Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Daniela Nardi - Espresso Manifesto

What better way to escape a chilly day than a journey to sunny Italy. No need to book a flight - only one of fancy via Daniela Nardi's Espresso Manifesto experience at Glenn Gould Theatre. I need little excuse to indulge in bella Italia - I grew up around Italians and although at that time my friends were reluctant to identify with anything related to the old country and therefore their parents (it was the 70s) that certainly wasn't the case for me. I found Italian culture fascinating..not to mention delicious.

So for a little while last night I travelled to that wonderful country enveloped in the music of Paolo Conte, one of Italy's celebrated songwriters. Miss Nardi's elegance was complemented by a stellar band including her husband Ron Davis on piano, John Johnston on clarinet, Mike Downes on bass, Kevin Barrett on guitar, Larry on drums, Louis Simao on accordian and as a special treat - direct from Italy - the exquisite trumpet of Fabrizio Bosso.

Opening with a montage of Italian Canadian photos including Daniela herself the mood was set with the lively "Azzurro" and further eased into the Mediterannean with "Sotto le Stelle del Jazz" and a cool, sweet and refreshing "Gelato al Limon". The audience was entertained by a varied program including the raucous fun of "Come Di", putting me in mind of a Marx brothers movie  and the bluesy "Un Altra Vita" a speculation about the afterlife...

The gorgeous "Nina" featured the artistry of Fabrizio Bosso on a lovely and poignant tune and "Messico e Nuvole" a lively Latin treatment. The band got to strut their stuff on the rollicking "Pawpwalk" a composition of Ron Davis.

The concert wouldn't be complete with "Via Con Me" - Paolo Conte's big hit (and for me ever associated with the movie "French Kiss".

Nardi recorded the album in Italy with Italian musicians seeking to span the ocean between her Canadian and Italian roots. She describes Espresso as being the "ultimate symbol of all things Italian - dark, rich earthy, complex, yet effortless. elegan yet primal. Hot. I would add to that a marvelous jolt and a good way to get your heart racing....check out the CD if you're not in New York on December 8th - you can check her out at DROM on the Lower East Side...


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Catching up - Slocan Rambers, Ilana Waldston

Just a brief FYI  - there is a Slocan Ramblers - for all you bluegrass fans at the Tranzac this Friday - doors at 8 p.m., show at 9ish. One of the talented members of this group is Adrian Gross - one of our former "Jazzology" guests and a fine guitarist. - it's their first CD so give a listen here:

As you may know, I do love me some bluegrass and the 3 tracks I listened to sounded fabulous!

Ilana Waldston | I Could Laugh Out Loud

Due to the Grey Cup festivities I wasn't able to make it to Ilana Waldston's CD release but understand that natch, it was great. Ilana's CD is entitled "I Could Laugh Out Loud" because of course she is renowned for her superb choice of humourous material including such greats as Dave Frishberg but is equally adept at lovely standards such as "It's a Lovely Day" and "Lucky to be Me". She is an inspiration to me to get off my butt and start singing again.. If you're thinking of some holiday shopping...check out her site - or cdbaby...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Last Days in London

Monday morning we went for breakfast at a place called Giraffe that was located in the shopping mall near Russell Square station - your typical beans and toast with a little something different - avocado - this partly because we discovered the sausage wasn't vegan...Fraser also finally got to have some nice porridge!

Then on this rainy day it was off in search of the Vegan Shop where Fraser bought some sneakers/shoes much like his much loved hemp shoes from Moo Shoes in New York...we dropped into this little tea and gift shop en route and a had a lovely cuppa..with our own china pot and teacups. The place also offered a variety of workshops in the evening including one on making yourself glamourously retro with hair and makeup - what fun!

Our beloved Oyster pass meant we could also take a train out to Hampton Court - someplace I was longing to visit after reading so many Philippa Gregory novels..

 The grounds are enormous and it's very thrilling to wander around knowing that Henry the VIII did so...
 These very manicured trees I believe we added during the late 17th century - and indeed the palace itself is in two parts with the Tudor archictecture being at the entrance and where I'm standing a vast renovation under the reign of William and Mary and Christopher Wren's plans. A more baroque style if you will..
The palace was originally built by Cardinal Wolsey, who wisely bestowed it upon his king when he admired it...thus keeping his head.
 Here is the kitchen required to keep Henry and his many courtiers and entourage..

And speaking of that Tudor monarch..why here he is making an appearance. Fraser was chosen along with the other few men on the tour to be on the King's council and to help deciding on the very important matter of whether Henry should break with the Church of Rome in order to proceed with his divorce from Catherine of Aragon and marriage to Anne Boleyn...

Fraser was even so brave as to disagree with the King - which makes sense since he was a Bishop representing the Catholic Church. During these proceedings George Boleyn, Anne's brother brought news that she had run off in a fit of we went in search of her...

Anne's brother George who would, unfortunately also lose his head, having been accused of incestuous relations with her - by
his own scheming wife.

Ah, the happy couple (at least for now) re-united...

After this entertainment we decided to try our hand and figuring out the maze..

Back to London for dinner - as we hadn't brought servants with us like Henry. This evening it was Mildred's in SoHo..which was scrumptious!

 My pie was mushroom and ale and I forget what Fraser's was...those chips were amazing!
And of course, Fraser had to take a photo of the "Puddings" menu for posterity..we had a fruit crisp

Post meal we checked out the upstairs bar at Ronnie Scott's...kind of a funny layout for listening - not as well thought out as the main club downstairs...

There was construction work going on in the street in front of Mildred's - but it didn't deter customers any...

The next morning and our last in England started - for me - with a latte in Russell Square Park - they had a little cafe in there and true to form another funny sign - this one advising patrons that they would not replace food that the pigeons had eaten..

I look kind of frightened there - maybe it was a pigeon after my latte? Anyway, we did a rapid tour of the National Portrait Gallery - and saw images of everyone from Bryon to Judi Dench! Also a quick run through the National Gallery and then some lunch at this place, an Asian buffet:

Our meanderings took us up to where they were installing the "Frieze London" Art Show...

And alas our last trip through Russell Square Tube station...

We really, really loved our time in Britain and hope to get back there sometime particular to Edinburgh and more Highlands! In the meantime we have our memories and some lovely whisky!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

More London!

Sunday in Hyde Park - with many many Londoners..I think there was some kind of fitness event going on - we were the beneficiaries we had a lovely takeaway lunch of raw food and ate on the grass while people and  duck watching...

That morning we had gorged ourselves on decorative arts at the Victoria and Albert Museum including fashions through the ages and a bit of  a peek at a special Gowns Exhibit...

Fraser was especially amused at all the signage and the wording on signs everywhere - but it is actually smart and a kindness to post these on the roads for us hapless tourists used to people being on the right side of the road..

It was a cool but sunny day to enjoy Hyde Park and it's many features..including of course the Princess Diana memorial fountain..which several children were enjoying - just as she would have wanted it!

 One of the many lovely swans and other waterfowl...
It was interesting seeing all these birds perched in a row on the posts.

 An Italian Garden...

There is even horseback riding in the very British.
 And of course the famous Speaker's Corner...seemed to be somewhat sparsely populated that day..

Our bucolic meanderings finished it was time for more culture - in the form on the British Museum...

Again Fraser was amused at the long list of rules posted on the gate.

Here is the legendary Rosetta Stone a major breakthrough in deciphering the mysterious code of Egyptian hieroglyphics..

 And of course the former Elgin Marbles - not sure what they are calling these magnificent reliefs and sculptures that were um, liberated from the Parthenon a couple of centuries back and Greece has been trying to get their return for almost as long. Still, I think they may also have been saved from the wear and tear and pollution and acid rain. They are an amazing sight to behold.

I might also mention that as in most British museums they have an amazing gift shop.

After a busy day a relaxing evening at Studios 2 Let and some of our leftover salads purchased at the Borough Market supplemented by food from the Health Food Store and red wine from stop shopping. The next installment - a visit to the National Portrait Gallery and National Gallery, Hampton Court and Ronnie Scott's.