some sun than with Mr. Monk's wonderful compositions courtesy of the Art of Jazz studio down in the Distillery District.
Larry Cramer, who is co artistic director of the Art of Jazz Festival with his wife Jane Bunnett, and Andrew Scott, educator, Managing Editor of "Coda" and stellar guitarist, welcomed everyone and before introducing the band, announced that this was hopefully first in a series of concerts in the studio in the coming months. Potential guests would include the likes of pianist Fred Hirsch...exciting stuff!
Led by the two Janes (Bunnett and Fair) on soprano sax and flute (for Ms. Bunnett) they were ably assisted by the effervescent Norman Marshall Villeneuve on drums, Kieran Overs on bass and Mark Kieswetter on piano - Mark is a recent "immigrant" to Toronto brought here on the wave of jazz mastery and enthusiasm that is the great Jon Hendricks (both hail from Toledo Ohio).
Larry himself later joined in on trumpet and flugelhorn on a number of tunes.
Opening with "I Mean You" they followed with a seldom heard Monk "Light Blue" as Jane Fair explained, bringing the tempo down to a more mellow groove continuing with the beautiful "Crepscule for Nellie".
In the second set, Art of Jazz president Bonnie Lester provided vocals on "Ugly Beauty" and then the band got things cooking (with an infectious groove from Mr. Villeneuve) on "Bemsha Swing" and "Bye Ya".
This is a wonderful intimate space with room for about 50 . It's welcome news as we can always use more venues for jazz and especially a venue where jazz is listened to for its' own sake and not above the din of crowd chatter.

As a side note, I filled in a newcomer on all the jazz venues and possibilities...for this she dubbed me the "Jazz Fairy"...well, I like fairies....though can you worship a fairy? :)

I could be the Jazz Fairy Goddess..hmmm...or Fairy Godmother?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Being serenaded...

How cool is this...I am reception this afternoon and Jane Bunnett and her band are doing a soundcheck for a live to air broadcast tonight on Jazz FM. The wonderful Kellylee Evans is singing, Larry Cramer on trumpet and flugelhorn and Dave Restivo on piano among others... sometimes the perks are good. Also my vegan chocolate biscotti, fig and anise biscotti and Mexican Wedding cookies sometimes known as Pecan Sandies, Swedish Wedding Cakes etc. disappeared very quickly as most baking does here...

"Jazzology" on Thursday December 11, 2008

Be sure to tune in to catch this week's guest guitarist Michael Grieve a talented young man from Mohawk College , on Jazz FM 91.1 or to listen online 9 p.m. with host Larry Green.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A little more Kurt...

Here he is with Larry Green host of the afternoon drive show and "Jazzology" at Jazz FM.
Nice hat, Kurt!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Worshipping at the Church of Kurt

Here is virtual Kurt handsomely decorating the pass I was given as a ticket for his show at the Diesel Playhouse...which after a bit of confusion meant perching on a stool on the back wall.
Well, free Kurt is free Kurt.
In his masterful way he grabbed the audience from the start with a lovely a cappella piece about autumn. I am gushing of course but he has a way of riveting an audience's attention like few people can claim.
He was then joined by his composing, arranging and performing partner the stellar Laurence Hobgood and by new sidemen, Clark Summers and Ulysses Owens Jr.
The second tune of the night was Joe Jackson's "Stepping Out" - I continue to like how people are mining the popular songbook to more recent decades.
From an almost sermon like rap on staying out late to a philosophical mind bending tangent on what I will call "Life of the Mind", Kurt (who pointed out he had a headcold) was nevertheless in top form. Other tunes were "Man Up in the Air" his nod to Wayne Shorter and a new piece "Dream Clock " with a nod to the late Joe Zawinul, seamlessly melding it into "Night Moves".
If the audience hadn't melted yet, they surely would have with "Say It" with one woman in the front waving her CD around...ahem..(not me of course).
As an encore he sang a tune about a Little Cloud in search of God with bassist Clark Summers.
Love Mr. Elling, he never disappoints.
This afternoon I had the pleasure of going shopping, ostensibly for Christmas presents, but we shall see how many make it to their intended recipients. Louisa LaBarbera jeweller to the jazz stars :) was having one of her semi annual in house (literally) and I picked up a few things as well as yummy snacks and dips provided by her friend Pamela DiTomaso and her Epicure Selections (I got some of the Pesto/Artichoke dip mix) Need I add there was also chocolate in the form of a fountain. I like shiny sparkly's the magpie in me.
You are guaranteed to meet a few jazz vocalists at her sales, she also brings her merchandise to "Girl's Night Out" on occasion, the weekly ladies (and some gents) jazz jam at Chalkers.
Louisa is also part of jazz royalty, being the daughter of renowned saxophonist Pat LaBarbera
Tomorrow, a potential trip to see Richard Underhill at Chalkers.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Jazzology" this Thursday December 4th

This week's guest at 9 on JAZZ FM 91.1 is Byung Gul Jung, orginally from Korea. He is a talented pianist and composer currently attending Humber College. Remember you can always listen online at Tune in hear his unique story and his music. As Larry Green says "It's always a learning experience".

I won tickets to see Kurt Elling! Yes!!

Tomorrow night at the Diesel Playhouse...I responded to a Facebook contest from the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival on why I really needed to go...and so I am! I was prepared to miss out as the $50 tickets were a little out of my budget, of attraction, angels, what have you...I am completely grateful!! More later....

Monday, December 1, 2008

Prevent "Pushing Daisies" from, well, pushing daisies

I learned in my local paper this morning one of my favourite shows "Pushing Daisies" is being cancelled or at least not renewed by ABC.
This delightful show is part fantasy, comedy, romance, murder mystery - has great writing and optics - the sets, costumes and cast are fabulous. The effervescent"Olive Snook" played by Kristen Chenoweth, the wacky aunts Lily and Vivian played by Swoosie Kurtz and Ellen Greene, charming and beguiling "Chuck" played by Anna Friel, the cynical PI "Emerson Cod" played by Chi McBride and of course the sweet but deadly piemaker "Ned" played by Lee Pace.
There is so much substandard fare on TV these days that it's a crime to cancel such a creative show...perhaps one Emerson Cod can solve and keep solving..
There are petitions on the internet on both Facebook and just google "Pushing Daisies petition"
With all the doom and gloom around these days let's keep this bright and whimisical place on the air!

It was a dark and stormy night...

But the music was bright and soothing...:)

Neither sleet nor snow nor mix thereof shall keep this jazz babe from her appointed rounds.

I ventured out to hear Daniel Jamieson, a wonderful young alto sax player who is back in town for a few days. He is currently living in New York and going to the Manhattan School of Music. Daniel was joined by Hadley Card on guitar, the esteemed Dave Young on bass and Ethan Ardelli on drums. The group performed enthusiastically for a small, brave crowd, playing both standards and a few of Daniel's own compositions. Also sitting in were a few other young talents - Dan Easty and Bobby Hsu on alto saxes and Dean Yeats added beautiful and warm trombone. Mr Jamieson will be back in town for the holidays so I hope to hear him again and with a bigger crowd...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Jazz in the basement of U of T

Where it belongs....or words to that effect, joked Andrew Downing, bass player extraordinaire, organizer, master of ceremonies and videographer for the Jazz Composition Graduate Students concert last night. The room was reminiscent of a 60's era recording studio complete with fluorescent overhead lighting and soundproof walls...I almost expected Miles to come in and ignore people or be rude to them...whichever came first. I was very impressed with all the pieces which were presented last night by several "Jazzology" um, "graduates". Ben Dietschi rounded up some strings for his composition - 2 violins and a cellist. Heather Segger was very comfortable in the conducting role of her fellow students and her husband Mark Segger not only ably provided drum/percussion support for most performances he also presented 2 lovely trio outings himself. Other composers included trombonists Robin Jessome ( an admitted Carla Bley fan) and Steve Ward who has a regular Saturday night gig with his Pocket Quintet at Tequila Bookworm as well as programming acts there. Finally, Tom Van Seters, who is a future guest had 2 short pieces, as he described them one of which was a beautiful, untitled "lament" which reminded me of the constant flow of waves crashing on the shore. Congratulations everyone. Andrew says there will be another such concert in the spring... Please listen to Jazz FM at 9 p.m. tonight for Ben McConchie's "Jazzology". Ben is a charming young trumpet player from B.C. who gives a great much so he helped out Larry Green live during our recent (and very successful) fundraising.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Working on my abundance affirmations....

I am having to think more carefully about what I will go and hear these days...decisions, decisions and of course calling on the universe for funds for jazz and other activities. I am going to try and go to Somewhere There on Dufferin south of Queen tomorrow night at 8 for "Miami Rice" ...Steve Ward (trombone), Andrew Downing (bass) and Dan Gaucher on drums.. Wednesday I am torn between the Graduate Jazz Composition Concert at U of T (former and upcoming "Jazzology" guests) in Geiger Torel Room, Faculty of Music, University of Toronto and the Humber Student showcase at Humber on Lakeshore...same deal. Thursday TVA AGM...with food enticement (that's Toronto Vegetarian Association). Friday....TBA... Weekend - Daniel Jamieson back in town from NYC at the Pilot in Yorkville at 3:30 and at Trane on Sunday night... Will report later...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Yes, I am a wimp in winter...

This lovely image of balloons is from last night's "newmindspace" event at U of T - Night Lights higher than the CN tower...these balloons were being inflated around 7 p.m.

Unfortunately, other than receiving a glowstick and milling about watching other people do things an hour was about all I was interested in as it was -8 degrees C (or possibly -13 with windchill). Needless to say I will have to update you as to what transpired up to 3 hours later when LED lights were attached and the balloons were aloft...I did give it the old college try..

It makes me feel unCanadian though especially since I spent many times outdoors in -30 or more in Alberta!! (Yes, but at least it's a dry cold, as we say on the Prairies :))

A tiny spider outside the condo window this afternoon put me to shame...still alive and moving, albeit sluggish....power to the arachnids!

I am reading Barbara Walter's "Audition" which is fascinating...hard to believe arguably the most famous interviewer on the planet is a self confessed introvert. Comforting...

HopefullyI will be out jazzing this week or I may have to change the name of this blog...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lights higher than the CN tower....

Will try and go help out with this art installation at U of T campus tonight...with LED lights....should be fun...I'll let you know. Love the concepts they come up with: pillow fights, bubble blowing etc. After I may pop by Tequila Bookworm to hear the Pocket Quintet (and warm up after all that outdoorsy stuff).... check out the website and make a donation to keep these fun, free events going...we need more spontaniety, creativity and joy in all our lives!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Have an off tempo day

Hello all, Today is a day I would appreciate some love or positive feedback about the blog as I am feeling taken for granted otherwise in my life. Feel free to comment on any posting you see here. Thanks! Joy, peace and happiness to you all!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Magical Evening at the Old Mill

Truthfully, I wasn't certain what an entire evening with Welsh vocalist/pianist on the basis of two numbers he performed at this year's Jazz Lives, even though said numbers were very compelling...points for a Joni Mitchell tune and one of my favourites "A Case of You". How can you not love a man who records an entire album of Joni Mitchell tunes?
Although he does come highly recommended as Jazz Vocalist of the the Year at the 2007 BBC Jazz Awards in Britain and by Larry Green (and my boss knows his stuff)...
I had listened to a couple of tracks from his latest album "Lifejacket" and was not completely won over, but knowing some people are a much better live experience than recorded I gave it a go. My doubts were quickly dispelled when he took the stage and won over the audience with his great rapport and quick wit. He commented about the Christmasy feel with 2 large decorated trees on either side and quoted "It's coming on Christmas and they're cutting down trees ("River" for those non Joni fans) . He weaved that tune together with "A Case of You" asking if there was anyone in the audience who had ever loved someone inappropriate :)
Imagine an audience chiming in to "Makin Whopee" and Lou Reed's "Take a Walk on the Wild Side" da doo doo doo doo... There were great anecdotes about not getting cast in "Guys and Dolls" but doing "Jerry Springer- the musical".
At one point he provided delightful impersonations of Sarah Vaughn and Johnny Matthis as well as performing some of his own wonderful compositions "42" (and what a great age it is/was) and "I Want to Live in Paris".....ah, don't we all!
The biggest highlights for me were a heartwrenching verions of Shirley Horn's "Here's to Life" and a song by our own Stephen Fearing I don't hear nearly enough "You Have the Most Beguiling Eyes" of the best yearning tunes I've ever heard.
Mr. Shaw pours all his heart and soul into his performance,(his stagecraft is superb) and that's what connects to the audience. He graciously thanked Ross and Denise Porter of Jazz FM, Jaymz Bee, Brad Barker and everyone at the station.
I will be there to hear him when he returns!
P.S. My friend Richard who always seems ahead of the curve musically recommended someone to me Greg Laswell and I have his tune "I Like How the Day Sounds" going through my brain..check it out...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Blessings to those in Santa Barbara County

After having just been through this area, I really feel for the residents. Yet another reminder to be thankful for what we've got...and appreciate everything, our experiences and everyone every single day!

One of the beautiful beaches north of Santa Monica en route to Santa Barbara....

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sizzling evening at the Rex

First up Nathan Hiltz on guitar, Johnny Griffiths on sax and bass clarinet and Adam Teixiera (again!) :) on drums (he was subbing for Sly Juhas.
A different incarnation than my last sighting of Nathan - original compositions rather than standards, one of which was entitled "Untitled Composition No. 2" and I should have thought to write down the others!
Next up, Roberto Occhipinti's group - it was a record release for his new CD "A Bend in the River" and the place quickly filled up for the 9:30 show.
That's David Vireilles on piano on the left, Roberto introducing the group, Luis Deniz on sax and Dafnis Prieto in from NY on drums.
There were a number of drummers there to hear him...I spied Daniel Barnes, Mark Kelso, Lorie Adi Wolf (a former "Jazzology" guest) and Max Senitt, that's Max's lovely curly hair in front of Luis...
Tunes from the new release included "Umbria" which Robert dedicated to the photographers in the audience, jokingly ( a reference to Keith Jarrett's tantrum at their jazz festival) and "Chamacos" which is a hybrid Spanish/Cuban word meaning "young cats" i.e. his fellow musicians. Great stuff and top notch performances and like everyone else, I found myself being mesmerized by Dafnis Prieto

Monday, November 10, 2008

Justin Gray Project...continued...

All I can say is "Wow"! They get better each time I hear them (Justin and Adam)...
This is a picture of the whole group: Adrean Farrugia on keyboard, Justin on bass, Quinsin Nachoff on sax, Jon Challoner on trumpet and Adam Teixeira on drums (in hiding in this shot)...still figuring out the camera...I guess I should read the instruction booklet?

Here is Adam, with Justin....

Justin with Adrean....

They played a number of originals of Justin's : "Disclaimer" which he wrote after his Humber recital...:) "For Grandma" in honour of his grandmother helping him finance the purchase of his lovely new bass and "Through the Pane"....not about a girlfriend as he joking said but looking out the window at the beauty of the mountains when he was at the Banff Centre.

I am so thrilled to hear these musicians every time, it gives me such joy!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Justin Gray Project at Trane tonight...

Will try, try, try to remember to bring my camera so I can have visuals! The sweet and talented Justin Gray (bass) is joined by special guest Quinsin Nachoff, Adrean Farrugia, Adam Teixiera and a cast of thousands...okay maybe 2 or 3 others. The fun starts around 9 at Trane Studio on Bathurst... I may try and catch Mr. Max Sennitt at Gate 403 before as well... Feeling a little bummed today as a temp job opportunity didn't come through...better days....

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes to Hope

I can't tell you how thrilled I am that Barack Obama is President Elect. Incredible that so many people chose optimism and positive outlook as the bellweather for these trying times. Congratulations Mr. Obama you deserve it for having a great message and for your integrity, Now, if only we had such hope and pizzazz in our elections! Perhaps if Justin Trudeau follows in his illustrious father's footsteps....? Had tea at the Windsor Arms this afternoon with my dear friend Lorraine. We were both "high" on the U.S. election result. What a lovely civilized experience with our our teapots, light as air scones with cream and jam, lovely little asparagus rolls and cheese tarts as well as petit fours... It almost makes me feel grown up! But as you can see by my profile picture...I do believe in fairies...:)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Mad about "Mad Men"

Yes, this is a "Mad Men" like outfit which I got a lot of compliments on....there is also a black pencil skirt which is even more "period"...of course, now I am in withdrawal after the last episode of the season aired on Sunday.
I owe the fabulous Lisa Taub for helping me select it at the first sale of hers I went to....I have been thrilled with every purchase!
Feeling much better after my reflexology treatment...which is why I put my faith in so called alternative up...acupuncture and all around wellness...thanks Dr. Woo and Dr. Cindy Lim...
Excited to see the results of the U.S. election..Go Barack!!
On a jazzy note, fall fundraising drive is on at Jazz FM 91...please donate online or keep jazz on the air!! You can also win fabulous prizes and get great thank you gifts...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More music desires than funds...

Well, I certainly hope everyone is going to Ben Miller's fundraiser at Lula tonight...I will have to catch him later when I have the cash....I wish him every success, he is a talented young bass player and a fine young man, plus, the cause is fantastic...raising money for instrument purchase for kids in Regent Park here in Toronto. Ben I owe you $50 or more.... Also, found out today my hero, the most amazing jazz singer on the planet, the man who makes my insides melt...yes Kurt Elling is coming to T.O. in of course the question is, will I be there? Here's hoping....need to practice my "unlimited abundance" affirmations and some Feng Shui or get a job of course....

Monday, October 27, 2008

Laid low by the common cold....

This is what I need to be consuming lots of these past few days.
I took Cold F/X, Vitamin C, got an immune boost drink from "Fresh" however, the cold is winning.
Perhaps I was overdoing it by going to my Pilates Ball Level 2 -3 class today...but I figured maybe I could sweat those germs out!
I should be back in action in a couple of days to my full jazz appreciation strength.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ori Dagan

Checked out my friend Ori Dagan's gig on Wednesday night at Dazzling Restaurant, 291 King Street West. In case you didn't know Ori is an up and coming singer with a wonderful rich baritone voice and great scatting ability. He was performing with the fabulous Dave Restivo on keyboard, Jordan O'Connor on bass and new to me - Jeff Taylor on blistering violin (if violins can blister or perhaps burn since they are wood?) The restaurant offers pan Asian cuisine which lots of lovely looking sushi included. $3.50 Martinis are available on Wednesdays. Ori's gig there is on Wednesday and Sunday from 6 - 10 p.m.....spend a whole evening there or take in a set before the theatre... Visit his website or on myspace....

Monday, October 20, 2008

The fabulous Tim O'Brien

It is a rare thing when you are completely mesmerized by a performer and this happened last night at Hugh's Room with the return of Tim O'Brien.
I was first introduced to Tim's music through a CD recommendation (and one of my favourite recordings) "Red on Blonde" a great series of bluegrass covers of Bob Dylan tunes.
Tim is a redhead...:)
I had the pleasure of hearing him live a couple of years ago in the same venue and couldn't wait to hear him again!!
He is the consummate musician and entertainer, battling the tail end of a cold as he explained, the "gravel" in his voice he seamlessly switched between guitar, mandolin and fiddle with witty reparatee and even banjo jokes in between as he was tuning.
His first tune was a beautiful and haunting traditional melody "Pretty Fair Maid in the Garden" which was enchanting.
The audience ate it up and loudly applauded and whistled after each tune. He has a new recording called "Chameloeon" and performed said tune with audience participation. His second set included requests such as "Senor" from "Red on Blonde".
"Like I used to do" was a paen to enduring love and some political tongue in cheek with "The World was made for Everyone" (and especially for me)...about U.S. sense of entitlement...
Well, he did do a fundraiser for Mr. Obama...
Another poignant tune about unrequited love "The Garden".
Can't wait to see him again. Check him out at You can find out where he's performing next, he mentioned New England and Albany, NY .

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Sad Note

My mom, Betty Murray (nee Whitley) passed away today - she was 81. She had been diagnosed in the summer with several brain tumours and the cancer had also spread to one of her lungs.
This is the last photo I have of her at my niece Meredith's wedding in July. My sister Kathleen is on the left and has been a wonderful support for my dad through this trying time - looking after him and also visiting my mom.
Thank you mom for feeding me, teaching me to cook and bake, love old movies and music, giving me a lifelong love of reading, the arts, an interest in the metaphysical and unknown, listening to me while we did the dishes, comforting me when life seemed so hard especially through the difficult teenage years.
I loved hearing your stories of Belfast and what it was like growing up there, through the Great Depression and the Second World War.
Bless you for all that and I feel at peace knowing you are on a new journey surrounded by those you loved and lost and you will be remembered by many here on earth, including Harry, my dad; Alan and Colin my brothers and their wives Becky and Kathy; Kathleen and her husband Les; grandchildren Meredith, Connor and Frances.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Nathan Hiltz trio and a pie baking compulsion

Drat...forgot the camera again...must put it by the door to take photos of gigs! I still prefer pumpkin pie, though I did make a carrot pie just to try it...and made another pie on Monday since the first one was eaten by my family.... If you're looking for some wonderful jazz be sure to check out the Nathan Hiltz Trio at Joe Mama's on King Street West, every Sunday from 6 - 10. Nathan, a great guitar player is joined by Bernie Senensky on Hammond B3 and Sly Juhas on drums. There was a small but enthusiastic crowd for a Thanksgiving Sunday. The performance was being videotaped and they were rocking the place...more bodies needed, please! Nathan is going to be a guest on "Jazzology" on JAZZ FM in January...I'll let you know when to listen. He is studying at U of graduate studies I believe... King West seems to be becoming a lively area for jazz now, what with "Quotes" on Fridays from 5 - 8 with CJQ as the house band and always a great guest soloist sitting in with them. I'm going to try and catch the fabulous singer Ori Dagan at another new venue, Dazzling Restaurant at 291 King West from 6 - 9, I believe. Also the lovely and talented Madeline Forster from Rochester N.Y is at the Rex tomorrow at 9:30 p.m. and Thursday Hendrik Meurkens, harmonica is in from New York City. I'm going to try and catch the jazz jam tonight too, Justin Gray is hosting and he is one of my favourite "Jazzology" kids...:)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Giving Thanks and Providing Sanctuary

Yes, it's time for Thanksgiving. I am in charge of dessert for the family dinner and as pictured have made a Carrot Pie on the left and a Pumpkin Pie.

My friend Richard swears by Carrot Pie, more orange and uses less sugar. We shall see which pie people will choose as I'm sure they're both yummy. Also as a topping, Cashew "Creem" made with raw cashews and all vegan....

Speaking of vegan...the Farm Sanctuary fundraiser at the Rivoli was fun last night. Lots of great raffle prizes and music. Yvette et al (our pet sitter) of did a wonderful job. Check out which raises fund to help out abandoned neglected and abused animals also, Farm Sanctuary's website ( which " works to end cruelty to farm animals through rescue, promotes compassionate living through rescue, education and advocacy" (from their website). Both well worth your attention and support!!

Again, forgot my camera to take in visually the haunting vocals of the talented Miwa Gemini from New York and the energetic and captivating band from Vesta Varro. All acts waived their fees as part of the fundraiser and were previous winners of Indie Week in 2006 and 2007 respectively.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I am thankful for health, joy, love of friends and family, music, a peaceful country, being literate, being able to vote and speak my mind, enough to eat, a roof over my head and a sense of wonder and magic at what each new day will bring, and finally but not least laughter. I could go on endlessly with my list as I truly feel blessed.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Great sounds and sights

Checked out Jen Sagar performing with Alan Lightstone at Harlem on 67 Richmond Street at Church...and they sounded lovely. This is a cozy venue and I hope to hear more jazz. They are renowned for their soul food..mmmm...
On Saturday night, joined the throngs (well, small throngs) of people checking out Nuit Blanche, which is a nightlong conceptual art fest here in Toronto 7 p.m. - 7 a.m.ish. Liberty Village was really fun and less congested that Queen West last year.
The above photo is not Jen's gig but rather an exhibit about "fugitive chickens" where you could call their friend? negotiator and ask questions...I should have called and asked if they had names or aliases. The artist painted their portraits using a fork...
There was a waterfall coming out of a former prison chapel from the 3rd didn't turn out well and a gathering of "mascots" at Lamport stadium...
This was a beautiful mandala made of coconut....
And this was just fun...

Yes, it IS the happiest place on earth!!

After years and years of seeing the teacups on Wonderful World of Disney..I finally got to ride in was the first thing I wanted to go on and it was everything I expected.
It's very hard to be sad about anything when you're spinning around in these colourful cups and listening to children laugh...
Such fun and a very hot day...not as busy as I would have expected but it was off season...even though there were school age children there...playing hooky?
Checked out Tomorrowland, rode the Matterhorn, took the train, went on the Jungle Adventure..which was delightfully cheesy and loved the Peter Pan ride, flying in a ship over London..
The most magical part was the evening parade featuring floats of most of the Disney films and character, like Pinocchio, Lion King, Little Mermaid and all the princesses: Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty...
I almost missed the parade because I was shopping and couldn't resist these lovely ears...

Still more California...

Going up the Pacific Coast Highway en route to Santa Barbara, we stopped here for a picnic lunch. I believe it was called Sycamore park.
There was a camera crew filming a scene of a man falling over face down in the sand while a box drops from his hands and drifts out to sea....
How Californian...
This little lizard came to say hello when we stopped for a gorgeous panoramic view above Ventura.
No sightings of mountain lions, although there were lots of warning signs...i.e. can you tell the difference between a mountain lion and a bobcat? Are you going to have the presence of mind to stop and notice the differences?
Disneyland is next as I try and conclude my trip to California....

Friday, October 3, 2008

Changing the profile photo and More California

Notice my profile picture change...I am wearing a "Tinkerbell" tshirt and earring in honour of Disneyland and that I like fairies and sparkly stuff...:) I took the train down to San Diego and it was wonderful...such great scenery...for most of the trip the train hugs the coastline and you can practically reach out and touch the Pacific! This is one of the beautiful structures at Balboa Park, which include a theatre and art gallery. I believe the buildings were built for a World's Fair over 100 years ago and are still gorgeous! This is a photo of my dear friend Nancy and me at Balboa Park in San Diego on our way in to a lovely dinner at Prado. She was so gracious in showing me around her city including visiting the old section where we were serenaded by musicians at lunch.
Coming installments....trip up to Santa Barbara and Disneyland....

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Chaos Theory at Tequila Bookworm

The "kids" sounded great or "wicked" as one off kilter Queen West character declared least she enjoyed the music, although not George Bush as she also repeated.... Kudos to Jonathan Kay and Andrew Kay on saxophones, Justin Gray on bass and Adam Teixeira on drums... And yes, I forgot my camera again...

Earlier I was indulged at a Thierry Mugler event at the Bay with noshes (lovely cheeses and fruit and bread) and also wine! I experienced a makeup session and tried out some of the newly repackaged and limited edition body products of the "Angel" line...a lovely perfume that I always get compliments on... I am also dreaming of new fall clothes and shoes...and the funds to purchase them with...

Eating my way through Santa Monica

Lemons and oranges and artichokes...all organic...this is how you know you're not in Kansas or Canada anymore..
This photo was taken on a Saturday at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market.
I enjoyed tiny local grapes, plums, oranges, pistachios, tomatoes and apples...I did not have means of cooking the artichokes or those would have been purchased too!
Not everything is best cooked though, in fact many things can be prepared in a delicious fashion raw or "living"...that's my segue to talk about Juliano's Raw in Santa Monica.....
The amazing concotions are a "grilled cheese" sandwich made with cauliflower "cheese" nuts and avocado on a type of cracker bread.
Closest in the photo is the mango salad which had some sort of creamy nut dressing...both were fabulous as was the pomegranate drink.
We were seated in a separate area with lovely Stargazer lilies on the's like they knew we were favourite flower..
Talk about the celebrity treatment.
I was feeling a little under the weather and asked if they had any iron boosting drinks. Our waiter, who resembled a blond Dennis Miller suggested "Alien Blood" a very savory drink kind of spicy with burdock root..that he said a lot of people swore by but was not to his I gave it a go....
It was so tasty...and energizing that I got one the next day too.
We ate at Real Food Daily on Santa Monica Boulevard for dinner which was yummy too. We had the "Vermont Harvest" with veggies and quinoa and wild rice and the "TV dinner" which is tempeh meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy and veggies.
For dessert, a "Bombay Chocolate Cake" with bananas and curry....mmmm
Forgot to take the camera along...
Cookies sampled from their takeout area earlier in the day were also yummy...
Tomorrow I will describe my train trip to San Diego and my visit with my dear friend and mentor, Nancy.
Tonight, I will try to get out for some jazz at Tequila Bookworm at 9 p.m. - Chaos Theory with Andrew and Jonathan Kay, Justin Gray and Adam Teixeira.
Some former Jazzology guests from Humber College....

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Seaview Motel

Very retro, funky, close to everything including the beach..
There was also a great little coffee shop next door, Cora's - which was very popular and tiny.
Patio/terrace a table and chairs outside the room...
The room itself was huge...
Plus, a lovely lemon tree....
More tomorrow including Food in Santa Monica, trip to San Diego, trip up the coast to Santa Barbara....and of course, Disneyland!!

Back from the land of Endless Summer

Dude! How Californian is this? Check it out! Okay, enough...
This is taken on a Sunday morning at Santa Monica Beach, a short walk from the Seaview Motel...where I was staying...more on that later.
It was wall to wall or wave to wave surfers and it was actually mesmerizing. I loved having the ocean wash over my bare feet and I can see how surfing could become a seems to be all about figuring out which wave to try, being calm, riding into the wave...very Zen.
These dudes are in serious shape as well.
The ubiquitous palm trees....taken at Pacific Palisades Park above Santa Monica beach.
About 88 degrees Fahrenheit that day...this was on the tour of LA I took, which gave a taste of everything, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Farmer's Market, Santa Monica, Venice Beach...
I will try and fill in more as I go along...I took ALOT of photos...
Tomorrow San Diego, lemons and lizards...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Trevor Falls Quartet at Tequila Bookworm

Hot music for a chilly night...the feeling of fall was in the air and at one point the musicians closed the overhead door to the street. Trevor Falls (drums), Jon Challoner (trumpet), Dan Fortin (bass) and Trevor Giancola (guitar) performed a number of their own originals to warm up the crowd. I am trying to come to this venue as much as possible to encourage programming jazz and especially as a place for younger musicians to get the opportunity to perform. Trevor G sat in with my friend John Stowell when he was in town and is also friends with Fabio Ragnelli, one of our "Jazzology" guests last year. The quartet performed one of Fabio's tunes and he was there to hear it. Again, forgot the camera....d'oh! That's a habit I need to get into so that I have a visual record. Baked some banana chocolate chip muffins this a.m. So this is turning into the "jazzy food blog" as my friend Nancy suggested....

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Art by Surprise

Didn't realize today was the Queen West Art Crawl so I got in the last half hour of gallery wandering. Also, there was an Art Fair in Trinity Bellwoods Park with numerous artists and craftspeople...I was coveting some surprise there, I am a magpie when it comes to shiny things....

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Gate 403 last night....

Doesn't this look like fun...Max Sennitt Y sus Amigos..Jacek Karlowski on guitar, Mike Wark on sax, Max on drums and Ben Miller on bass. They have all appeared on "Jazzology" and were rocking the house last night. I'm always so proud to hear them...
And then, the Jazz Safari showed up with Jaymz Bee's enthusiastic group, of at least 2 dozen to cheer them on...
Safari participants donate $250 each to Jazz Fm and Jaymz takes them on a tour of jazz clubs for one night, usually 5 locations and pays the cover.
I have been twice at Jaymz' generous invitation and it has been a blast!
This is me and Jaymz Bee, radio host, bon vivant, man about town and the Energizer Bunny of jazz...I don't know how he does it? I want his do many others....

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Raw and the Cooked....

Yes, two count them two postings in one day!! I was just so excited about the raw Veggie Pate from Rose's's amazing...I have to restrain myself from eating it all..
The cookies are Maple Flax from Jae Steele's book "Get it Ripe". Jae also did a cooking demo at the Food Fair, which unfortunately I didn't get to see/participate in...oh well, her book rocks!