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...