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...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Buster and Fern

I had the amazing experience of going to the Bell Lightbox Theatre this afternoon to see a screening of Buster Keaton's comic gem "Sherlock Junior" - the icing on the cake was Fern Lindzon's sextet and the fact that she composed the score to accompany the film.

The score was impeccable with lovely cymbals washes during a scene by the ocean to traffic bleating with the clarinet and accordian. Way to go, Fern - perfect klezmer and jazz influenced scoring!

We often forget in our day and age of being bombarded by digital special effects where it all began and how wonderfully effective well thought out staging can be...the fascinating conceit of a film within a film not to mention Keaton's incredibly creative sequences - riding on the handlebars of a motorcycle through all kinds of terrain and numerous obstacles, the dream scenario when his character "enters" a film and cycles through a variety of locations - united by his clever physical comedy segues.

The nail baiting billiard playing scene is worth it alone...I wonder how many times they shot that one....

Keaton is a fascinating character  - apparently one film bio has been made about him - maybe it's time for an update? He was born to entertain - pretty much growing up in vaudeville and a highly successful, if often child endangering family act at that. He had an active career up until his death - returning to stage after a souring experience with MGM and a serious battle with alcoholism - appeared on TV and in films.

The apocraphyal story about how he got his nickname was after Houdini witness him falling down some stairs backstage with nary a scratch and deemed that it was a real "buster" - a successful fall that didn't injure seriously.  Apparently he didn't realize until years later he had broken his neck when he was doused by a torrent of water from the watertower in "Sherlock Junior" - the force pushing him down onto the railroad track....

I suggest getting to know more about him....

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Greens Vegetarian Restaurant on Dundas West

Breaking news, another veg restaurant in the Kensington area is finally open. I was sad to see Ken and his family move out from the old Full Moon location but very thrilled to see another veg place taking over.

I have been anticipating this for weeks - carefully observing the renovations going on. Due to the cleanse I had the # C1 - mixed veggies and D5 - rice noodles with mushrooms and veggies...simple but delish!

They have many choices on the menu - from the usual gluten, spring rolls, taro rolls, both veggie and mushroom dumplings, soups, noodles in soups....pad thai, and some szechuan dishes - kung pao "chicken" , fried rice dishes, brown rice and couple of intriguing dishes  - Shanghai Style Fried Rice Cakes and get this - "Monk Kidney in Black Bean Sauce" - I'm not sure if that's a typo or something lost in translation.  There is also a rice combo special with either : mixed vegetables, Szechuan bean curd or assorted gluten - and includes a spring roll hot and sour soup, rice and coffee or Hong Kong Style tea for $8.99!!

I don't believe they are strictly vegan as there are egg noodles listed on the menu and a tofu and egg dish - I guess you need to ask to be sure. Oh, and there is also Bubble Tea - hopefully this is made with soy milk...

All in all an exciting development - they are open Tuesday through Sunday 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. closed Mondays.

Call 416 603 3337

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Breaking out of the comfort zone

Which is such a lovely place to be especially in pajamas with a warm cuppa and good book. Gulp - I have sent in my application for Bill King's workshops at 918 Bathurst starting in October. I've been threatening forever to take the plunge and try my hand and singing - writing about it is I will literally put my money where my mouth is....Bill assures me it's very fun.

Thanks for the push Darlene! Darlene advises I should blog about it - true, it will be good material.

And what is happening music wise you may ask...well, it's time for the annual Coltrane tribute - anchored by tenor men Kirk McDonald and Pat Labarbera - starting tomorrow (Friday) for 3 nights at the Rex. Tonight if you can squeeze it in - Pat is with Mark Eisenman, Terry Clarke and Neil Swainson up at the China House - which I still need to investigate...because Larry Green is programming....

Vocalist Pat Murray has Dave Restivo and George Koller - fine company at the Duke of York tonight at 9....for something completely different check out Fern Lindzon's group at the new Bell Lightbox Theatre on Sunday - 4 performances to Buster Keaton's "Sherlock Junior" - starting at 11 a.m.

Paul Read is at the Old Mill tomorrow at 7:30 and Gord Sheard at Lula lounge at 8 p.m.

That hunka burnin love Ori Dagan does a tribute to Elvis on Sunday at 9 at George's Play - 504 Church Street.  As always - Azure every Thursday, friday and Saturday with Dan and the guys - Dave Restivo is on the keys tomorrow and Anthony Michelli sitting in on drums.

A very happy birthday to Fay Olson, publicist, friend,  jazz promoter and supporter - one might say she is happily married to it. Right Don? Which reminds me Vern Dorge is sitting in with his saxophone with the CJQ tomorrow at Quotes.

Day 4 of the cleanse - okay so far but the scent of coffee sure is tantalizing not to mention the torture of so many food ads on TV! 6 more days to go - no wheat, coffee, citrus,chocolate, soy, nuts, fried or processed other words - no fun.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Passion for purple

Yes, like Prince at one time I am currently obsessed with many shades of that royal colour - I believe it is the colour of higher consciousness - the third eye chakra if I'm not mistaken. Part of my adoration of this colour is that it seems to very "in" right now - one of the autumn shades I'm seeing a lot in stores and fashion magazines.

Not a great shot of one of my new outfits - check out Bergstrom originals if you want to see more great locally designed clothing  - the skirt is called "Grace Kelly" - how cool is that? The top and skirt are super comfortable, the skirt is more of a pencil silhouette with a flared bottom - kind of Joan/Mad Men - a lovely subtle plum plaid with a gold and taupe weave and the belt is tied like an obi....Christina does amazing work, what can I say -

I also have the wonderful 60's inspired "Mystify" top.

Found some more jersey tops at Winners yesterday too plus drooling over items on the Anthropologie website....will purple shoes be next? My fingernails are lilac and toes a dusty plum. See? Obsessed.

I have even gone so far as to purchase Twilight Woods - in a purple package, natch from Bath and Body Works - that store is another story - too many gorgeous scents and a lipstick in the new Dior fall range in mauve. It's also one of the tones in my palate from the "Dressing Your Truth" course...I'm going to mix in some grey and perhaps navy/greyed navy in there to mix it up. I am also all about the soft, flowing fabrics and fashion again is in tune with my mood.

Once again, throughly enjoyed Kurt Elling - the blog post should be up on Jazz FM in a couple of days - he is always a revelation - and it's the fourth time I've seen him...I wonder if he's ever done or considered a collaboration with Roberta Gambarini...those two together would be sublime.

How great to be at Quotes again last night - every Friday from 5 - 8 with the CJQ (that's the Canadian Jazz Quartet) - it's a warm and welcoming hang as they say and last night's guest was the incomparable Russ Little - ooh, there's me gushing about trombone players again. Afterwards a visit to Dan, Steve and Bernie at Azure - Bernie was certainly having fun with the keyboard mixes - even adding some vocals in...

Tonight if you read this in time - check out the delightful and very witty one Whitney Ross-Barris at Ten Feet Tall.

I caught "Easy A" yesterday afternoon - great "teen" flick that grownups can enjoy too - loved husky voiced Emma Stone - great dialogue - oh, the things you wish you had thought of to say in high school. Great supporting cast - Amanda Byrne as the insufferable evangelical, the incandescent Patricia Clarkson and adorable Stanley Tucci are great as her parents and for extra credit - Lisa Kudrow as the guidance counsellor and always sharp Thomas Haden Church as Olive's beloved English teacher.

P.S. Got my Frishberg ticket!

Mauve Mo

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Frishberg is coming!!!!

Finally, after many years I may get to see Mr. Frishberg again- one of my favourite songwriters ever - "Peel Me a Grape", "My Attorney Bernie", "Blizzard of Lies" and the delightful "I'm Hip" name a few....

He is scheduled to be part of Jazz FM's new Songwriter's series which begins on October 11th  with the legendary Alan Bergman accompanied by the equally legendary Gene Bertoncini - Alan along with wife Marilyn wrote such classics as "The Way we Were" and a personal favourite - "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life"?

Frishberg's erstwhile songwriting partner - one Bob Dorough is slated for January 19th....Bob has been a welcome visitor to Toronto in recent years and is known for such tunes as "Devil May Care".

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Veg Food Fair 2010

Another successful Food Fair - lots of info, lots of yummy eats - I was working at the Info table answering questions and giving out programs and the brand new Veg Directory for this year plus I got to assist at the cooking demo - "Iron Chef" competition between the very "hot" competitors - Howard Dubrovsky of L.A.B. and Doug McNish of Raw Aura .

Here they are in action - the secret ingredient was apples - Howard won with a lovely Israeli couscous concoction which featured sauteed mushrooms, apples, apples soaked in apple cider vinegar and a wonderful ingredient he referred to as "ground dates" - I believe they are "wild food" found in marshes - they taste like dates but have a marshmallow consistency.

We also had the pleasure of hosting one of the speakers - Jonathan Balcombe - raised in Toronto but now living in D.C. - he speaks to the emotional side of animals - his most recent book is called
Second Nature....
I encourage you to check it out.

In the meantime I sampled some delicious ice cream from "Coconut Bliss", ate cookies from "Sweets from the Earth", dined at Green Earth and Full Moon, among others...

I'm excited to be going to hear Kurt Elling on Thursday night and I should let you know that of course the "Old Mill" has an ongoing series of great musicians lined up for the fall and winter seasons....brrr...winter....haven't quite got my mind around the wearing socks and closed in shoes concept.

I also had a lovely time at the Taste of the Kingsway - which included shopping with my friend Victoria from Jazz FM - she is a bad influence, but in a good way for my fashion side...ha ha. Visited "Carriage Trade" and "Taissa" as well as "Sims O Nine" - getting a lovely purple frilly scarf, navy clogs and a black and white "rose" to come....

More jazz later - provided the wrist holds up....

P.S. For better or worse I'm now on Twitter - so does that make me a twit? I'm reminded of the "Upper Class Twit of the Year" skit on Monty Python...:)

On a final note just finished reading the excellent novel "The Help"....couldn't put it down....

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Franken tomato

I call this frankenfood - notice the simulated stitching - it's a mystery tomato - because I can't find the tag - it is from a plant my friend Ailsa gave me earlier in the season - it will for certain be tasty, though - no mystery there!

Witness my new haircut courtesy of the wonderful Charlotte at Parlour on Ossington - she understands curly hair! It will be my more up to date profile photo....

I had a great time at the Rex last night - thanks to the Heavyweights Brass Band - who did versions of "Beat It" and "Groove is in the Heart"!! - tuba works amazingly as a bass line...loved Rob's composition of "Heavyweight" too - an enthusiastic crowd.

Tomorrow is Melissa Lauren at the Reservoir - come out and show your support....

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bunny Beck - Sound Tapestries

This CD arrived in the mail today - and I have been listening this morning - a very pleasant, soothing experience - really as advertised a beautiful sound tapestry - letting the music flow over me - many great tunes solo and with the trio - I particularly enjoyed "Meditation" and it's Latin vibe, the buoyant "When Your Lover has Gone" and a poignant "Pete Kelly's Blues".  And I loved the watery feeling teal and green cover -  during the dog days of summer - this is as cool and refreshing as a waterfall. As I understand it Bunny is a fixture on the New York scene - having played at a variety of venues and has studied with the like of Reinaldo Gomez in Cuba, Sonny Bravo and the legendary Harold Mabern. She intially trained as a classical pianist - thanks to Michele Mortenson at Parma Recordings - check out

I have been curtailing my entries due to a problem with my right wrist - like a flare up of carpal tunnel - so I am wearing a wrist support have seen my Osteopath - the wonderful Janet Walker and employed some castor oil packs as per the advice of my new naturopath Dana Lerman at Pure Intent in Kensington - she is a warm, understanding individual - and very thorough - I am also sampling some nutritive tea mixture and Dandelion Root tea. Her space that she shares with other therapists is cozy, welcoming and a little oasis in the city...looking forward to working with her. I filled out a food diary and a comprehensive questionnaire before going - with a focus on Ayurvedic - I know I am strongly Pitta with a bit of Kapha  - so the hot weather is not my favourite thing.

As for jazz - I just got the Sound of Jazz line up and am looking forward to hearing Ian Shaw again as well as Kellylee Evans' Nina Simone tribute. Upcoming - the Heavyweights Brass Band at the Rex on Labour Day and Melissa Lauren is at the Reservoir next Wednesday from 7 - 9 p.m. - be sure and hang around for Bradley and the Bouncers afterwards. I keep saying I need to go down to the Reservoir and it's finally time to get off my duff and do it.

I am also contemplating taking voice lessons with a jazz emphasis of course - though I would be starting from scratch....who knows I may get brave enough for "Girls' Night Out".
Also am making good on meditating - I'm finding the book " Lovingkindness - the Revolutionary Art of Happiness" - to be really helpful - I feel rested and rejuvenated after my 20 minutes.

Below is the "Choose Your Path" Cardigan  - which seems appropriate for me right now....
Visited "Anthropologie" and bought a couple of items in Yorkville - a gorgeous flowing brown sweater and a purple wrap dress - trying to incorporate the "Dressing Your Truth" wisdom - I got my colour cards today...woo hoo.