Thursday, December 29, 2011

Spring Fling

Yes, we can dream can't we.? And yes, that isn't a typo
that is my name on the poster with that illustrious group - I have committed to singing a number...gulp. Exciting stuff and I'm very grateful to Julie McGregor, the organizer and a fine vocalist and artist to boot.  As you can see on the bill are Maureen Kennedy (one of my fave people), Laura Marks, Neil Kristian Parent and jazz poet Chris Hercules - accompanied by the legendary Norm Amadio and bassist extraordinaire Duncan Hopkins...

Mark the date - March 10th at Trane Studio..8 p.m., $15 Cover - I believe I have the link to Trane on the right side of my blog..if not I will put it there.

Saw two wonderful movies over the season - the delightful "The Artist" a homage to the silent film era - it's a silent film and I bet you are saying "Subtitles? Is she kidding me"? Trust me you'll be totally engrossed - the leads are wonderful Jean Dujardin as Georges Valentin and Berenice Bejo as ingenue Peppy Miller. Charming.

The other movie selection was more traditional Hollywood seasonal blockbuster - the action packed "Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol"...will have you on the edge of your seat - particularly the scenes on the side of the hotel in Dubai..yikes.

What am I doing New Year's Eve? Well, there will be jazz involved and also delicious food at the new Rawlicious on Bloor (2122 Bloor Street West)...a great way to usher in the New Year, a five course meal and jazz...will post pics later.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New do

IMG_1454.jpgAs the New Year approaches it is a time for resolutions and one of my lately was to return to my former hairstylist Sandro - proprietor of Pop Hair on Richmond..and I'm soooo glad I did...what was I thinking, flirting with all these other brief affairs all over town...many a good salon but nothing quite gelled...I don't know what made me leave in the first place....the grass is always greener I guess.

He is looking very trim, having taken the vegetarian plunge and as acerbic and funny as ever. Let this be a lesson to me...I had to look good to go into the holiday season and most importantly "Jingle Bones' tonight.!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Vegan Brunch at Windsor Arms and "Jingle Bones"

IMG_4100.jpgIf you're looking for a new vegan brunch alternative and an elegant one at that - check out the latest one at the Windsor Arms, designed by vegan chef extraordinaire Doug McNish. The service is stellar, very old world graciousness and how great is it to have a separate vegan menu.

Ideal spot for those with visitors from out of town veg or not as they also have the standard brunch buffet.
We chose "The Works" - above, which features black bean chili, toast with a sunflower seed "butter", sauteed potatoes, tempeh bacon and one of the best tofu scrambles in the city - this one featured mushrooms and greens.

On the sweeter side we also tried the Stuffed French Toast, which to me was more like dessert - I'm a fan of french toast erring on the savory end of things..I would suggest the sauce on the side (a la "When Harry Men Sally") to tone down the sugar factor.


Would love to try the Vegan Benedict next time and also the bowls - Granola or Chia....kudos to the Windsor Arms for introducing this lovely option for weekend brunch.  I understand they also have a vegan menu for the evening?

Well, boys and girls it's also that festive time of year which means the annual "Jingle Bones" - featuring a stocking full of trombone players - playing your holiday favourites, a great gift for those who have been naughty or nice. This year it's at the Victory Cafe on 581 Markham Street starting at 7:30 p.m. Speaking of nice, contributions are appreciated in support of  Camp Oochigeas - where my niece Fran and countless others kids have enjoyed wonderful summers as victors over the dreaded "C" word.

Hey, it even got mentioned in "The Globe and Mail" you wouldn't want to seem uncool would you and aside from that if you don't attend we may have to send out the Sam cat to track you down and sit on you.
Jingle Bones

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Sorry, I was remiss in not telling you about this amazing free concert at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre today at noon - in a word, these guys are astounding - with selections ranging from Joni Mitchell's "River" to the jaunty opener "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps" to the closer "Ain't That a Kick in the Head" - the quartet delighted a packed house and we mere mortals were allowed to sing along on that Cab Calloway chestnut "Minnie the Moocher".

They have just released their fourth CD "Cool Yule" - just in time for holiday gifting...unless you decide to keep it for go and hear them live when you get the chance....


Also this morning some Christmas shopping was in order and some for moi, bien sur. I love the natural products from Vauxhall Gardens since I tried the soothing Comfrey Cream - great for your aches and pains (it's anti-inflammatory) at the Liberty Village Market. Adele, the creator is a bubbly dynamo of enthusiasm for herbs and natural skin and body care...what is even better of course is that the flowers and herbs are locally grown, harvested and whipped into sumptuous creations...I adore her "Crowning Glory" hair conditioner - it really nourishes your scalp and provides great body and volume plus today I purchased "Precious Elixir" a lovely day cream and a serum, plus a few gifts. I also love the fact that she wraps your purchase in a vintage printed toile tissue and includes an information sheet about the product.

You can next catch her at Sick Kids hospital on Tuesday February 13th in the atrium Farmer's Market. Her website is www.peaceloveand - sweet.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Baking with Gwyneth

IMG_5074.jpgBecause of course, we chat on the phone and internet and exchange recipes....not. Yes, I shamelessly wrote that headline to get your attention.  I tried out a recipe printed recently in the Toronto Star - apparently she lets her kids have these at breakfast  - they are made with barley flour, finely chopped almonds, oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt and jam filling...yum.

December always brings out the baking frenzy - it harkens back to my days as a university student - when I would procrastinate during exams and do Christmas baking.  I have already made some Gingerbread Biscotti, some Green Tea and Walnut Biscotti and now these....soon Shortbread, maybe some Chocolate Cherry cookeis, some Pecan Sandies and the piece de resistance a Holiday Bread - stuffed with dried fruits and nuts.  Some years I have even made that Tuscan treat - Panforte - which I fell in love with in Sienna...sort of compressed spicy fruitcake - therefore easily portable in luggage.

It would be nice to spend Christmas in Italy or in Europe...and I was thinking even New York as I watched "Elf" the other night...Buon Natale.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Humber Studio Jazz Ensemble with strings....

IMG_4285.jpgI do love going to the free noon hour concerts at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre - especially when there is jazz!

Under the very capable direction of Denny Christianson this was a great way to spend an overcast Tuesday lunch hour. How lovely to have the addition of strings to the group - especially since I spied one of our upcoming "Jazzology" guests - Aline Homzy on lead violin - she did a splendid job on the intro to Denny's arrangement of that Miles Davis classic "All Blues" - a highly charged, grooving start to the program. Also featured on that were guitarist Sam Dickinson (who I remembered from the Humber Community Outreach program) and saxophonist Andrew Greenwood.

In fact, I saw a few familiar names from my scheduling on the performer's list - one Kyle Woodard who had a sax solo on Gord Sheard's "Seven Doors" - of course with a Brazilian influence and with Gord conducting and I spied Soren Nissen on bass and PJ Anderson in the trombone section....The arrangements "Angel Eyes" and "Lush Life" featured the sinfully rich vocals of Lydia Persaud and special appearance by Shirantha Beddage on tenor - normally I hear him on baritone as do most people - but Denny related that he not only doubles but triples and quadruples....including piano. Mr. Beddage was exquisite on "My Foolish Heart". And of course it does my heart good as always to hear the "kids".

Coming up this week - a dilemma - to go and hear the lovely Maureen Kennedy at the Home Smith Bar on Friday or Ben Dietschi et al at the Miles Nadal Centre on Bloor and Spadina - he will be there with the Spectrum String Quartet, Patrick Reid, Colin Power, David Occhipinti and Andrew Downing.

Tomorrow night - Mary McKay is at the Reservoir from 7 p.m. and on Thursday Norman Marshall Villeneuve has a trio at Cool Runnings - which is at 2708 Danforth Avenue.

I have heard rumours of another jazz venue opening....the Savoy? I'll keep you posted.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Shopping at the One of a Kind and Whole Health Expo

A busy past few days - what with venturing up to Edo on Eglinton to hear Brenda Lewis with Tony Quarrington and Brendan Davis - nice cozy spot and yummy Japanese food. I love how "Zen" it is when you venture downstairs to the washroom - they have made a tranquil space/sitting area with chairs! How I would love to go to Japan! There are a number of veg options on the menu too which is great. Sadly, this type of excursion takes me an hour - I'm such a downtowner now - if I can't walk there in under 45 - I'm less interested.

I hope to venture out to the Old Mill tonight to hear Claire Martin - again the distance it gets expensive to go and hear jazz in such a venue when you are kind of expected to order something to eat or drink - and not at Rex prices either. Speaking of which caught some of Danny Marks on Saturday afternoon while we were showing our old friend Al Stoski around town - he was here from Edmonton - having been working up in Kincardine for a number of months. Al was and is a valued member of the Edmonton Jazz Society - as a volunteer and board member...we went to the St. Lawrence and Kensington Markets - St. Lawrence is our friend Norma's neighbourhood market as Kensington is ours...

Last Friday night was a shopping overload at the "One of a Kind" Show - got another great dress from "Desserts and Skirts" - you can find her clothing at Fresh Collective here (she also designs "Precious Pink" jewellery which I also lurve). My dress is a funky's a little hard to see the sleeves which are about 3/4 length - but it is made of a slinky comfy fabric.


While working at the Whole Health Expo I bought a cool cloth scarf necklace from Jalanna at Soul Symbols  - where I was assisting on Sunday...they came in black, grey, brown and beige - very Type 2!


And for the piece de resistance a gorgeous amethyst necklace from Jalanna as well - I had so many compliments while I was wearing it - that I had to purchase it! The photo doesn't do it justice...

 While walking around sampling food and checking out the vendors on my breaks I had a makeup touch up at Earth Lab Cosmetics - and got a lovely lipgloss - Sugar Plum which feels luxurious and mascara which is soft, doesn't smudge or flake - their line is mineral based. There were also some skin care products but I was rushing around trying to fit stuff in - including a green smoothie from Cruda and lunch from King's Cafe - I couldn't check out the entire line - but you can  There is also someone in town who cares the line - - Kym Klapp is the proprietor.

While at St. Lawrence Market, Norma introduced me to some supersoft scarves and wraps which are woven by a women's co-operative in Guatemala..if that is the correct Central American country. Beautiful colours and feel velvety soft...I will have to return for those. The stall is on the south side of Front - smack dab near the entrance to the market.

Today I'm making some raw spring rolls from "Becoming Raw" and maybe a Mushroom Soup from "Garden of Vegan"...I made some kale chips earlier...still working on the raw thing but getting more inspired all the time.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mike Field Jazz Quintet

image003.jpgAs part of the Nu Jazz Festival, trumpeter and composer Mike Field and his quintet take the stage at Waterfalls Indian Tapas Restaurant in Kensington Market this Friday November 18th at 303 August Avenue. This venue serves up great Indian food and as a superb side dish some spicy jazz.

Mike is releasing his latest CD "Ashes" featuring traditional style jazz originals. Joining Mike are bassist Carlie Howell, Dave Chan on drums, Paul Metcalfe on tenor sax and Teri Parker on piano (Matt Newton is featured pianist on the recording).

He has been a fixture of the local scene and toured nationally and internationally. Check out for more info on his activities.

Also on this weekend - on Saturday February 19th - why not munch on some great pizza at the Magic Oven on Queen East and enjoy the trio of Archie Alleyne, Dave Young and one of my favourite trombone players - Chris Butcher. From 8 p.m. - 11 p.m. 360 Queen Street East.

It appears this is a series that Archie has put together - the following weekend is Kollage! November 26th.

Readers, I realize I have been lax with my blogging - I think it is the darkening days of autumn winter and need to get motivated and also to get more income to finance a growing wanderlust - that is to say if you know of anyone wanting to hire a creative, intelligent and diligent soul like me - please let me know!. Trying to work on my spiritual side these days by doing daily tarot readings and reading some inspiring people like Louise Hay and Wayne Dyer..also remembering to be grateful.

Speaking of grateful - why not call 1-800-811-2400 or go online at and support a great radio station? Plus have the opportunity to win fabulous prizes...someone won a trip to Cuba today...or you can just have a toasty feeling in your heart - either way you win!

I had my first outing to a Psychic Brunch on Sunday - they're usually held I think the 3rd Sunday of the month - for $29 - you can get a 15 minute reading from a choice of readers plus a $5 voucher for your meal - Jayne was very insightful for me - encouraged me to believe in my own gifts and have more faith in myself! Nourishment all around. They are held at Clinton's on Bloor and also in Cabbagetown - The Flying Beaver Pubaret - check out the details on

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cool Kids

I just got an email from Adam Fielding, Mohawk grad and former "Jazzology" guest about an upcoming gig this weekend. Saturday in fact at Mitzi's Sister on 1554 Queen West from 10 p.m. - 1 .a.m. $5 Cover

The band is covering Motown and R and B and features the fabulous vocals of Mary McKay (another "Jazzology" guest and Mohawk grad - plus Johnny McKay, Clark Johnston, Adam Fielding and special guests - sounds like a fun night in Parkdale.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Vegan Butter Tarts

From the  Vegan Dad blog....these are awesome - I made some this morning and tested one - delectable. As he says if you aren't Canadian you don't know the obsession with Butter Tarts. I did sub a little maple syrup for the sugar. I was initially sceptical about them firming up...but I am a believer!

P.S. This is his photo - mine look a little chunkier...

He has many more great recipes to check out and even a cookbook. Click below for the recipe and his blog...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Nancy White

I thought I would just re-print this verbatim from an email - yes that national treasure, Nancy White is doing a concert on November 11th - along with her daughter Suzy Wilde putting in a guest appearance - I met Suzy when she came in to tape "Jazzology" as a Humber Student.

If you haven't been living in a cave and have listened to CBC at all over the past few decades you have heard her witty songs - how can you not love someone who wrote about Leonard Cohen never going to bring her groceries a hilarious Leonard Cohen know I'm a folk fan as well as jazz addict....both healthy addictions.

Speaking of healthy tried another fall special at "Rawlicious" - carmelized onions on herb and onion flatbread and nut cheese - loved it..and I don't like onions...must figure out how to do those at home..perhaps they are dehydrated?

   I'm Suzy Wilde's mom, among other things, and I asked her if she knew anyone who might be interested in the cabaret show
I'm doing Nov.11, and she gave me the email addresses of the smartest people she knows.  I hope you don't mind, and I promise I won't share them with anyone, except maybe those people from overseas who offer such excellent investment opportunities.
   Suzy's doing a guest spot in the show, by the way. She's singing a very saucy Christmas song which she performed TO GREAT ACLAIM at one of her Humber recitals!

 I've got a birthday coming up, and it's on such a spooky date - 11-11-11 --
that I'm scared to be alone. So - I'm doing a show as part of Robert Missen's Green Door Cabaret series. I've got the brilliant young Acadian musician Ghislain Aucoin accompanying me on the piano grande, and he'll sing a few numbers as well - including "May I Offer My Umbrella", an "Anne and Gilbert" song that's rarely taken out of the show. I'll do some edgy-but-not-bitter novelty numbers, some more serious stuff, maybe something in Spanish, surely something in French.
Maybe I'll bring my banjo, maybe Ghislain will bring an accordion. It could happen. We might even play these instruments. We did a three week run at summer's end in a show called "Honestly", in Victoria-by-the-Sea, P.E.I., so we're in good shape. By the way, the rumour about drinks going for $11 to honour the date (11-11-11) is just a rumour. Not to worry. The rumour that this may be my last show ever is also just a rumour, and a nasty one at that. Nevertheless, it is a rare occurrence, and worth catching. What if I burst into flames and you missed it? Could you forgive yourself? I doubt it!  - sincerely yours, Nancy White

DETAILS: GREEN DOOR CABARET at the Lower Ossington Theatre. 100A Ossington, between Dundas and Queen.
NOV.11, 2011. 8 P.M. (DOORS 7.30)
TICKETS: $20 (arts workers), $25, general admission, $30, reserved. 915-6747

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I'm still here

 I see the blog posts have been getting fewer so I must remedy this poster from Rob Fekete- a wonderful pianist and former "Jazzology" guest - U of T graduate studies - so if you're in St. Catherines - be sure to drop in...Rob's Quartet is there on October 27th..

Still continuing with the raw food thing or trying my best - had wine and pasta last night - which did not agree with my body at all - very congested...I think there's definitely something to eating a more pure diet...I'm working on it...oh and the doughnut didn't help either. What was enjoyable and satisfying was the Dan Bodanis trio...ahhh....

Today it's a CD release party for Del Dako - a long lost recording - starts at 3:30 at the Pilot - this could also be incentive to go to Rawlicious again since it's next door...:)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Going Green

As in "raw" - yes, I am hereby making a commitment to go raw for a while to see how I feel and hopefully release some weight. I find Kristen's book to be very helpful and of course she has a blog as well.

I'm reading a number of books - like Kris Carr's "Crazy Sexy Diet", Tonya Zavasta's books, Ani Phyo and the "I Am Grateful" cookbook and "Raw Revolution" far so's only been two days but onward and upward. I want to try for a couple of weeks and then continue on...there may be some slips at some point but Kristen says not to worry!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Art adventure

IMG_6836.jpg This is one of the fun experiences last night at a Toronto Arts and Cultured meetup - the 1st Thursday Art and Design plus Food on West Queen West. This was the exhibition at the Edward Day Gallery -  - part of the ImagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival - media artist Edward Lewis created numerous touch screen installations involving words and poetry...addictive.

We also visited the Museum of Contemporary Art -with a thought provoking show called " Patria O Libertad - On Patriotism, Immigration and Populism" - various video installations - particularly liked the German artist who painted her country's flag on the wall - and was dressed to match - at the end blending into the wall - an interesting statement. Also "Double Bubble" - the artist posing as a widow and uttering quotes from both sides during the war in Bosnia. Chilling.

For satiation we also visited "Nadege" for a complimentary macaron for which they are justifiably famous...the display cases themselves are works of art.

We then visited Gaspard - a new clothing store at 913 Queen Street West, operated by Jennifer Halchuk and Richard Lyle who create the clothing line "Mercy" - they hope to bring a European silhouette and mindset to Queen - more loose, less structured, less tight....

We also learned a bit about my neighbourhood - delightful - I can't wait for next month.

Readers, I have vowed I need to get on track - too much sugar and fat - going to start a Raw Food Cleanse as of next week...I don't need to worry about the turkey part, ha ha.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thank you Mr. Jobs

 Thank you Steve Jobs for your dedication to excellence and your incredible vision - I am late to the Apple cult, having just acquired an iphone  - but I totally understand the devoted following - my next goal is an ipad.  Thank you for thinking differently, outside the box, taking technology to the next level and making it user friendly. Rest in peace, you were taken from us far too early - what other amazing ideas could you have shared, I wonder?

The creation of itunes made it fast and easy to access all kinds of music - that's part of what I love about my iphone...however, it is no substitute for the live experience. Did you like that segue?

So - Friday Russ Little is with the CJQ at Quotes from 5 - 8, you can also mosey over to Azure on Front and check out Dan Bodanis and the trio, AND at Trane Studio - Jules Estrin, wonderful trombonist and conductor of the Jazz FM Youth Band has a sextet starting at 8....

I had to laugh because I saw Ty Burrell using poles while walking in a scene from the hilarious "Modern Family" last night....he was almost run over by Julie Bowen....because there wasn't a stop sign at the corner - one of the story lines last night. The whole cast is wonderful and I particularly love Sofia Vergara...

Other new show fave...."New Girl" with the delightful Zooey Deschannel - I have a bit of a girl crush on her - she is so fun and the kind of best friend you would love to have.

Monday, October 3, 2011

An Evening with the Don Thompson Big Band

A little bird told me - okay, it was actually John De Simini one of our former "Jazzology" guests from U of T there will be a great concert this coming Saturday October 8th.

It features Don Thompson's oevre if I may be so pretentious - both new and old and featuring some of the finest musicians around :

 Don Thompson, Mark Promane, John De Simini, Kelly Jefferson, Andy Ballantyne, Shirantha Beddage, Dan Douglas, R.J. Satchithananthan, Pat Blanchard, Christian Overton, Jason Logue, Steve Crowe, Brian O’Kane, Jon Challoner, Kevin Turcotte, Brian Dickinson, David Occhipinti, Neil Swainson, Barry Romberg.

The concert takes place at 1515 Bathurst Street (near St. Clair station) at St. Michael's College Schools' "Centre for the Arts".

Tickets available at or calling 1-888-222-6606 or at the door - reasonably priced at $24.99 for all that musical goodness...

Also I found out that for those of you feeling especially generous, warm hearted and flush with cash the JPEC (that's Jazz Performance and Education Centre) is hosting a wonderful fundraising evening  Wednesday October 26th at 8 p.m at the Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts, 5040 Yonge Street.

And what a lineup : Heather Bambrick, Jackie Richardson, Denzal Sinclaire, William Carn, Mike Murley, Pat LaBarbera.. under the musical direction of Denny Christiansen, you can get in on the action for a starting donation of $250. Plus, one of our former "Jazzology" guests, Francois Mulder will be singing!! 

 The organization is working on creating a full time jazz performance space and of course promoting jazz music and education in Toronto...both very worthy goals.

On a very rainy Sunday I tried out "Urban Poling" - lots of fun and a great workout in the beautiful High Park - like walking with cross country ski poles. Check it out with instructor Barb Gormley -  Afterwards a few of us met in the Grenadier Restaurant for a warming beverage - what a nice little spot. You can pay as you go or pay for a few classes in advance..I'll be back

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chi-ca-go, Chi-ca-go, that toddlin' town.

Yep, couldn't resist a little Frank Sinatra in there. Well, I am back in T.O. after 5 glorious (and partly rainy) days in that great burg.

Chicago makes a great first impression - taking the "el" from Midway airport it's like you're on an archictectural amusement park ride - but what a fun way to enter the city - above street level, winding in and around the buildings. A taste of what the city offers...and more to come.

I stayed at the Inn of Chicago which dates from around the 1920s I believe, on Ohio Street just off the so called Magnificent Mile - featuring such stores as Nordstroms, Neiman Marcus, Macy's and many fine upscale boutiques if say you want to pick up a bauble or two from Cartier or Tiffany's. At the Inn of Chicago there is a great rooftop terrace on the 22nd Floor which provides a wonderful cosmopolitan view. After settling in it was time for some jazz...

A few streets over on the appropriately named Hubbard Street - for Freddie, I wonder? It's Andy's a local institution featuring a large central bar area and tables around it - the band onstage were students from a local post secondary institute - Harold Washington College and I enjoyed a great set - the place seemed to be an after work destination - a relaxing spot to unwind and enjoy some tunes. Couldn't resist a walk down to Navy Pier and another elevated view - this time atop the Ferris Wheel. Did you know that ride originated at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893? Spectacular views over the lake and looking downtown...the views enjoyed even further up when I took the lightning fast ride up the John Hancock Tower a couple of days later.

Day 2 - A trip to Chicago wouldn't be complete without one of it's most famous residents' works - Frank Lloyd Wright. The Chicago Architectural Institute runs a number of walking, bus and boat tours - we selected the bus tour out to Oak Park which featured a peek inside his studio and home. It's astounding to think that he built this when he was merely 21 - no wonder he is such an icon. Throughout the neighbourhood you can see a number of examples of his "bootleg" commissions - i.e. those houses he designed on the side while he was still working and being mentored by Louis Sullivan.

Here is Unity Temple - a Unitarian church he designed in the neighbourhood - pretty convenient to have a famous architect as a member, no?

Even the light fixtures are cool. You can't help but have a reverent and warm feeling in this space - so bright, clean and modern. That's Barbara our tour guide. Oak Park itself is a gorgeous neighbourhood - there was even a friendly dog to greet us at one of the houses - how cool would that be to actually live in a work of art?

We ventured out to Wicker Park - taking transit especially trains is super easy in Chicago and the staff are very helpful to confused looking out of towners. Tried out Native Foods - a veg restaurant and part of a California chain - Gandhi Bowl and Crispy Kale Salad, finished off with a Peanut Butter Parfait. Yum. If I had one wish to make my Chicago experience perfect I would like a restaurant like our own Fresh downtown - juices, bowls and great veg meals...I think there's a niche there waiting to happen. We also ate at the Protein Bar - a fun little spot and mini chain - lots of smoothies, juices and love of quinoa - it isn't strictly veg, though.

Day 3 - time to see Chicago by boat and the Shoreline Tours Architectural Tour - a must many told me when visiting. I have to agree - in spite of inclement weather, a few sprinkles it was very fun and informative 90 minute tour - coffee, beverages and cookies and muffins were provided. Later that afternoon another trip on the "el" to the famous Chicago Diner - comfort food - veg style. "Chicken Fried Steak" and a "Turkey, Bacon and Avocado Sandwich" - I guess a club sandwich if you room for dessert. That evening instead of a "Second City" show...which was sold out we went to "The Joynt" - having picked up a promo card for a one man comedy show featuring Azhar Usman - a Muslim comedian - who provided humour and insight into his world and ours. I had one enormous martini there and felt the effects for a couple of hours afterward.

Day 4 - A visit to the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art - or as we called it "Nuit Blanche" in one building. The featured show was Joseph Cornell "Pandora's Box" - featuring the work of that artist and artists he influenced...the most fun aspect was two short films "The Tenant" - about the adventures of a soap bubble in an abandoned apartment building - engaging and suspenseful and another short which consisted of a number of set-ups and executions of  an obstacles course featuring tires, boards, fire, buckets, water, balloons, chemical foams - I can't even describe it - sort of a Rube Goldberg performance art. It most definitely was created by guys - I wonder how long it took and how much delight they had in creating it. To the left is the staircase at the museum - there is a koi pond at the bottom....

We ate at an Armenian restaurant across from our hotel - they were very veg accommodating and the food was really good - especially their marinated red cabbage.

Last day - time for some more jazz and taking the bus out to Hyde Park. The Hyde Park Jazz Fest is in its' 5th year - and this year has expanded to 2 days both Saturday and Sunday. Hyde Park is sometime home to a certain lawyer - one Barack Obama...and the University of Chicago.

We listened to Tatsu Aoki's Miyumi Ensemble - a cross cultural melange which included taiko drummers and a didjeridoo. Also Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble - she is a renowned flautist and composer who recorded a CD in tribute to Michele Obama. The group featured cello, sitar, guitar, trumpt drums, sax and bass...with a couple of guest vocalists.

 What would a visit be without a trip to Millenium Park? Here's "Cloud Gate" or as we called it The Bean.

Last meal in Chicago - at "Volare" in the hotel neighbourhood - a bustling bistro that looks like Al Capone could have dined there - white tablecloths, great Italian food, a low corner building that looks Art Deco.

We didn't make it to the Green Mill - I do have to somethings for another visit of course!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Raw Aura

It's been too long since I've been to this Port Credit restaurant - I would dearly love to be enough of a
celebrity that I could afford them as my personal chef! Amazing meal - I had a Lemon Meringue smoothie and a Big Salad (the salad was HUGE so I'm having leftovers today) and shared a pizza -  -others had the Burstin Burritos, Falafel wraps. I took some pics - regrettably none of the Chocolate Mint cake - it disappeared too quickly....O. My. God. It was one of the most incredible desserts I've ever had raw or otherwise - a rich chocolate top layer with a creamy decadent middle - cashews and coconut butter I think and a nutty bottom crust...when they say women would take chocolate over sex...this may be what they mean...

It has inspired me for a new commitment to raw since I felt amazing after this lunch. We also visited Hogtown Vegan for dinner on Friday - great comfort food - I had the "Sausage and Biscuits" with gravy and a Caesar side salad and my dining companion the Reuben. This is definitely an indulgence spot - it's a little heavy to eat all the time - in fact we both  felt kind of queasy afterwards..still, it's exciting that a place like this even exists! It was also pretty busy - so that's a great sign.
Counting sleeps to Chicago and the chance to explore that city's musical culinary and architectural delights.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Boxcar Boys and the Roofhoppers

This pairing sounds like great fun - unfortunately I will be out of town - Chicago to be exact, however there is nothing to stop you from enjoying some great music.

The Boxcar Boys are described via the press release as combining the elements of old time jazz, gypsy, klezmer, folk and with a soupcon of New Orleans flair - the band consists of Rob Teehan on sousaphone (Rob is also in another great band "The Heavyweights"), John David Williams on clarinet, Karl Silveira on trombone, Laura Bates on fiddle and Ronen Segall on accordion. They play a mixture of originals and such classics as Hank Williams "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry".

An equally interesting musical stew is served up by their bandstand mates, "The Roofhoppers" and this trio contains one of the former "Jazzology" guests - the very talented Adrian Gross on mandolin and guitar.

Hugh's is a great venue so I know you will have extra helpings of merriment on my behalf. 


Boxcar Boys
"...guaranteed to put a smile on your face and a spring in your step."
John Terauds (Toronto Star)

WHO: The Boxcar Boys and The Roofhoppers
WHAT: Boxcar Boys Hugh’s Room debut / EP Release party for The Roofhoppers
WHERE: Hugh’s Room, 2261 Dundas St. W. Toronto, ON
WHEN: Thursday, September 22nd, music starts @ 8:30 pm
TICKETS: $12 Students / $15 adv. / $17 door  or by calling 416-531-6604
Dinner reservations guarantee seating

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

More book recommendations

I have been doing a lot of reading lately and not so much jazz club haunting...that will change in the fall as the schedules heat up.

I got to meet some of the young musicians auditioning for the Jazz FM Youth Band over the weekend with their parents - so many talented and inspiring youngsters including one just turned 12 year old - Felix Fox  - he is a pianist. I think he had the distinction of being the youngest auditioner, if that is a word. He was very sweet, a student of Alan Zemaitis (former "Jazzology" guest) and Jules encouraged Felix and his mom to check out the Humber Community Outreach program...nice!

I'm getting psyched for my Chicago trip - already booked the Frank Lloyd Wright Tour...woo hoo.

And now for literary matters: first up two non fiction works. The first "The Warmth of Other Suns" is a Pulitzer prize winning exploration of the great migration of African Americans to the cities of the north, east and west of the U.S. in the last century. It actually follows mostly the trials and triumphs of three individuals - Ida Mae from Mississippi, Robert or Pershing from Louisiana and George from Florida. Riveting.

Next, "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls - an incredible portrait of Walls' and her three other siblings being brought up in various locations in the U.S. including West Virginia,Arizona and California by vagabond parents - who seem to me to be delusional, co-dependent, (the father is an alcoholic) and quite possibly mentally ill. Although they provide "adventures" for their children and are obviously intelligent they certainly put their children at risk of starvation and at times death. The craziest fact is that her mother owns not only a house in Phoenix but land in Texas which is valued at one million dollars. Compelling, sad, frustrating, funny and unbelievable.

Last the wonderful "Rules of Civility" set in the social scene of 1930's New York. A must read as you follow the lives of Katey, Eve and Tinker as they negotiate that glittering city.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Midnight in Paris

I finally saw this charming movie over the weekend at the Revue. I am happy to see that Woody has returned to his stellar form - I haven't enjoyed a film of his really since Hannah and her sisters. Great cast too - with Owen Wilson embodying Gil - the sweet but tortured would be novelist who wants more than anything to experience Paris in the 20's - the Jazz Age - hobnobbing with the like of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Hemingway - his idol - played by a dishy newcomer (at least to me) Corey Stoll. Listening to Cole Porter try out "Let's Do It" on piano at a party..exhilarating. He also gets his novel read by Gertrude Stein - wonderfully portrayed by Kathy Bates - who picks up the latest Picasso for a mere $500.

Of course, this being Paris - there is l'amour in the form of Adriana - artists muse to the likes of Picasso and Modigliani - played by the divine Marion Cotilliard. A dilemma for Gil - stay and marry whiny and self centred Ines - played by Rachel McAdams or remain in a bygone era.

Adrien Brody is a delightful Dali or DA-LI! as he introduces himself and suffice to say time travelling Gil doesn't faze the existentialists at all...Man Ray and Bunuel included. Highly recommended - a beautiful billet doux to that enchanting city. A good reason for me to visit - sadly, I have never been!

It got me thinking about time travel..where would you choose to go in time? One period I would love to check out would be the heyday of bebop in New York - maybe late 40s early 50's - listening to soon to be legends like Miles and Dizzy and Bird, Lady Day...and on and on. I think there would be a vibrancy to that post war era as well. Some periods would be fascinating to get a peek at and then escape quickly like ancient Egypt, any period of English history - particularly Tudor and Medieval - provided one didn't get dropped into a war or execution.To meet Shakespeare or Elizabeth I or Keats, Shelley, Byron, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens. I think the golden age of Hollywood would be fun too. Also, many places before they had been colonized...lush, unspoiled oases.

I had the pleasure of watching "John Adams" recently - six hours of Paul Giamatti - who I adore - not to mention what a talented actor and chameleon he is - you should check it out if you hadn't already - fascinating history of the American Revolution. Laura Linney is marvelous as his devoted wife Abigail and Tom Wilkinson a treat as the genius and eccentric Benjamin Franklin. Our own Sara Polley plays their adult daughter Nellie.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Delicious baked goods for a good cause

Not much I can add here - it's a bake sale for goodness sake...and it raises money for a proposed subway campaign...yay! Also a chance to shop at Panacea - a great vegan store!  I will need to restrain myself!

What I'm reading....

We all need a good laugh every day and this is a surefire way to get them - I really miss Dave Barry's columns always good for a chuckle - this book delivers the laugh out loud in public, snorting and even he tackles everything from his daughter's dance recitals to advice to women on men and ponderings on celebrity, technology and even the perfect script a la "24"....a must read...

On a different wavelength is "The Atlas of Love" - set in Seattle the tale of 3 grad students who are the caretakers of a baby that one of the has - their romances, tests of friendship, a funeral, a wedding - really how they learn to negotiate life outside the ivory tower of academia. A wonderful book. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Music at the Market

One of the delights of summer farmer's markets is not only the incredible selection of fresh local produce but fresh local music - here is my niece Fran on cello as part of a trio in Trinity Bellwoods. Delightful!

I have also encountered postie Vera Colley at the Liberty Village Market - Vera has a great duo sometimes trio with her man Johnny called "Whoa, Nellie" - doing country and folk influenced tunes, particularly country swing - with Vera on accordian.

Last minute notice tonight - not a farmer's market but the lovely and talented Yvette Tollar with Dave Restivo - also lovely and talented at 401 Richmond - a "Summer Coffeehouse" concert series presented by Donald Quan - it starts around 8ish - it's also PWYC. It also features an actual grand piano!

Don't forget two wonderful singers at the Rex tomorrow - starting with Sophia Perlman for the early show and later Melissa Stylianou in town from New York.

On Friday, if you are in the Waterloo area - check out my friend Brenda Lewis and guitarist Margaret Stowe at the Seven Shores cafe on 8 Regina Street North, Unit 5.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Day trip

Yesterday was getting out of the city for a fun day trip - headed out to Halton Hills with the end goal being a hike around Crawford Lake. It's so gorgeous right now with all the greenery...Our first stop was the Cheltenham Badlands - it's sort of a man made Badlands due to erosion from unsuccessful farming around the turn of the 20th century - you can still see some apple trees around the's a photo.....

We then got waylaid - in a good way by a stop at Spirit Tree Cidery - we couldn't resist the roadside sign and the promise of not only cider but Wood Fired Oven bakery goodies - in fact we bought 3 loaves of bread - one of which was an Apple baguette - chewy and delicious plus some raw chocolate bars made in Georgetown - Giddy YoYo. There was a well stocked shop with lots of gourmet goodies including a take out area which had a variety of salads, cheeses and pies.

One of the plants on our walk...don't know what those blue berries are..


By the time we got to Crawford Lake the heat of the day had lessened a bit and in our travels on a trail up to the Lookout we spied some Turkey Vultures resting....

Afterwards it was off to dinner at the Naked Sprout in Burlington....this is the Tempeh Reuben


And this the pizza....


We also discovered a great spot near Georgetown called William's Mill - a collective of artists workshops and a gallery - glass, stone sculpture, fabric, paintings - a lovely spot...also a village named Terra Cotta - I see why people like to live out this way - it would be a great spot as an artist/artisan/ get inspiration from...

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

I saw this amazing film over the weekend - in case you haven't heard of it - I encourage you to go - it's a documentary made by Werner Herzog about the Chauvet cave discovered in 1994 in France by a trio looking for cave spaces - and what a discovery...can you imagine coming across these paintings which had been sealed up for thousands of years?

A rockslide some centuries ago had covered the original entrance and the cavers sensing air currents from below found a small entrance in the rockface. Herzog and his crew were privileged to document this incredible find.  The images are breathtaking - so fresh and alive - but as others have commented it generates as many questions or more questions than answers. Who were these people and why did they leave behind these images - there is no evidence that they lived in the cave - perhaps merely using it for ceremony and spiritual purposes. There are a number of bones in the interior - cave bear and other mammals - the human evidence some hand prints on the walls.

You will be astounded at the artwork - how they position the drawings, the shadings, the suggestion of movement..the sheer beauty. I would in fact suggest that part of the reason the works were created were to please the they still do. One of the archaeologists in the film says he dreamed of lions for the 4 nights he was in the space - not in a scary way but tangible. Many involved in documenting the discovery say they felt a presence, as if they were being watched. I urge you to go and see this important film - you will be thinking about it for hours and days afterward.

Friday, August 5, 2011


I do like taking quizzes to see how smart I believe myself to be and also learn something when I don't get all the answers as well...:)

This fun and fast quiz courtesy of - tests your knowledge of our fair city and if answer all ten correctly,  the opportunity of winning 3 free city walk iPhone apps to the burg of your choice...that's iPhone not food...but think of it as food for your cerebellum.

Email your answers to Bonne Chance!

Toronto Fun Facts Quiz:

1. Within a 160 km radius of Toronto lives _____ of Canada's population.
A. Half
B. One third
C. One quarter

2. On what building can one find a giant neon weather station?
A. Canada Life Building
B. National Trust Tower
C. First Canadian Place

3. How many languages are estimated to be spoken throughout the city?
A. 50+
B. 100+
C. 200+

4. Which one of these movie stars was not born in the city of Toronto?
A. Christopher Plummer
B. Mia Kirshner
C. Jim Carrey

5. The CN Tower held its record of the world's tallest building for 34 years, until the Burj Khalifa and Canton Tower were built. It now remains the tallest free-standing structure in:
A. North America
B. the Americas
C. the Western Hemisphere

6. A serious ____ occurred in 1995. It was the worst day in Toronto history.
A. Subway crash
B. Fire
C. Storm

7. What do Bloor Street, Danforth Avenue and McCowan Road have in common?
A. They are all the same street
B. They run diagonal
C. They all run west-east

8. In 2006, City Hall told which group of people to leave and never come back?
A. Charlie's Angels
B. Guardian Angels
C. Black Angels

9. Which of these cities is not officially part of the Greater Toronto Area, but is still considered by some as "part of Toronto"?
A. Oakville
B. Hamilton
C. Pickering

10. Toronto has had many city-nicknames along the years. How was Toronto never called like?
A. Hogtown
B. the City that Sleeps
C. The Big Smoke

Back to our regularly scheduled jazz soon - I'm off to Azure tonight with my fellow chanteuses from Bill King's workshops. I'm excited about Melissa Stylianou's upcoming visit to the Rex on August 18th...more later. I will not be going to the Edmonton Folk Fest this year, malheureusement - however, I am going to Chicago in September..."sorry, but I can't take you" as Joe Williams possibilites galore for art, architecture, jazz and vegan food galore...please send me any recommendations. We're staying at the Inn of Chicago and flying Porter...a convenient stroll to the airport.

As of this week I am incorporating more raw foods into my diet  - trying to clean out the system - especially in summer since produce is so readily available....much to the garden groundhog's delights - yes, he visited our "salad bar" - lettuce, carrot tops and some kale - he doesn't seem to care for Swiss chard or tat soi though...

Here's one of the books I'm consulting for my raw food journey....

Monday, July 18, 2011

More Weird Al

Got to meet this genius backstage on Saturday night - thanks to Ruben Very fun show - those Weird Al fans are serious - singing along with all the clever lyrics. What can you say about a show that features a Doors parody "Craigslist", mini pseudo interviews with the likes of Robert Plant, Eminem and Madonna, a Segway, Amish outfits and Star Wars' storm have to see it to believe it.

This week keeping cool as the temperature is soaring with humidex into the plus 30s...ugh. Still, remind me about this when I'm complaining about winter...

Martedi - that's Tuesday for you non Italophiles - Daniela Nardi is again at Chalkers, Wednesday Mohawk grad and former "Jazzology" guest Mary McKay VanEnden is at the Reservoir from 7 - 10 p.m. - she is a wonderful singer and will be accompanied by her man Johnny McKay..a nice cool place on a sweltering day...the only heat will be that generated onstage. Also on Wednesday over at Hugh's Room - Jane Bunnett and Hilario Duran's CD release for "Cuban Rhapsody" around 8:30...

Read an article ":Resisting the Avant-Garde in Films" by Manohla Dargis in the New York Times this weekend about how some appreciate and some do not more abstract films...i.e. "Tree of Life" .The author cited this interesting 3 minute film which I'd never heard of's oddly compelling and calming - plus there is Ella tenuous jazz connection. Apparently it appeals to young children who often get up and sway and move to the music, mesmerized by the pan of the flower covered fence...I think as an INFP I don't have trouble if there isn't a set narrative or linear storyline, I'm perfectly fine filling in the blanks...or leaving the blanks unfilled too...

Bruce Baillie - All My Life from Andrew EW Neel on Vimeo.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Fun at Azure and a Weird Al siting

IMG_3801.jpgHere's Dan and his stellar subs for the evening  - Dave Restivo on piano and Duncan Hopkins on bass...later Lee Wallace subbed for Dave - who had a gig with Vaughn Misener over at the Rex...As a special treat - Weird Al Yankovic's keyboard player Ruben Valtierra - I have scored tickets for the gig tonight at Massey Hall...Woo hoo! I have been a fan of Weird Al's since I heard his early work on the Doctor Demento show...."Another One Rides the Bus" (aka Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust").

Ruben let loose on Horace Silver's "Song for My Father"...

There was also a young fan of the music - I believe her name was Sienna....she was quite the fashion plate - she even had matching turquoise Crocs....she certainly enjoyed moving and grooving to the tunes...
I'll let you know how the Weird Al concert works out...should be good. I think in every band with popular artists there lurks a secret jazz musician or two...saw him in the lobby on the way to the elevator...

By the way if you happen to be or live in Mississauga, Dan Bodanis let me know about a new jazz gig - solo piano on Wednesday's starting at 5:30 - it's a lovely Italian restaurant/bakery called Artisano's  - check it out - Dave Restivo is usually pianist in residence with Bernie Senensky subbing in this coming week. They have a "Pasta Bar" which is I think a buffet....magnifico! As always great jazz and food go together...(it's close to where I used to live). Sounds like a great idea for the after work crowd., 3145 Dundas Street West (.at Winston Churchill Road)  Phone 905 607 1990

Dan assures me the menu is very yummy, especially the bread and baked goods and I certainly trust Dan when it comes to food...