Thursday, July 29, 2010

Showers and Sundar

Well, okay it ended up being a torrential downpour - but it was great while it lasted. The band members included Adrean Farrugia, Larnell Lewis and Mark Cashin.....not too shabby at all. Plus Sundar Viswanathan on sax and vocals - very very nice....something always seems to interfere with me and Sundar in concert last night was my second the third time should be the charm....

I first met him a couple of years ago when he came to drop off some CDs at Jazz FM.

Here are some more pics including a little girl enjoying the music i.e. dancing. There seemed to be an inordinate amount of curly haired girls there last night - including myself...

Next week it's Heather Bambrick at the Coxwell Parkette and I'm predicting sunny skies - on that particular evening I will be listening to Van Morrison at the Edmonton Folk Festival....woo hoo!

On a more serious note please check out the timely documentary - "No Country for Animals" produced by Global's Kevin Newman - I think you will find it if you check their website.

Overheard : a talented jazz duo - trumpet and bass at the corner of Queen and John - northwest corner - please give them some of your hard earned cash.

A little plug for Jean's Vegetarian Kitchen  - just west of Greenwood on the Danforth - if you haven't been you should go - I had some delicious Pad Thai before the concert PLUS they were playing Jazz FM!! There are many scrumptious options...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Reflections on jazz clubs

I often fantasize that if time travel were possible it would be great to go back to the late 40’s/ early 1950s in New York – think of the jazz scene! Miles, Dizzy, Bird, Billie, Monk, Horace and on and on – plus everything would be fresh and new, men in suits and chicly attired ladies….as far as the social progress and the smoke laden rooms – that would leave a lot to be desired but really musically…out of this world.

An American friend twigged this idea in my brain – why not write about how the club experience has changed over the years and since I wasn’t around back then, dear reader I am going to write what I know…I’m sure at that time it was probably not as acceptable to venture into these places on your own as a woman…thank goodness times have changed.
The first jazz club I went to wasn’t a club per se but the Palms Café – a downtown Edmonton restaurant where the music was presented by the Edmonton Jazz Society. Before long the society got their own permanent home - the Yardbird Suite – and that sort of spoiled me for whatever followed – great acts – local, national and international, run by enthusiastic people, staffed by volunteers – of which I was one – it was far from the tiny, smoke filled venues you see in the movies – in fact one of the most exciting developments back in the 80s was the Friday non smoking nights – seemed like such a radical idea at the time.Who would have thought it would become  standard? I also got used to very knowledgeable and appreciative audiences – being given “the glare” if you were conversing too loudly during the sets – except on blues nights and then it was pointless.  There was a real sense of ownership and the Yardbird not only survives but thrives to this day – numerous renovations and improvements happened – largely under the stewardship of the late great Paul Wilde and it’s one of the best places anywhere to listen.

As per usual a number of venues usually restaurants tried out the jazz policy with mixed success – Earl’s Tin Palace stood out for me because of the Jump Orchestra featuring one Tim Tamashiro – yes that Tim of CBC radio - was one and of course Sid Estrin’s place the Hotbox. When I  first moved to Toronto venerated places likel the Montreal Bistro were still in operation and of course the Top of the Senator – Lothar kept a strict “quiet” policy which I appreciated and wonderful visiting musicians and the Top of the Senator provided the New York style ambience in addition to the frequent American artists.  Before my time there was George’s Spaghetti House, The Colonial, Café des Copains – now the Reservoir Lounge, thankfully still programming jazz and in recent years  Opal Lounge – conveniently located in my neighbourhood but has come and  I’ve discovered Tequila Bookworm has discontinued their programming so I need to venture farther afield.

One of the questions you get asked at reception at Jazz FM is where can I go to hear some jazz downtown. The Rex is of course the go to spot – programming jazz  seven days a week, there is also Azure Lounge – Thursday thru Saturday, the Reservoir of Course and then  one has to make a bit of an excursion to Chalkers in North York, The Old Mill  in the west, ditto Gate 403, Ten Feet Tall in the east and many places which offer jazz a night or two a week.

What is missing for me – although I love our local and Canadian musicians, is the opportunity to hear some of the stellar  acts from further afield especially other than in a big concert hall or during festivals. I personally enjoy the intimate experience of the club – the chance to meet these great musicians plus there is also the opportunity in many cases for local musicians to perform with the visitor –enriching their experience. While I don’t miss the smoking - I really miss an attentive audience and a warm welcome. On a positive note it is nice to see a wide variety of people in the audiences including small children. Here’s hoping for some brave souls to test the waters again soon….

Readers I would love to hear your thoughts on the situation and the future of jazz clubs as well as your fond or even not so fond reminiscences of your favourite boites.

Monday, July 26, 2010

France Maisonneuve

I caught this enchanting young woman with exotic beauty while flipping around the channels last night - on French CBC I believe or TVO - the sound isn't the greatest but enjoy!

I also succumbed to the charms of this silky Michael Kors number at "Tressa" on Bloor Street West in the Kingsway - the store has many lovely item, gorgeous jewellery and a chic French proprietor! Thank you Victoria. I think it's very "Joan" of Mad Men.

Also reading the fascinating "All Over the Map" by one of my favourite writers, Laura Fraser - dealing with her incredible travels, exterior and interior...I am jealous of the exterior ones, for sure. We also share a love of food....

This afternoon a post about the evolution of the jazz club as per a suggestion made by Nancy....

Friday, July 23, 2010

Butterflies and Banjo

This creature was of course feeding on one of the butterfly bushes at the Toronto Music Garden where I went to hear Jamie Stone and his group last night - always a lovely experience listening to music down there.

Last night it was dance music from around the there were ladies who got up to dance to some Eastern European music I believe...Jamie joked that they had a couple more gigs if the ladies were available....that's Andrew Downing on bass....

And now my pretties - what is going on jazz wise...of course it's the Beaches International Jazz Festival taking over Queen Street East this weekend, also tomorrow night at the Cabaret series at the Young Centre - Miss Heather Bambrick - who enjoyed the chocolate zucchini bread I brought to Jazz FM yesterday...Dan and the boys at Azure...Julia Cleveland and her band at the Rex's late show on Monday and a series I just heard about on Wednesday evenings at the Coxwell Parkette on the Danforth - "Mosaic does Jazz" - I'm looking forward to July 28th and Sundar Viswanathan...visit for more details on upcoming performers.

Someday I will venture north from my downtown lair and check out China House's jazz offerings on Thursdays - the perfect start time of 7:30 and Chinese food - what could be better. This week's guest was Lenny Solomon and Mark Eisenmann usually holds court there - a little bird tells me Larry Green is doing the booking - and that man knows his I get brownie points, boss?

I am finally caught up on "Mad Men" - got my Don Draper fix and now will have to comfort myself with that...since I don't have AMC - dying to know what's next for Sterling - Cooper, Draper, Pryce and especially thrilled that Joan is back....I am thinking Sal will come onboard soon as well....

Monday, July 19, 2010

Zucchini Explosion

Two of the many zucchinis taking over the community garden plot these days. I am scouring cookbooks and the internet as to what to do with it's a Raw Zucchini Lasagna. Tomorrow Date and Zucchini Muffins....or they could be used as a weapon - like that old Alfred Hitchcock Presents with Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie on "Dallas) taking care of her hubby with a leg of lamb and then cooking it for the investigating officers....

Speaking of heavyweights - why not check out the Heavyweights Brass Band at the Painted Lady on Ossington tomorrow night?

I am currently reading "This Time Together" by Carol Burnett - a wonderful series of stories and anecdotes about her theatre career, life in New York, encounters with her idols and of course the treasured "Carol Burnett Show". I grew up watching her as I'm sure many did - loving especially her movie spoofs - of course, from a loving perspective as she was the biggest movie buff of all - she even worked as a movie usher in her younger years. Who can ever see "Gone with the Wind" again and not think about the dress made of curtains - complete with curtain rod thanks to the incredible Bob Mackie...or "Mildred Fierce" or "Sunset Boulevard" and her Nora Desmond? Or the intellectually but not posterior challenged Miss Wiggins?

There are many laugh out loud parts but also chapters of great poignancy. I think she would be a lovely lady to meet in person as kind, funny and warm as she always appeared on TV - and with that beautiful smile and infectious laugh!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Love, loss and what I wore

Yes, the glorious Andrea Martin as the unforgettable Edith Prickley. I know Andrea has moved on to many other roles since then - but who can forget that leopardskin coat and hat?!

Although there is a solid cast involved in this production the highlights belonged to Miss Martin - her fond reminiscence of a beloved shirt, equated to the end of a love affair and a hilarious rant about the futility of purses are what I'm talking about.

The show is anchored by the always fab Louise Pitre - she is from Welland, you know my home town - she narrates her character's story of her life in dresses.....and what a great ensemble - the Princess Warrior herself - Mary Walsh, veteran Sharron Matthews (who does a great exchange with Andrea on being fat vs. thin) and Paula Brancati - who offers one of the more poignant bits with her reflections on boots. Paula plays Jenny, Erica's best friend on one of my fave shows "Being Erica" I loved the rapid fire volleys extolling the colour black and bras exchanged by the cast.....

The house was half full this afternoon - so ladies get yourselves out for some very enjoyable theatre and support the sisters in Nora Ephron's relatable work....."Love, Loss and What I Wore".

Saturday, July 17, 2010

TKO for jazz at Tequila B.

Yes, sad to say no more jazz at Tequila Bookworm on Queen - Steve Ward sent around the announcement on Facebook that as of today he is no longer booking and er cooking at the Queen Street Establishment - having been dismissed after 2 years via email.

I loved the proximity of the place to where I live, the laid back vibe and the opportunity to hear up and comers....I'll keep you posted as to his potential new venue (s). As they say when a door closes...a window opens. Thanks Steve and all the best!

Friday, July 16, 2010 the proverbial bird

Like a beautiful dove as pictured here - yes, the trial is over - a fascinating experience and a great opportunity to see the workings of the justice system. I had a great panel to work alongside....but sincerely hope I don't ever have to do it again and that I never see the inside of a courtroom.

On to lighter more pleasant things - as I listen to the drone of the Indy going on a few blocks away.  What is happening in jazz around town you may ask....

Well today is the start of the annual Beaches Jazz Festival - with events at Woodbine Park including headliner Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue on Saturday evening - I had the opportunity to hear him at Rochester - so prepare to be funkified.  Tonight young chanteuse Sophie Berkal-Sarbit is accompanied by the wonderful Bill King - that is just a taste..there is a plethora of  "yutes" since I'm on a "My Cousin Vinny" vibe at the festival, including the Humber Community School Honours Jazz weekend is the pedestrian friendly stroll on Queen featuring many bands, playing al fresco for your wandering enjoyment and in Kew Gardens acts like the Griffith/Hiltz trio, Jane Bunnett and her Afro Cuban Blues Project, Dan Hill and Rockit 88 - and in keeping with the title of this post - it's FREE!!! For more info visit

Tonight at Pero Lounge on Bloor - one of my favourite trombone people Chris Butcher joins the legendary Archie Alleyne and Artie Roth at 9 ish...bonus - yummy Ethiopian food.

As usual Dan Bodanis and his trio hold court at Azure - with a visit scheduled by Mr Bee and the busload of jazz fans a.k.a. the Jazz FM Safari. And on a related note Bernie Senensky, pianist extraordinaire is accompanying the always smashing John Alcorn at the Young Centre's Cabaret series - the Garland -  tomorrow at 10 p.m.

I am going to a Restorative Yoga and Thai massage class at my studio - CORE tonight, should be fantastic!

Just finished reading the delightful
"The Elegance of the Hedgehog"
A bientot!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Legally Brunette

Not exactly what my judge looks like - not a male but yes, I have been selected for jury duty....and that's all I can say...mums the word....there is no Joe Pesci...yet though some of the court people are quite the comedians.

It may not be as seen on TV or films but it is my civic duty and thankfully short.

Owen Howard is at the Rex tonight and hopefully I will have more jazz news in the days to come.....going to Remys in Yorkville with the PFW gang tomorrow night and on Sunday to see "Love, Loss and What I Wore" at the Panasonic Theatre - looking forward to that!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Too Darn Hot!

In the words of the immortal Cole Porter - the temperature outside feels like 40 C....way too warm for me without the lovely Caribbean nearby and mangoes and rum punch...hmmmm....

A couple of jazz tidbits - Max Sennitt y Sus Amigos at Gate 403 demain a neuf heures
The Maisies at the Rex at 6:30, Sunday:Monsoon with Ingrid Jensen (!) at the Rex for the late show and the always dapper Dan Bodanis and his trio at Azure lounge at the Intercontinental.

Hard for me to conjure up too much enthusiasm these days as the heat is merciless - have not even investigated the Fringe....we are due for some cooling tomorrow. Meanwhile the garden is still flourishing.

I am seriously checking out "Dressing your Truth" - by Carol Tuttle after an article in the Toronto Star this week. Check it out for yourself - - where we are divided into 4 energy types according to the elements of chemistry if I remember correctly - Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen and Carbon - as types 1 - 4 - I know the oxygen and carbon ones are correct. I suspect I may be Type 2 - the soft flowing, muted one - we shall see. In her book and her more detailed online course there is more information about personality traits - including body language and then what clothes, colours and accessories work for your type...fascinating....

Monday, July 5, 2010

A-maze -ing

See left...the Heavyweights Brass Band - that's Jon Challoner on trumpet and Chris Butcher on trombone plus Rob Teehan on tuba or is it sousaphone? Rob's brother also provided vocals yesterday - the band did a walk over to Kensington and back before I got there and held court outside (by the patio) at Grossman's on Spadina.

Lest you think they are a strictly traditional New Orleans style jazz band - they do covers of....."Bad Romance" -uh huh, Lady Gaga, "Single Ladies" and in a nod to the eighties "Never Gonna Give You Up"...something Rick Astley never thought of I'm sure....Bobby Shew joined in on sax and a drummer from the Phillipines plus a crazy street person/cyclist who took it upon himself to dance around the band members with high kicks no less and do some emceeing - ah the joys of outdoor performances.
Check them out at the Painted Lady July 20th....

Earlier I had been to see Melissa Lauren at Gate 403 with Nathan Hiltz on guitar - always a pleasure - she even cycled from downtown for her gig.

Perhaps a break from jazz is in order for a few days....just a comment on the title of the blog, after taking in some Chaka Khan and with some time to kill before Christian Scott at the Hard Rock Cafe - hmmm.....standing room if you must know - not for me after one set - I walked the labyrinth behind Eaton's Centre and I'm telling you it's a peculiar sensation....

Once you enter you become completely focused on following the path to it's conclusion - blocking out the world, very Zen, almost a trance like state. And once you start on the path - people materialize from nowhere to try out the maze as well...spooky. It's as if the energy draws them in...until some teenagers go running across it and break the spell....

Harvesting greens and yesterday a zucchini - wow, grocery store size - seems amazing it's producing already.

I wonder if Paul McCartney knew about labryrinths when he wrote "Maybe I'm amazed" - or is that in fact the source of the word - the hypnotic powers of the maze...whoa, that's enough philosophizing for one day.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Le Petit Jardin

How my garden grows - don't know if you can see the zucchini that ate Toronto in threatens to take over the bed...greens are all coming along nicely as are the tomatoes....

A busy week going to the shows - Roy Hargrove started out a hot mess and finally gelled in the 4th tune - I wanted to say "Who are you and what have you done with Roy?"

My pick so far this festival was the Dave Douglas and Keystone show with the film "Spark of Being" - otherworldly - I have blogged about it for Jazz FM.

Saw Chris Butcher and Roberto Occhipinti last night at Roy's show. Chris has a gig with the Heavyweights at Grossman's on Sunday at 2 - just FYI - perhaps there will be some Justin Bieber reinterpretations, one never knows....

Also on Sunday Melissa Lauren at Gate 403 from 12 - 3 and Whitney Ross- Barris from 5 - 8. Check out Jazz FM's website to see what I 've been up to.....

Tomorrow is Christian Scott at the Hard Rock Cafe - maybe a little of the free concert with Chaka Khan and Macy Gray...I do want to hear "Tell Me Somethin' Good" - tell me, tell me, tell me. Cyndi Lauper is also at Queen's Park the same night as part of the Pride festivities - it will be a relief to have a celebratory march for a change.