Monday, December 27, 2010

Festive Bread

Photos of my Festive Bread with Raisins and Pecans..yumm...still eating it...

Speaking of yummy - I now seem to have a major crush on Paul Giamatti after seeing "Barney's Version"...interesting. I think it stems from my longtime attraction for Jewish men - even though he is not Jewish - he plays a Jewish man.  Love Rosamund Pike as well - I've been a fan of hers for years...

Off to see "Secretariat" this afternoon. And by the way do check out "Loving Hut" recently opened on Richmond at Spadina - delish vegan food - there was even a treat of dragonfruit for us....we had the BBQ on bok choy and Mixed Veggies...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mary McKay

201012221912.jpg This slightly blurry image - from my cell phone is of Mary McKay and Adrean Farrugia at the Reservoir Lounge tonight. Mary is a wonderful, soulful singer who did a fantastic job on such standards as "Bye Bye Blackbird", "Misty" and "How Long Has This Been Going On?" - it's like that tune was written for her husky, sultry voice.

Mary came in to tape "Jazzology" a couple of seasons back - she is a graduate of Mohawk College. I wish her all the best - she often does R and B gigs around Hamilton. She has a recording out with Adrean as well - he is of course an instructor at Mohawk and it's always a treat to hear him...even on an out of tune's called "I'm Glad There is You".

Next gig is at Augusta House in Hamilton on December 31st - ooh New Years!

Check out her website - there is a much better picture of her there and samples of her singing.

I did take a photo of an amazing Christmas tree in behind the Toronto Dominion complex on Wellington - but d'oh! forgot to SAVE it...D'oh! It's constructed of "branches" and what seems like hundreds of lights - beautiful...a saving grace on these cold winter nights - colourful illumination.

Thoroughly enjoyed Bev Taft at Czehoski last night and hearing Miss Ailsa McCreary (my friend) do a number..."I Thought About You"'s hoping they use the space at the back for more jazz. People there is even a vegan special on most beneficial for moi - a mere hop, skip and a jump away.  Interesting expression that...perhaps I should try that sometime and see what the actual distance is...

Tomorrow - "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" - sure to be fabulous.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Jinglebones, Jinglebones, jingle all the way

Okay, so it doesn't have quite the same ring to it - but listen up - it's a gathering of trombone players organized by mon frere to celebrate the season and raise some funds and food for the Daily Bread Food Bank.

Plus, it's at the Rhino which has a vast, vast selection of beers - especially some lovely Yuletide varieties from across the pond.

That is the slightly annoyed Sam - the Jinglebones spokesmodel if you will and he certainly does speak that is, particularly when he is hungry.

It starts at around 7:30 ish....

Had a lovely meal at Alhambra in Bronte Village last night - Middle Eastern and North African food - amazing dips - with fava beans, home made pita bread and the most delicious couscous/tagine I've had - Vegetarian Casablanca it was called and indeed is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. I was there with the Veggies of Halton Peel. I am now trying to analyze how they made it - no tomato in evidence - possibly a saffron/fennel/cinnamon vegetable broth - veggies included artichokes, turnip, carrots, potatoes and chickpeas. The owners are lovely people as well - check it out if you're out that way - I understand it's often really, really's the link to the menu - it's not strictly veg....

Disappointed I can't see "Ramona and Beezus" this afternoon - that was supposed to be the showing at 1:30 downstairs - for me and all the other kids...oh well..hopefully "How to Train Your Dragon" is available tomorrow....

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Vincent Wolfe

Another sublime evening - this time Vincent Wolfe and trio at Chalkers - that's Mark Kieswetter on piano, Jordan O'Connor on bass and Ted Warren on drums.

Image courtesy of

Vincent was celebrating his newest release - "Dream Weaver" - artwork and cover by chanteuse, flautist and GNO founder,  Lisa Particelli who was meeting, greeting and selling CDs at the door. Vince has been away working on the cruise ship the Queen Mary II but what a joy to have him back on land and specifically Toronto once again.

There were a number of amusing anecdotes about ahem, knowing your place on the veddy British liner - including his rebellious act of selling his CDs from the stage..."it's just not done"...:) and trying to vault the castle walls to get a sandwich from the lounge - very "Upstairs, Downstairs".

How to describe his gorgeous tone - the lovechild of John Pizzarelli and Mel Torme? Weird but true - hearing is believing what a terrific vocalist he is...witness "I'm Glad There is You" - one of my faves, "Don't Let me Lonely Tonight" (yup, sweet baby James) and seasonal tunes like "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" and that Vince Guaraldi classic "Christmastime is Here". Everything goes down as smoothly as rum and eggnog - and just as rich.

Let's hope we get to hear some Vincent and soon. In the meantime check out his MySpace page...

Not as much can be said for service there last night - after an enthusiastic greeting from server and order of 2 glasses of wine with the promise of ordering something to eat later....(early dinner at Sadie's was still much in evidence - burrito if you must know) we were pretty much ignored for the next 2 hours...not good. Would this have happened at say, the Rex, I asked myself? Answer - NO.

Got a Facebook notice from singer Beverley Taft that she and her "Waxotic Players" featuring Nathan Hiltz on guitar and Mark Cashion on bass are in my 'hood on Tuesday from 8 - 11 - Czehoski on convenient....

On Wednesday night at the Reservoir - another of our former "Jazzology" guests - Mary McKay along with Adrean Farrugia from 7 - 9 p.m. Cool!

After a relaxing and invigorating class of Vinyasa Yoga, it was Peanut Butter Waffles for lunch - "Vegan Brunch" is the cookbook and later today out to Alhambra in Bronte for some Middle Eastern/Moroccan fare.

Shopping is mostly done - a major relief.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Marvellous Melissa

What a treat to hear Melissa Stylianou at the Homesmith Bar - where you can hear every delicate nuance of her vocals - and as always she picks wonderful material - Joni Mitchell's "Marci", Paul Simon's "Hearts and Bones" - that will be on her new album, an amazing blues, a poetic tune by someone named Edgar Mayer or Meyer...must get enlightened on that composer, Jerome Kern's "The Folks Who Live on the Hill" and "You Turned the Tables on Me" - which she related she sang at Bob DeAngelis' New Year's concert with the big band. I remember being so impressed with her adeptness - I had never heard her sing with a large ensemble before.

And her trio - the sensitive and talented Ted Quinlan on guitar and Andrew Downing on bass. Sublime! We miss you Melissa, now an NYC resident. I am so looking forward to her new release. She sold all 10 copies of her most recent release at the show last night...

Tonight is Vincent Wolfe's gig at Chalkers - what a great weekend!

Please visit - that's where this lovely photo comes from....I also noticed jazz photographer Greg King there last night...

A sample below of her lovely vocal stylings and knack of choosing great songs to cover.....

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mo at GNO

Thanks to Darko Babic who took this photo of me singing "Crazy" last night at GNO...whew...finally got over that hurdle - I am clutching the mic for dear life as you can see....oops...there goes some of Bill's sage advice about not doing that...well in my defense my heart was pounding like crazy.

Thanks to Jordan O'Connor, Norman Marshall Villeneuve and of course the incomparable Bill King for helping me out.

I was so thrilled my friend Ailsa McCreary showed up for moral support and my friend Judy Wineberg. Ilana Waldston was there too and I spotted Sophia Perlman as well.

To celebrate I bought some lovely sparkly earrings from Louisa...yay!

I'm told it gets easier and I feel I will get more confident..looking forward to the last vocal workshop of this session tonight - with special guest the delightful June Garber!! I feel sure with more practice and coaching I can only get better.

M.J and Darlene were amazing on "Here's to Life" and "Jingle Bell Rock" respectively...thanks to Brian for coming out and giving us moral support.

Making some "Kitchen Sink Biscotti" today from "Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar" .

Met Paul Morrison, pianist - Humber student and today's "Jazzology" guest - he works at Rawlicious - my fave raw restaurant and brought me a treat of macaroons - we had a great discussion about raw food and Hugh Fraser! 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Michael and Steven and Chris

It is taping week for me....went to a Michael Kaeshammer DVD taping at the Great Hall on Queen on a wintry Monday night - that was a blast - there was also lovely free mixed drinks courtesy of Hennessey. Had dinner with my friend Victoria at Ravi's Soups - Leek and Sunchoke for me - warming and delicious.

Photo from

This morning a taping at CBC of "Steven and Chris" - a new experience for me - going to a TV show taping and it was great - I was there with the Positive Fabulous Women led by the tireless and enthusiastic Katia! We were such a good group - in our red tops - they invited us back for a taping in the new year and will feature us - or rather hopefully Katia who is our guiding light. There were some prize giveaways and everyone got a grater - more fine or coarse.

On the schedule were home decor makeovers, financial advice from Gail Vaz-Oxlade and a delicious smelling curry...we just got the sight and smell of that one - however, it was lamb so I wouldn't have been able to eat it anyway - maybe the basmati rice though...which was prepared in the oven instead of stovetop - must try that sometime.

Tonight is GNO and my singing debut at Chalkers - along with the rest of my class from Bill's workshop - which he is continuing in January I might add...check out the 918 Bathurst schedule.  Perhaps if I have a nice glass of wine I might relax some - it will be nice to have the other classmates and Bill there. June Garber is paying a visit to us on our last night tomorrow. Louisa LaBarbera will also have bright shiny objects (i.e. jewellery) to distract me and others as well.

I will be in class but I urge you to check out Bill Mays at the Old Mill tomorrow night - P.J. Perry is part of the great band, after all. Also Dave Restivo is sitting in with Dan's band at Azure tomorrow night.

Friday night - Melissa Stylianou is in town at the Homesmith Bar - gonna trek out for that one and on Saturday night Vincent Wolfe is at Chalkers Pub.

The lovely and talented June Garber will drop in to our class great!

In the midst of the busy whirl - made some rugelach and checked out the Ostara Spa down the block - a polish change with Butter London's "Yummy mummy" a lovely grey/mauve and a skin care consult plus some munchies. They use the Dr. Renaud line - which I am now curious about.

Tomorrow is the last "Jazzology" taping before the new year....

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Our First Set - John MacLeod and his Rex Hotel Orchestra

Still looking for a great Christmas gift? How about the first CD by this stellar group of musicians - the finest in Toronto, in Canada and yes anywhere.

If you've ever been down to the Rex on the last Monday of the month for the 9:30 show you already know what a great big band this is...and here is recorded proof. John is known not only for his great trumpet and flugelhorn work but is an outstanding composer and arranger to boot. But being a modest soul, he would not describe himself with any of those accolades - that's for his admirers like me to "toot his horn" - among his credentials are being part of the famed Boss Brass, after all.

Filled with charming descriptions and anecdotes about each tune it features arrangements of standards and originals - opening with two of his own - "The Great Danes" and swinging into "B.S. Blues", plus one of my favourite arrangments the delightful "Monkey on the Roof" composed by pianist and fellow Humber instructor Gord Sheard.  Did I mention the band is filled with established and up and coming talent - check out this list: Al Kay, Terry Promane, David Braid, Brian O'Kane, Jon Challoner,  John Johnson, Perry White, Ted Warren, Jim Vivian....oh and Colin Murray - my brother (yes, shameless promotion). Special guest on the album and longtime friend and collaborator of John's - one of my favourite saxophonists and a great guy - Mike Murley.

The "album" photo - a beautiful sensitive shot was also taken by Al Kay - yes, trombonist Al Kay.

I see one of our former "Jazzology" guests, Rosanne Howell, assisted on the recording at Humber as well - great studio over there of which they can be justifiably proud.

John also gives much credit to Joni DeAngelis as Executive Producer - she along with her husband and flautist/saxophonist/clarinetist Bob have been longtime friends with John since their Humber days. It's always great to hear of those supportive, enduring relationships.

I am told that the first CD sale was to someone in New Orleans - a Jazz FM listener - who obviously has great taste!

So, Buy Canadian and hey if you keep it for yourself I won't tell.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Purple prose

A meditation on that hue, if you will. While following the labyrinth behind Eaton Centre with the PFW meetup on Sunday - the word and scent of lavender popped into my brain. I seem to be still obsessed with this royal colour these days...but think about all the names of the shades of this colour - they roll off the tongue beautifully...

Image from

Violet, lavender, plum, mauve, aubergine, lilac..pure poetry.

Lavender in the language of flowers means devotion and also is used as an oil for stress relief...hmmm...what does that tell me I wonder?

I am thinking of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" as my pick for class on Thursday and may give "In the Wee Small Hours" a could actually weave those two's looking a little festive outside these days what with our snowfall...

Went to see "Black Swan" - intense and Natalie Portman is devastating - not a upbeat feel good movie, I felt I was on the edge of my seat as they say for most of it.

Musically, Tom Szcesniak - accordionist extraordinaire is at Quotes on Friday and a reminder that there is always some great jazz at the Old Mill including the New Orleans Christmas of Jeremy Davenport on Monday. I will be taking in Mr. Michael Kaeshammer on that eveing.

My brother also reminds me that the annual trombone extravaganza "Jingle Bones" is fast approaching - December 20th to be exact - I believe again at the Rhino on Queen West...but will provide more deets as the kids say.

Back to mauve  - purchased a comfy and very flattering bamboo scoop neck, long sleeved tee at the One of a Kind Show - - based out of Vancouver. They had they amazing button wraps you could wear multiple ways - sorely tempted - may still order that online. Ideally for me all clothes would feel like pajamas.

Other craft shows I will check out - the one at the Distillery and also at 401 Richmond - always great finds there from the craftspeople who inhabit the building.

Oh and I am requested to plug John McLeod and the Rex Hotel Orchestra's new CD! Visit

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Gorgeous Tarot Cards

This gorgeous image is from the MAAT deck designed by Julie Cuccia-Watts - image courtesy of or you can visit the artists website

Rich colours and artistry in this deck which someone brought to my first ever Toronto Tarotists meeting last night - it usually happens the first Wednesday of the month from 6:30 on..bring your favourite deck(s), discuss symbolism, readings, Jung and have a great time. Visit for more info. Thanks to our small group last night - it was great getting back into Tarot - but now I covet this deck and I'm sure many more out there....

The artist is working on a Egyptian themed one too which judging by the images on the site also looks incredible.

Lovely latte again this morning at Barista in Liberty - you should go - wonderful panini, Italian chocolates and treats, super proprietor.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like.....

Yes, you can fill in the blank...caught a little of one of my all time favourite seasonal shows last night - of course Rudolph - I am such a sap - was it because I could relate to feeling like a misfit when I was younger or the comforting ending. Last night I had more sympathy for the Abominable Snowman - having all his teeth pulled - sheesh - a little extreme!

photo from

As we enter into the holiday season there are more and more concerts on the agenda and so you may say well, what is happening musically this month or even week Moreen? I will answer as best I can kids.

Thanks to Bullhorn Media - methinks I am going over to Liberty Bistro tomorrow night to take in up and coming chanteuse Barbara Lica - singer David Statham is there next week from 8 p.m. John McLeod is at "Quotes" on Friday with the CJQ, as always Mr. Dan and his trio at Azure.

Oh and go hear Coleman Tindsley, Josh Goodman and Julie McGregor at Gate 403 on Saturday  for the brunch slot - starting at noon - yummy.

I got an email from the lovely and talented Diana Panton advising of some of her upcoming gigs - one on December 12th for an hour long concert featuring Don Thompson and Reg Schwager - that's at St Phillips. Anglican Church in Etobicoke, 25 St. Phillips Road, Etobicoke - pay whatever you can and you should be generous considering the talented trio assembled there! Visit - she informs me that we can expect her 4th release recorded in August, next fall.

Festive wise - there is the Sound of Toronto concert, New Orleans style with Jeremy Davenport at the Old Mill on the 13th, and also the incomparable Bill Mays there on Thursday the 16th - alas, I will be in my last vocal workshop class. As Johnny Mathis sang "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve"? Why not celebrate either at Azure or the Old Mill - where Jazz FM's own Heather Bambrick will be a warbling.

Exciting news - raw food closer to home. It appears Rawlicious - my favourite raw food restaurant has now opened a location in Yorkville!!! 20 Cumberland Street -  All the best to them....more seasonal events to come...must dash off for facial at Lush and Lavish.

P.S. Saw Ori Dagan and June Garber at Ian Shaw's gig at the Old Mill on Monday. Got to chat with Ori about his trip to New York in December...seems he may be scoping it out for future use...

Friday, November 26, 2010 it's cold outside!

This was taken last March or so at the end of the winter season - a great buy from Lorne's Coats on Spadina.

Today I had to haul it out as it is rather nippy and windy here in T.O. - a bit of a shock to our extended fall - I am happy to report it is indeed cozy. It could be worse as reports from Alberta are in the minus territory - a friend said it was a HIGH of -17 I remember it well...remember, it's a dry cold. Should prove interesting for the Grey Cup on Sunday...go Riders!!

Speaking of fans of the Green and White, tonight it's hubby's birthday dinner at Veg Haven likely followed by some bluegrass as delivered by the Slocan Ramblers at Graffiti's in Kensington Market. I made a very rich cake from Ani Phyo's cookbook - "Ani's Raw Food Essentials" - coconut cake with "nutella" hazelnut sauce - decadent!

Also on the radar this weekend - Tony Monaco is in residence at Chalker's Pub tonight through Sunday - $30 and I'm looking forward to Norma Winstone and Fred Hersch at Glenn Gould after a day at the Whole Health Expo - helping out Jalanna at Soul Symbols.

I remind you that vocalist Pat Murray has her CD release tomorrow afternoon at the Rex - 3:30 and the last John McLeod and the Rex Hotel Orchestra on Monday night...of this year.

Stay warm...I am hoping to fit in some heated Hatha prior to dinner. Had an enlightening session with Linda Eales at All One Clinic this morning - some Body Talk therapy...reminds me I should also schedule some reflexology and on a beautification note - a haircut and facial.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Into the Mystic

With apologies to Van Morrison...but I had a wonderful tarot reading yesterday at Wonderworks on Harbord - I highly suggest booking an appointment with Monica on Mondays from 12 - 4 - very enlightening - in fact, I am thinking of dropping in to the Toronto Tarotists group on December 1 - bringing my deck, meeting new like minded souls and of course learning new perspectives on the fabled decks.... - also a great shop for many reasons - workshops, books, cards, crystals, oils...on and on....

I chose the Bohemia deck for my reading yesterday - very interesting and dark - this should be my role model - fiery and shining - stepping out on stage - that's me or what I aspire to with my singing. I am discovering it's okay to let my Leo out - thanks Nancy F - wise friend and counsellor and to quote Sly Stone...thankuformelettinmebemyselfagain. Also expressing myself - letting it out and not always be the nice girl, doing what is expected of me - I have been somewhat of the bird in the gilded cage but am asserting my independence more and trip to New York was an example of that - an impetuous yet very fulfilling excursion.

I have also taken up meditating - attempting to do so for at least 15 minutes a day and of course have added yoga a couple of times a week - all new things for me and things which nurture me.

Surprisingly my singing has the power to heal people and centre them - as does my That would be quite a gift.

I am practicing of course - "Where is Love" and I found a version of "Blame It On My Youth" on You Tube with Ol Blue Eyes - which is simple, straightforward and lovely.  I'm looking forward to Ian Shaw at The Old Mill on Monday and working at the Whole Life Expo on Saturday with Jalanna - there I hope to purchase some Lapis Lazuli jewellery which is also in aid of expressing myself, helping the throat chakra and opening my heart up more and trusting the universe

Today I made some chocolate chip cookies - which were more like chocolate and nut butter with oatmeal as the chocolate melted..oh well, it still tastes great - a recipe from Veg Times - "The heart healthiest chocolate cookies in the World".

Yesterday I went to an "Angel" by Thierry Mugler event - nibbles, lovely shower gel and body lotion samples and I think I may have won a door prize as the call display said they had phoned this morning when I was out but didn't leave a message...oh well, I know my Law of Attraction is working...:)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Whitney Ross Barris at Tranzac

Come wish her a happy birthday from 7:30 - 9:30 tonight. Whitney and Ailsa did a lovely duet on "Tis Autumn" last week at Ten Feet Tall.

Well, I continue to surprise myself and my nerves each week at the vocal workshop - I feel more confident all the time - last night I did great with "Crazy" and my assignment next week is "Blame It on My Youth"...or yute as Joe Pesci would say in one of my favourite movies "My Cousin Vinny". Also "Where is Love" for everyone - check out Irene Kral's glorious version - above. There are plans in the making - thanks to  Darlene - to corral us into singing at Girls Night Out the last Wednesday before our classes end....gulp.

Tomorrow is a trip to Brar Sweets - fabulous Indian buffet in Mississauga, visiting my dad in Welland - then Sunday it's the TVA AGM at Miles Nadal Community Centre - also the day of the annual Santa Claus Parade - wouldn't mind getting a glimpse of the Swarovski Crystal Swan - yes, I'm such a magpie.

Shout out to Diva D - radiant light to you - marvelous mermaid of N. Carolina!

Have to post the Irene Kral later as I must dash!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Cornucopia of Jazz

I've had a full plate of jazz these past few days - starting with Azure on Friday night - then Max Sennitt at Gate 403 followed on Saturday by my friend Ailsa McCreary's gig at Ten Feet Tall - in the audience were fellow vocalists Pat Murray and Whitney Ross-Barris. I overheard Pat planning an upcoming CD look forward to that.

Ailsa had the support of Mark Kieswetter on keys and Rod West on trumpet - she sounded as silky as usual and had a great 40's siren vibe with her pageboy haircut.

Last night I checked out Jake Koffman's smokin' quartet at Gate 403 - featuring Mikko Holden on a beautiful green guitar and one of our upcoming "Jazzology" guests - Derek Gray on drums,  before heading off to the Old Mill and the Sound of Toronto concert with the Jazz FM Youth Band and guest Bucky Pizzarelli. Whew. I think there may be something in the genes there with Jake - his grandfather was the great Moe Koffman after all.

I will post a blog about the concert on the Jazz FM website and be back later with more of what's going on musically around town...I also need to practice "Crazy" a la Patsy Cline for my vocal workshop this week.

I have tried out a couple of new heated classes at my studio, CORE and have enjoyed the results - Hatha yoga both times and a Pilates flow.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Feeling more confident

Well, each week that goes by I'm feeling more confident about singing in front of others - I'm relieved it gets easier - next week our assignment is "Crazy", one of my all time favourite tunes especially as immortalized by Patsy Cline - really, anything sung by Patsy!

Image courtesy of

I've also made more of a health commitment - walking, taking some heated flow classes offered by my studio CORE - that's at Queen and Augusta - hopefully more Hatha Yoga and gulp, pondering Boot Camp to really kick my efforts and butt into gear.

Tonight  - check out Chris Butcher with Kollage at Pero and Max Sennitt y Sus Amigos at Gate 403 - Max is not only great - he is an associate of Latin Grammy winner Alex Cuba's!

Remember Ailsa is at Ten Feet Tall tomorrow too. Last I checked only about $70,000 or so to go with our Fall Fundraising goal at Jazz FM 91!  Which means maybe no Sunday morning shift for moi...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Jazzology underway

Well, in our scheduling at least and that is a mjaor component - I'm looking forward to meeting all the students that's for sure. Also, we are more than halfway toward the fall fundraising goal for Jazz FM 91.1 - woo hoo!

Listening to Melissa Lauren yesterday, I realize I have a  ways to go in my singing and I think vocal lessons (private) are in my I am thinking of stealing "Dream a Little Dream" and possibly giving "Corcovado" a go...sorry Dan B. :) (Inside joke). I don't think I can ever speak badly of a performer again now knowing how much practice, talent and technique is involved - and that's only me in a room of a few people - I can't imagine a whole stadium full. It was great to hear Nathan Hiltz - phenomenal on guitar as usual....

This weekend I watched "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" - my brother Colin's DVD which he loaned - it's a hoot - I think the casting of Robert Morse in "Mad Men" is a sly little reference to his starring role in this movie...there's a tune called "I Believe in You" that I'm surprised I haven't heard vocalists doing before...hmmmm.....

Couple of upcoming gigs - my fellow classmate Julie McGregor has a spot at the Reservoir Lounge - this Wednesday starting at 6:30 and my friend Ailsa is at Ten Feet Tall with a trio which includes Mark Kieswetter on Saturday from 8 - 10 p.m. More to come....

Today's menu is Russian Cabbage Soup with Herb Garden Biscuits....

Friday, November 5, 2010

Melissa Stylianou - needs your support

Please help support this incredible New York based and Toronto born singer in her 4th album endeavour - Melissa is not only talented but has a great knack for choosing interesting material....time is of the essence - only about $3,000 to surpass the goal of $13,500 - if you love jazz and supporting great artists - now is the time to put your money where your mouth is - plus great incentives - at certain levels - homemade cookies, and the possibility of a coffee chat with her how amazing is that - plus credit, CDs, t-shirts on and on...

On the local scene - there is Quotes with Al Kay at 5, always Azure with Dan and the guys from 5:30 and tomorrow night at Chalkers the sublime Fern Lindzon starting at 6 p.m. Sunday it's the monthly Melissa musical brunch at Gate 403 with Melissa Lauren (one of my favourite singers) and later on Chris Butcher's group playing some Blue Note selections at 9 p.m.  Check out Ori Dagan up at Yonge and Erskine the same Sunday evening at Alize.....

Last night we did "Someone to Watch Over Me" and again "Cry Me A River" - with me croaking and seemingly out of tune - as usual over analzying - I trust this gets easier and I get more comfortable - Bill as always is great.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Just a wee reminder to go online at or call 1-800-811-2400 to keep jazz on the air - yes, it's Jazz FM's fall fundraising campaign - filled with fun and lots of fabulous prizes plus the warm, cozy feeling you get from supporting Canada's premier jazz station and a non profit one at that!

Musically - check out Gord Sheard and some Brazilian beats at China House tomorrow night - myself I would be there - but my Thursday evenings are committed for the next few weeks....

Jazzology is on the go and we are moving towards scheduling and taping in short order...I'm always thrilled to meet the new crop of, guests....

I have been very Martha these days - lots of cooking and baking - today Green Tea and Walnut Biscotti and I've made Espresso Brownies and Sesame Cookies with Port thus far this week. Today's menu is a Spiced Squash Soup and a raw Cabbage slaw - that one's from Ani Phyo's book - the soup from Jae Steele's "Ripe from Around Here"'s soup season. I'm also planning on a wonderful Russian Cabbage Soup - courtesy of Marion Kane and the Star and some Herbed Garden Biscuits - again Ms. Steele.

Some of the baked goods will and have made their way to Jazz FM - maybe some Peanut Butter Oatmeal sandwich cookies are in the future or some Banana Chocolate Chip muffins...hmmmm...

My friend Richard feels I should have a show called "Jazz and Nibbles" or "Nibbles and Jazz"....

Friday, October 29, 2010



I forgot to post pictures I took on my cell phone from this lovely new spot on the Upper East's what we had for lunch - I also had the cheesecake and we had veg drinks - myself the Go Green....
201010261358.jpg This is a seitan piccata like dish - on top of mashed potatoes and spinach...mmmm...and to the right below is Richard's lunch - a southern fried seitan sandwich with sweet potato fries.....
And Patti's lunch - a Thai tofu dish....

I was chatting with someone at Core studio this morning and they also know of "Rice to Riches" - I'm afraid that by exalting the Guest House Off Park's central location and great rates it will be even harder to get a booking!

We sang "Bye Bye Blackbird" at the vocal workshop last night and I got to try out "Cry Me a River" - a few people sang original tunes - way to go! Next week's homework is "Cry Me a River" and "Someone to Watch Over Me"....

Just finished reading the fabulous "Wolf Hall"....I can't wait for the sequel.....

Thursday, October 28, 2010

New York diet

Richard and Patti enjoying the"Man Made Mascarpone" with cherries rice pudding at Rice to Riches in the Lower East Side - 37 Spring Street - delish...yes, I fell off the wagon..thud. A store with only rice pudding - so New York...flavours year round like "Sex, Drugs and Rocky Road", "Fluent in French Toast" and seasonal delicousness like "Kiss my Anisette" , "The Secret Life of Pumpkin" "I'll Take Eggnog for $200 Alex"....sizes from diva to Moby - serves 10 and they deliver in the U.S. They have adorable take out containers - cute ovals of plastic whose seal is airtight and angled spoons.

Also incredibly clean washrooms...I'm just saying if you need to find them and we did - it's good to know....our fallback was Starbucks...

We also went to Shopsin's - which I had been warned about - the legendary crankiness and downright surlyness of the cook and owner Kenny and his fickle nature of who orders something he gets pissed off about - for Patti it was ordering the f*** ing turkey sandwich on a previous visit. It's a booth basically in a farmer's market and lo and behold - no fireworks - perhaps it was my calming Ralph Lauren purple sweater dress - the server even apologized about bringing me a full order instead of the half of the mac and cheese pancakes - when I go off the rails - I go big - it comes with syrup natch and a bottle of hot sauce. Interestingly there are a lot of veg options on the menu so he is less of a curmudgeon than Anthony Bourdain.

How to work off that lunch? Why more shopping - a visit to "Sur La Table" and twee Christmas tree ornaments - broccoli and fig - there were honey jars, ketchup bottles, cupcakes, bananas....the MoMa store and of course Moo Shoes where I got a Matt and Natt royal blue skinny belt, a Vegan guide to NY and petted the resident cat...I was tempted to buy shoes for hubby - but a) didn't know which style and b) afraid of getting the size wrong.

The night before we laid out our shopping haul on our beds - like a mini bazaar - needless to say I did not win that contest....
The walls have numerous sayings "Limit 500 rice puddings per customer" and "After eating do not drive or operate heavy machinery"....
This is mine - I think my plaid shoes are on the floor.....
These are Richard's acquisitions..

And the winner....Patti!! Though half of her display are gifts....:)

Back to a seemingly quiet Toronto, cooler temperatures - which are refreshing and a vocal workshop tonight - not sure how that will be with the cold....

A little plug for Nathan Hiltz at Joe Mama's on Sunday starting at 7 - yes boys and girls - Hallowe'en, going to Andrew Downing's gig for "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" at the TIFF Lightbox theatre and more musical happenings as they come across my virtual desk.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pee Wee, Century 21, the Morgan, the Frick and food.

If you work at Canada Customs read no further - I did some serious shopping at Century 21 both downtown and in Brooklyn - an adventurous subway ride out with Richard and Patti my roomies. The Brooklyn store is quieter, the downtown - near the WTC site - has more selection. 3 pairs of shoes - I'm just saying...

After a busy shopping day and a plum tea latte at Franchia - we later went out for Japanese food in Chelsea - prior to that we laid out our purchases on our beds - like shopping stalls - my stash paled in comparison I must say....

This morning an early trip to the Morgan, up to the V-Note on the Upper East Side for lunch - I will post photos of those - a nice little vegan spot on 1st avenue between 79th and 80th streets - white booths, darkl floors, lots of colourful pillows.  Then walking over to Madison to check out eyeglass frames at Chrome Hearts and ogle the windows of Ralph Lauren, Prada and Dior.

The Frick museum is captivating - the former abode of Henry Frick - steel magnate and former partner of the Carnegies - Gainsboroughs, Holbeins - it was interesting to see the portraits of the Thomas Cromwell and Thomas More since I am currently reading "Wolf Hall" - ornate furnishings...he apparently wanted to surround himself with art that was pleasing to look at every day....

After a walk through Central Park we headed to the Stephen Sondheim Theatre for the colourful extravaganza that was Pee Wee Herman's show (aka Paul Rubens) - great set - all the regulars were there - Chairy, Jambi, Miss Yvonne, Cowboy Carl......delightful. Apparently at new Pee Wee movie is in the works... Equally delightful was the meal at Tony di Napoli's place across the street - great basic Italian food - rigatoni with eggplant and one with vodka and tomatoes, an argula salad and some sangria plus yummy chewy bread.

Tomorrow is my last day so I will make it count......there is talk of the Shopsin's experience which I am to prepare myself for...

Monday, October 25, 2010

"Smoke" and "Blue Note"

The Holy Innocents Street Fair along Broadway south of 59 street towards Times Square - many many bargains - I think I have bought my weight in pashminas and scarves.  The street food of choice seemed to be arepas...

As night is falling - still shopping...well actually in between there was a jazz brunch with Lea DeLaria at "Smoke" she is a powerhouse vocalist and great comedian - with a wonderful young trio...her set included a couple of Bowie tunes - that's her next project, plus she has released a Christmas CD - the first one by a living jazz artist Warner has produced since the 60's. 

Later a cab ride over to Greenwich Village to catch Gary Burton at the Blue Note - awesome opening act with Melissa Aldana's quintet - an up and coming saxophonist - a lovely version of "My Foolish Heart" neighbours at the table an Englishman and his French wife, a musician from Brooklyn and his German friend visiting the U.S. for the first time since they met 20 years ago - they had a serious jazz club schedule. I found out about the Bar Next Door another jazz venue and that he knew the fabulous drummer, Edmonton born Owen Howard - it really is a small world in the jazz community.

Gary had an outstanding quartet with Antonio Sanchez on drums, Scott Colley on bass and guitar phenom Julian Loge. Julian had an exquisite intro to "My Funny Valentine" and other standout numbers were the rarely performed Monk tune "Light Blue". Another highlight - the original tune "Last Snow" by a Russian composer friend.

For their pre-emptive encore they did "Bag's Groove" because as Gary explained there was no where for them to go "offstage"....

The marquee  for the show I saw yesterday

Columbus Circle..
The facade of the City theatre? I think - gorgeous tilework - Arabic many great buildings in this city.

Today is Century 21 for designer discount shopping in Brooklyn!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Promises, promises....

Your typical New Yawk building..

Saw "Promises, Promises" today - so wonderful- Sean Hayes, the irrepressible Kristen Chenoweth and a exuberant and very funny Molly Shannon - so very 60's and Mad Men donchaknow...

Shopping at Macy's and a quick Vietnamese sandwich - lemongrass tofu on the run....

Times Square - where we got the tickets!

Fuerza Bruta

This gives you a vague idea of what happens in the second half of this multimedia experience I took in last night - people swimming across an incredibly resilient giant sheet of plastic suspended above the audience - who are's only an hour show. The picture is from the Guardian - UK.

They body surf across and slowly the "pool" is lowered to just above the audience so they can "touch" hands with the performers....

We are herded into a room and move around the space as directed by staff - initially a raised treadmill contraption is in the middle, a gentleman in a white suit walking, faster and faster, buffeted by wind and paper debris...people join him passing him, circling him, rolling off the end of the treadmill - there are chairs, tables....later dancing, breaking slabs of styrofoam which disperse numerous bits of shredded paper. Aerialists "running" and tumbling across a shiny mylar curtain circling the room. All accompanied by a steady drumming Argentinian/South American beat regulated by a DJ. A true New York experience - performance art.

Thank you Porter Airlines for a civilized flight experience and Super Shuttle for getting me safely and quickly into New York. Darlene the lady I spoke to at the Port Authority Info Desk was funny, warm and delightful.  You also know you're in "Joisey" by the Customs agent's accent! Yesterday a lovely lunch at Franchia - which is just around the corner from our 35th Street place - Guest House Off Park - huge room and cheap. Wandered over to Union Square and took in the Farmer's Market then shopped at ABC - a dizzying bazaar of a store - love the Terence Conran shop in the basement - bought a mushroom and a hedgehog Christmas tree ornament, Fish's Eddy and after the show a Cucumber Gimlet, nibbles and a glass of wine over on 3rd Avenue - Bar 29 - a great little cozy spot.

Today perhaps a matinee and some jazz...soon there will be shopping - Century 21!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lush and Lavish 2nd anniversary

Another fun party at Lush and Lavish on Ossington with complimentary hand massages, consultations for Eminence products (wonderful organic skin care - which also smells phenomenal), nibbles and goodie a draw - so far I have been lucky and won prizes twice!

I think this is the 2nd or possibly 3rd anniversary of this cozy salon - Trudy and Lyn the owners are always welcoming - Trudy even spied a previous post on my blog about their salon....

2 more sleeps to New York...very exciting.

By the way I don't recommend watching "The Tudors" before bed - at least with the latest episode - beheadings, torture and drawing and quartering....yikes....I thought the lighter "Being Erica" was on last night and also no "Glee"... oh well....

A vow today to step up exercise and try a more raw diet - not be a junk food vegan/vegetarian....

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bob Mintzer at Humber

It's always a treat as Denny Christianson said during his intro to have these arrangers/composers in residence visit every Fall at Humber...last night it was Bob Mintzer - 13 time Grammy nominee and once recipient who is also part a little group you may have heard of called "The Yellow Jackets"....

Bob provided a workout for the Faculty band as my brother Colin confided at intermission - including a little solo at the end of the  old chestnut "Christopher Columbus". Pat Labarbera shone on every solo occasion and it seems he has a major fan club in the students....who loudly cheered and whooped when he did...John McLeod provided a stellar trumpet reverie on the same tune.

The evening featured many Mintzer originals including the gospel inspired "Each Day" and lots of Afro Cuban inspired works like "In the 80's" and "Aha". Amazing band - Kirk MacDonald, William Karn, Brian O'Kane, Neil Swainson, Brian Dickinson and Mark Kelso to name a few...

A longtime New York Mintzer moved out to the coast a couple of years ago to occupy the chair in Jazz Studies at USC. It was indeed an honour for him to travel to Toronto as his travel schedule would make your head spin - he was most recently in Luxembourg, then back to the U.S., then here on a red eye, today to Salt Lake and then back to Europe...he must be racking up the frequent flyer miles!

Bob has written over 200 big band arrangements over his 34 year career and numerous other compositions - earning him 4 Grammy noms for his own big band projects...his touring schedule includes 20 workshops at year at post secondary schools of which of course Humber was one. He has worked with a number of musicians including Thad Jones, Buddy Rich, Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri.

I advise getting on Humber's mailing list to find out great upcoming concerts - which of course include student recitals - a great was nice to see Marsha Duggan my liaision for "Jazzology" last night too.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - Key to the Highway

We got to sing this last night at my first vocal workshop - "The Singer and the Song" with Bill King - there are about eight of us with varying levels of experience but now the fear has dissipated and I had an amazing time - lots of fun - everyone has a unique voice and take - for me this means everyone is special and Bill is a wonderful teacher and musician making everyone feel at ease...I am hoping to do either "Blame It on My Youth" or "Cry Me a River"....our group assignment for next week is "At Last" - I can assure Etta James she has nothing to worry about from me.  Darlene Stimson and Julie McGregor are the experienced ones and a lovely woman named Corena...I'm not sure I got that right - puts me in mind of Astrid Gilberto...

The great thing is that we are there to support each other and cheer each other on - emphasizing our particular gifts - I have already gotten praise - I blush....thank you Nancy, fellow neophyte - I apologize if I wasn't grateful - I assumed you were talking to Darlene...:)I have yet to introduce my song - Julie and Darlene did last night along with Corena - who chose the lovely "You Must Believe in Spring" - she appears to have a background in music...whereas I haven't read music since Festival Choir a few years back...

Bill has also related some of his experiences - assuring us that remembering lyrics is NOT easy - the big names even need help! I'm looking forward to next week's class.

In the meantime I leave you with the incredible Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee...

Bob Mintzer is at Humber College this evening with the faculty band - tickets are $20 at the door - reduced for students I believe. Also this weekend Cory Weeds is at the Rex for the late show both Saturday and Sunday.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Giving Thanks

I have many reasons to be grateful not just at the traditional Thanksgiving but all year round. Yesterday I had a lovely walk down by the lake - seeing flocks of geese, ducks and a beautiful pair of swans plus enjoying the fall colours...the photo down below is the ever growing vine across the community garden gate and the others taken on the Exhibition grounds.

Planning what I'm going to do in New York is also very exciting and will of course involve jazz - I'm looking at Gary Burton at the Blue Note and possibly Bill Charlap at the Village Vanguard....

Plus I haven't been to the revamped MoMa so that I will check out and of!! Right now I am also a little excited and also panicky about my upcoming vocal workshop series - I need to download charts - I haven't sort of read music since my days in choir in Mississauga which was a few years ago so....well, I know Bill King is a lovely person and I count on his patience as well as those in the class - I still may need to engage the services of a voice teacher privately.

If anyone has any further suggestions for amusements in New York feel free to add a comment or drop me a line as they say...

I will take a photo of the delish Pumpkin Pie with Pecan crust I made yesterday - thanks to Colleen Patrick Goudreau's  "Joy of Vegan Baking"....

Speaking of delectable - in this case aural treats - check out Ailsa McCreary and Mark Kieswetter next Monday, October 18th from 5 - 8  at Gate 403 - Ailsa is a gifted chanteuse and an award winning jam and jelly maker - so sweet all around. Bring lots of money for the tip jar! Trust me it will be worth the construction hassle on Roncesvalles...sigh, when is that ever going to be fixed?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bakeoff and Blanche

As in Vegan and Blanche - sadly no major awards this year but congratulations to all the successful entrants - they were some delicious contenders as always...

 My presentation of Scottish oatcakes above

Some of the other entrants - I quite like the monkeys below...

Dashing Dan's fun was truly fab!

Sampling plate....yummm....

My favourite entry in Nuit Blanche called "Auto Lamp" - it projected onto the surrounding buildings - low tech but beautiful!
As in Vegan and Nuit - sadly, no major awards this year - but still fun to be part of the event - congratulations to all the winners - after the fun and games - some great creations and presentations...

I am contemplating a trip to NYC - tagging along with my friend Richard and his friend Patti - it could mean going to see Pee Wee's production and also catching Gary Burton at the Blue Note...not to mention shopping....hmmm....

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dis and dat

Heading over to see Julia Cleveland at Gate 403 for the 5 - 8 slot.  China House has Tom Sczesniak - 7:30 I think, hopefully I spelled that correctly and The Paddock is presenting Jake Wilkinson starting at 10...

Tomorrow - well every Thursday - Saturday it's Dan Bodanis and the trio at Azure, Brian O'Kane sits in at Quotes from 5 p.m. with the CJQ, music in the cozy Homesmith bar from 7:30....

Sunday night - Adrean Farrugia is at Chalkers with guests Sophia Perlman and Pat LaBarbera - give Adrean moral support in his brave venture to quit smoking...

That's what I have assembled on the fly....of course the Totally Fabulous Vegan Bakeoff - year 3 is on Saturday and I promise pics...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Barista Espresso Bar in Liberty Village

Discovered a little gem this morning while running errands in Liberty Village - tucked into the "galleria" - why not be Italian - near the Brazenhead. The owner told me the spot has only been open 9 weeks.

The proprietor is certainly easy on the eyes - as for other kinds of feasting there is gelato, Italian chocolates, panini and foccacia, sandwiches and the creamiest soy latte I've had in Toronto - not to mention a cinnamon imprint in the shape of a coffee cup on the foam!

Cozy blue benches, wrought iron tables - one of which I sat at outside on the cobblestones and in the little protected walkway imagined I was back in Italia!

Read about and the charming family history and the "bar sport" which evolved from "Sartoria San Remo" - I assume a tailors shop on Clinton, south of College operated by his uncle and family - the family would pause for espresso - and extend this to their customers in warm Italian tradition - and eventually creating an espresso bar in the front - thus carrying on a tradition started by his "nonno" in Calabria before he left in the 1950s in search of a more prosperous life in Canada. He vowed to his "zio" Giuseppe to carry on the tradition after the place closed after 40 years in business.

Barista Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I am still recovering from the shock that my boss, Larry Green has left Jazz FM 91 as of yesterday. I had the pleasure of working with this incredible enthusiast and fount of jazz information for 4 seasons of "Jazzology" - what will it be like without him?

Larry has had a long career in the music business and 8 and a half years at the station, anchoring the Afternoon Drive slot...I will keep you posted on what's happening with the show I am proud to be a part of...all the best in your new endeavours, L - you taught me so much.

Walter Venafro is temporarily filling in...

Jacky Terrason was amazing last night - and who should be a table companion but the wonderful Fern Lindzon - we got to chat about the Buster Keaton project - she watched "Sherlock Junior" many, many times she confessed while writing the score...