Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cops and shops

A final image I hope from the debacle that was the G20 summit here in T.O.

I was delayed slightly in getting to Nathan Phillips Square last night for the Stanley Clarke concert. I thought uh oh, as I got close to University on Queen - and sure enough another protest. Thinking I was clever I went north and crossed at the earliest opportunity to find they had veered over the City Hall. Damn.

I blended in with the group as they passed through the vendor area and loved my friend Judy's comment to them about producing such a great turnout which earned her a great laugh from the crowd.

You can read about the concert on the Jazz FM blog...earlier I had gone up to the shops at Don Mills - part of the jazz festival programming and free  and was lured by the siren call of Bath and Body Works....good thing I didn't hit Murale. Interesting spot - fabulous McEwan gourmet grocery.....here's some pics of Montreal's  Eric St. Laurent on guitar and guest vocalist Justin Bacchus - you can usually hear Justin at the Rex doing lots of great r and b and soul on Saturday evenings....

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Greetings from the War Zone

So much for Toronto the Good. I guess we can't say we are boring any more....would that we could.

Suffice to say it was eerie walking over to the Herbie Hancock concert - University devoid of vehicles, a line of police along King Street. I avoided Queen entirely due to burning police car and acts of vandalism/broken glass.

You could sense relief in the audience of those brave souls (and volunteers) who made it down to Nathan Phillips - thank you Herbie and Brandi for soothing us with music. Hopefully the David Sanborn/Joey D is less eventful tonight at Koerner....only in a musical sense should it be eventful....

I had to take a brief detour along the alley north of Queen just east of Spadina last night...well me a few other people  - then couldn't proceed south for a few minutes - Queen blocked off between Spadina and Bathurst - but I made it home safely - if I had wanted to get into a club on King Street I feel there would not have been a problem.

I still can't believe this is my city - predictable, peaceful Toronto. I am angry as are many, that some anarchists hijacked the largely peaceful protests - if you are so brave - why cover your faces - that shows you are cowards really. I guess I just don't get how destruction helps anyone...

Here's hoping cooler heads prevail today.

Friday, June 25, 2010

More about the J than the G

Yes all the attendant folderal with the Summit is now going on - oddly quiet in downtown Toronto....I am concerned more with covering the jazz festival here for the next 7 days or so, in fact every night of the upcoming week except Friday. Tonight I start with Nikki Yanofsky - young vocal phenom of Olympic anthem fame "I Believe"...

Those blogs will appear on Jazz FM. For now I will scribble a  bit about my visit to Farm Sanctuary near Watkins Glen, New York - it was a day trip as part of the Rochester excursion. It turned out to be quite cool and overcast but the drive down was very lush and hilly.

The first photo is of the resident cat who like to tag along on the tours. The tours start in the "People Barn" with a short video about the horrific lives these animals are subject to and the lucky few who are rescued by the good folks at Farm Sanctuary - founded by Gene Baur - who is always popular at the TVA Food Fair in the fall.

Above is husband Fraser with Dino - a wonderfully friendly turkey - I had no idea turkeys bred for food were white! He had a blue head that felt like a warm blackberry....we also visited cows, sheep, goats - who were very cute and pigs. I never expected that a turkey would be my favourite - his feathers are incredibly soft and he loves to display them for visitors...our guide said the turkey was probably his favourite too.

There was a little girl along on our tour with her mom and she was very excited about petting everyone - even the chickens.

After our wonderful visit which included buying vegan snacks - cookies and peanut butter pretzels and souvenirs at the gift shop we went for lunch at the Grist Mill at the suggestion of the volunteer - delicious portobello mushroom sandwich and tempeh reuben - that was in Burnett - just north east of Watkins Glen - a quaint spot.

Please visit them if you are in the area - you will certainly be touched on many levels. There is also a sanctuary in California and many other smaller places here in Ontario, across Canada and the U.S. - please support them for their noble work.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Rochester Veg Eats

Jazz aside, a girl has got to eat and in particular this girl was looking for veg friendly places.

I did some research on the internet beforehand and found Veg Planet to be very helpful - also suggestions from a staff member at Abundance Co-op - the charming Natural Oasis - a lovely menu containing some Ethiopian dishes and other vegan items - the menu new every day...mushroom risotto, an interesting turnip and green dish - very fresh - like salad and not what I was expecting at all, supplemented by injera and a very welcoming vibe.

There was also He's Chinese which we discovered just down the street from the Plaza - they had faux meat dishes and lots of veg selection. We had a mixed veg and tofu dish and a "chicken" and broccoli - so our greens and veggies requirement was met.

Rochester has some fun neighbourhoods - on Park Avenue the food was outstanding - a recommendation from the clerk at Craft Company No. 6 -  purchased 2 great bowls with kind of a frost like glaze and a kaleidoscope -meant Mediterranean at Sinbad's - falafel, dolmas, a lovely spinach salad, tabbouleh, hummous and baba ganoush enjoyed on their outdoor patio.

Can you believe there is a vegan bakery - yep - Eco Bella in the South Wedge neighbourhood. The owner of the bakery started her career when people raved about her desserts at dinner parties and after a stint at the farmer's market - voila - a retail shop. The South Wedge is a cool area - an up and coming one....

If I had one minor complaint about the festival it was the lack of vegan options from the street vendors....just a thought. I think a juice bar would be a big hit....we did find lots of veg options at Golden Port Dim Sum - a sit down restaurant on East Avenue - so great selection there including....green onion cake...woo hoo.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Return from Rochester

The sign at the Rochester Plaza in case you hadn't figured out the festival was going on...all Rochesterians are definitely proud of their jazz fest and rightly so.

Below the all imporant and magical Club Pass......

Next year is #10 - hard to believe this event is still so young! Last night of the fest was not so jam packed - saw 2 acts which were really more folky and almost verging on Bjork territory for one....

The most delightful surprises were the Nordic jazz series - Samuel Hallkvist and "Center", Viktoria Tolstoy and especially the fantabulous Palle Mikkelborg - words fail but I do try and sum it up on the Jazz FM blog post....

Highlights - Joe Locke and Kenny Washington and Steve Turre's band, divine vocals of Janet Planet, the wonderfully loopy and danceable hillbilly jazz/bluegrass of the Hackensaw Boys ..more tomorrow and also a posting on my visit to Farm Sanctuary.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lovely Lilies

These beauties I acquired for the low, low price of  $3.98 downstairs at the Kitchen Table. Stargazers are possibly my favourite flower - along with Gerbera Daisies, Lilacs, Lily of the Valley.

My friend and trusted advisor Nancy has offered some food for thought about my blog - that is to say to take a more intellectual approach and research some people and questions about jazz more.

I am your guide on the jazz journey - come along and gaze with me in childlike wonder - absorbing music and magic.

I am fired up with ideas as per some of her suggestions including - What makes Billie Holiday special? What has changed with Jazz venues then and now - including how musicians lifestyles have changed, a timeline of jazz from trad to fusion are among the topics I will explore more indepth.

Today it's about bananas - I made some banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting - a la Elvis and a banana bread - yes I had a big package of overripe ones so there ya go.

Marc Myer's Jazz Wax Insider posed another puzzler via Maclean's magazine - with all the programming of boomer rock acts like Moody Blues in Montreal - is it really a jazz festival? Not to get all picky and purist on you - and hey I grew up with some of the  music they're programming - but success with these festivals can be a blessing and a curse.

As an introvert I am not a fan of huge crowded areas - that's my idea of a nightmare not a celebration so I have actually avoided places like Montreal for years - more of a public spectacle than about the music.  I was spoiled with the brilliant programming of Marc Vasey for a number of years in Edmonton and small crowds - which creates the dilemma - do we have more narrow parameters on jazz or more open to attract more funding and hence listeners?

I applaud that people would like to come out for the event and hope they stay to enjoy the music...that being said I know that many people come out for the festival who don't support live music the rest of the year - when musicians really need it. I have it on good authority that's what happens in Montreal. Live music of all types should be fostered all year round - it may not be as glamourous - well I think it is - but it's vital.

I am pretty open to new music and different genres - I repeat that I'm more enamoured of the music and less about the spectacle. I prefer it to be a more intimate experience.

Only a few more sleeps to the Rochester Festival - which I think is a fine example of a happy medium in many areas. I'm particularly looking forward to the jazz jams in the host hotel and the many clubs and venues.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Making scents of life

I am trying out new fragrances these days - today it's "Si" by Lolita Lempicka - perhaps this will help me say yes to life? I know I always say yes to jazz and there are several events to choose from this week.

Tonight Justin Gray leads the Jazz Jam at the Rex and this just arrived in my inbox - a group of young Berklee musicians at Trane tomorrow night - 7:30 start - called Rodney Rocques and the Jazz Full Riders - joining them are Toronto's Sam Dickinson - who just happens to be pianist Brian Dickinson's offspring and Tutti Druyan on vocals. I'm sure there will be lots of high energy and great playing.

Thursday I am stopping by Azure - and breaking news, folks - Mr. Bee is bringing the Jazz Safari there on Saturday...woo hoo! Aubrey Dale holds court at the Rex later that evening and then on Friday there is the ever popular Quotes with Dave McMurdo and Mike Malone featured with the CJQ and westwards at the Old Mill it's Fern Lindzon on piano and vocals along with Mike Murley and Andrew Downing.

Saturday - Tequila Bookworm has Chris Chekan (Chris is a York U student and ahem "Jazzology") star and has Andew Pacheco and Rob Cappelletto with him - also visitors to the station.

Sunday - Chris Butcher brings some trombone goodness to Gate 403 for the 9 p.m. show which features his fellow Humber grads Justin Gray and Todd Pentney.

Your perfumed pal.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Brenda Lewis - "Jazzlike"

I have often heard of the salons of the 19th century where patrons would have musicians perform in their homes and last night I got to experience this enchanting phenomenon at a home (Cafe Ingrid :) in the Upper Beaches where apple cider, cookies, salsa and tortilla chips and even a visit from a friendly cat named Rupert were in evidence. A lovely walk up from Queen Street through the leafy neighbourhoods was relaxing. Guests strolled out the back onto the patio and down to the edge of a verdant ravine.

The evening was for Brenda's brand new CD release "Jazzlike" and said chanteuse - whom I met through that great unifier/connector - Facebook was accompanied by guitarist Margaret Stowe (who reminded me sometimes of Amos Garrett). Lots of great material filling the cozy living room - a few of my faves  - Chris Whiteley's "Second Look",  a 1920s era gem "You Took Advantage of Me" and the poignant "Falling in Love Again". Brenda had an interesting take on Neil Young's "One Love Can Break Your Heart" - drawing comparison to Bacharach/David works - and by golly it's true....you can almost hear Dionne warbling it.

I hope this is a continuing trend in the community - intimate, appreciate gatherings - why even I toyed with the idea - figuring I could squeeze a couple of dozen into my place and we have a piano even! Hmmmm....

If you live in the Guelph vicinity, Brenda and Margaret will be at Borealis Grille next Saturday June 12th at 8:30 p.m.

Check out Brenda's website http://www.brendalewis.ca/ and her myspace page...

This afternoon after the rain subsided a visit up to Artscape's Wychwood Barns was in order to partake of the Compassion Week Marketplace - which included vendors, a thought provoking photo exhibits, scrumptious nibbles - from Green Earth, Veggie Paradise and Pink Hart Diner  - had a mini turkey dinner - dumplings in gravy and some sugar cookies - the proprietor who manages the fun Rancho Relaxo and is responsible for veganizing some of their offerings - is looking for a restaurant space - with patio. I picked up some Cupcakes from The Cupcake Tree - succumbing to temptation .

Missed Jae Steele again - drat - maybe I will have to seek her out through my naturopath as she is a consulting nutrition person for her - I think I may make Morning Glory muffins from her new cookbook "Ripe from Around Here" demain.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Paisley Jura

Rather than the delightful sounds of Paisley Jura I am currently listening to hammering and renovation noises from the upstairs neighbours - ah the joys of highrise living...I may seek refuge at Jimmy's soon.

I was very pleased to discover this talented singer/bassist/pianist to the left at Yonge Dundas Square on Wednesday - so much so I bought her CD - " Time in Between". She performs at Cameron House on Monday nights at 9. Also in the band were Kevin Barrett on guitar and banjo -yes, banjo! - and Anthony Michelli on drums, along with a wonderful musician whose name I didn't catch       on keyboards and trombone - interesting instrumentation - there was even a school choir, whom Paisley accompanies. Isn't that a great name, Paisley?

Visit http://www.paisleyjura.com/ or her myspace page. I particularly liked "In the Garden" and "Sweetness".   Although this is mostly jazz I do love some folk particularly if it is offbeat and as compelling as this artist. She has been getting some radio play from CBC as I understand things.....

Azure tonight and I'm looking forward to Brenda Lewis' soiree/CD release tomorrow - I understand she has the discs hot off the presses so to speak....

Yours truly has booked her trip to Edmonton for Folk Fest in August - can't wait!

Reading a fascinating thriller called "Angelology" right now - where the celestial beings are not so benevolent as we may believe....

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Gray matter

 As in Justin and Derek - two talented young musicians who play bass and drums respectively and happen to be brothers. Justin of course taped "Jazzology" a couple of years ago and perhaps Derek will soon - he is a student of Humber his older brother's alma mater.

I'll get to the handsome blue furry gentleman to the left later....

Justin is hosting the jazz jam sessions this month at the Rex and has some stellar players lined up. He and Derek are teaming up for a gig tomorrow night at Trane - starting at 8 p.m.

Mike Murley is at Quotes this Friday with the CJQ, Dan Bodanis and his magical socks and trio at Azure this weekend as per usual, my friend Brenda Lewis is having an exclusive, invite only launch of her brand spanking new CD "Jazzlike" on Saturday - and I can't wait! Brenda is a fellow folkie and banjophile. I'll be sure to take photos and report back.

Less than 2 weeks until the Rochester Jazz Fest excursion and I can't wait - I will be blogging for Jazz FM.

Garden notes - I planted the tomatoes kindly given to me by super gardener friend Ailsa - Great White (dah dun, dah dun, da da da da da da da dadanah! - "Jaws" theme), Moldovan Green and Black Cherry....

I discovered the Green Beanery in my hood - King near Bathurst, north side - a branch of the cafe on Bloor and Bathurst and purchased some Bali "Paradise Valley" and Malabar Monsoon - ooh exotic.....

Made some Date Coconut Cookies from Jae's "Get it Ripe"....num num. Speaking of which saw a funny bit last night on "Cake Boss" or Bawss as they say - Buddy made a cake for the Sesame Street gang and a giant cookie for Cookie Monster - whose furry jaw dropped and said "me never seen anything so beautiful"! Then he proceeded to leave with his cookie, ignoring the cake and party! Love Cookie Monster!!

Yes, I am a big kid - it's the Aries in me - had an interesting discussion about being Aries at CORE Cardio Reformer Pilates at noon with two fellow Aries - Jill and the always energetic and lovable Amber. Agreed - we are impatient, enthusiastic and don't get it when others aren't and always full of wonder!