Friday, August 29, 2008

Ashkenaz, oy!

Good music is good music. I had a delightful time grooving to Abraham Inc. last night at Harbourfront. An interesting fusion of funk and klezmer performed by kickass musicians, lead by David Krakauer on clarinet, SoCalled (aka Josh Dolgin) rapping and keyboards and funkmeister Fred Wesely on trombone. A big hit with the audience...the rain held off long enough for everyone to enjoy the performance. There was even a call for rappers in the audience and Junior T who happened to be strolling by, provided rhymes from the audience. Treat number two. Love her hair!! I had the pleasure of meeting Dganit Daddo or just Daddo as she is professionally known and her accompanist Youval Keydar at the airport yesterday. While driver Rick Campbell, a stellar actor whom I saw in Video Cabaret's "Saskatchewan", waited nearby I proceeded to wait for about an hour until Customs and Immigration were finally through. The duo were lovely people in spite of a long flight from Tel Aviv via Rome. They were looking forward to a Canadian yesterday was cool and raining. Having visited here before in March and December. I assured them the weekend would be better. You can catch them at the Toronto Star Stage on September 1 at 6 p.m. at Harbourfront or at the Sephardic Cafe at 11 p.m at the Lakeside Terrace. To combine two great pleasures, they are also performing at the Free Times Cafe on Sunday, August 31 from 12 -3 at the "Bella, did you eat brunch?" I'm looking forward to more great music over the weekend at Ashkenaz...

Monday, August 25, 2008

John and Don and tons of tomatoes

This is my dear friend John Stowell from Portland Oregon on guitar with the amazing Reg Schwager on guitar, legendary Don Thompson and fabulous Terry Clarke on drums. They were performing at Chalkers last night. John is staying with us here in Toronto. I have known him for about 15 years...time flies! He and Bruce Phares a wonderful bass player and all around fun guy used to stay with us during the Jazz City festival in Edmonton and I always, always looked forward to their visits...kind of like Santa Claus. John is also here also for the MIAC show. He enjoyed wandering around Kensington market on Saturday and we had a lovely lunch at Hibiscus a great little vegetarian cafe which serves tasty and varied salads, vegan crepes and delicious vegan ice cream (pistachio is my favourite). John heads out tomorrow but hopefully he will be back soon...he hinted he would like to play the Vegetarian Food Fair next year....! And speaking of vegetables...ahem..this is our current tomato crop and they keep coming... There was a garden clean up this weekend and a lot of the weeds around the plot were removed as were a number of spider residences...when I went to the garden this morning though the resilient spiders had re-built! Go spiders!! I also scored some lovely yellow peppers courtesy of Tony our intrepid gardening enthusiast. Mille grazie!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Botos Brothers...

Well, the only jazz I have seen of late was the Botos Brothers at the Rex last night...but what jazz! Robi was really cooking with his brother Frank on drums and their visiting brother Lajos on bass and vocals. Robi is always a treat especially watching his facial expressions of delight as he makes eye contact with the audience and his brother. And no these are not the Botos brothers to the left, they are cute and cuddly but not nearly as talented as our Hungarian treasures. Haven't planned my jazz for the rest of the week, but I'm definitely looking forward to our old friend guitarist John Stowell visiting from Portland. He is playing with Don Thompson next Sunday, August 24th at Chalkers. The garden is still going crazy with the daily adventure of "find the ripe tomatoes" (under all the foliage) Two very tiny snails hitchiked home with the sorrel...I practiced snail rescue and released them in the gardens of our building downstairs. There was a large and complacent looking spider...if spiders can look complacent or smug, in one of the other garden plots. Said arachnid was likely smug because it had several plump victims in its web.... I noticed a new entrance to our plot at the back...the groundhog strike again...I flashed briefly on Bill Murray in "Caddyshack"....the critter is welcome to our excess of tomatoes if he/she is interested... See culprits pictured above...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

You never know who is reading you....

Wow! Thanks Demon Richard...if I had known you were reading I would have made a better effort on the photo of the Shuffle Demons...I am learning about all this high tech blogging bear with me....
On Monday, I intend to catch another of our "Jazzology" guests...well actually 2, Chris Butcher (trombone), Fabio Ragnelli (drums) and joining them will be wonderful bassist Matt Roberts at Gate 403 at 5 p.m. The Gate is a cozy friendly spot in Roncesvalles with great cocktail, beer and wine selections and of course good food. If you haven't checked it out this could be the day!

Thursday, August 7, 2008


First up, the Shuffle Demons at First Canadian Place. Introduced by Jazz FM's man about town Jaymz Bee, the Demons got off to a great start, playing their way onto the Waterfall stage (concern about the rain today moved the show indoors). As way of nourishment for the lunch crowd of course the Demons offered up "Cheese on Bread" and then the "controversial" tune, Canada's unofficial national anthem, as head demon Richard Underhill opined..."Hockey Night in Canada". He jokingly asked if anyone had a spare 2.5 million after they finished...citing fears of a lawsuit...:) The rousing finale which involved the band once more heading out into the audience, going up one escalator and down another completed the (too short) but energizing performance. It's been too long since I've seen them together!
This fun looking instrument is a Santur or dulcimer
Next...Persian music on offer down at Harbourfront's Music Garden...again the rain held off for an enthusiastic audience to be mesmerized by the sound of the santur (a dulcimer like instrument) and tombak performed by Pirouz Yousefian and Farzad Yousefian . This is the first time I've had the opportunity to hear music in this space but it's a beautiful garden space, based on the movements in ..........filled with native plants. Gorgeous!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tequila Bookworm

Kudos to Steve Ward for programming this cozy spot on Queen West with jazz.. Last night I saw Robin Jessome (trombone), Dan Fortin (bass) and Jesse Capon (drums)...and they sounded great....not doing the usual same old standards...which are lovely, but sometimes overworked...they played some Sun Ra and "Inchworm" to name but two tunes.... Of course, as always, more bodies in the audience would help. Robin is one of our former "Jazzology" guests and attends U of T. Tonight is Mike Ruby's quartet - which I'm anticipating. I caught him last week sitting in with Daniel Jamieson at Dominion on Queen. Joining him will be Pascal Leboeuf (NY) on piano, Dan Fortin again on bass and Adam Arruda..soon to be at the Brubeck Institute in California. Mike is also at the Rex tomorrow for the 9:30 show with the LeBoeuf brothers and Adam Arruda. I'll let you know how it goes tonight. Saw "Get Smart" today...a very enjoyable summer flick and I always like seeing Steve Carrell in action...:) On the weekend finally got to see "Dark Knight" and it sure is intense!! Heath Ledger of course gives a great's sad that it was his last...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The garden

Here is the amazingly lush and slightly weedy and chaotic garden. Gardens are like jazz, slightly unpredictable, nourishing, beautiful, surprising...there is new growth everytime you look, hidden treasures under the leaves.... The plants weave around each other like gorgeous solos but remain grounded in the whole...Wow...that was an extended analogy...