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...