Jazz, Blues, Music, Baby

Jeff Healey at the Long Beach Blues Festival

Image via Wikipedia


About ten years ago, my husband came across to Toronto on a reconnaisance visit as his then employer had hinted at moving him over. Armed with a map of Toronto, a hire car and no idea of what to expect, he happened to end up one night in Jeff Healeys, wonderfully atmospheric Bathurst Street jazz and blues basement – any one remember the cloying “perfume” smell that pervaded that space???
He watched in awe as one of his teenage heroes Jeff Healey was escorted on stage and accompanied by the Dave Murphy band. One of Jeff’s guests that evening was Jerome Godboo.Well, he arrived back to the UK, armed with one of Jerome’s cd’s and played the crap out of it for months on end. I liked it of course but deprived of having ever seen Jerome play live, it was contextually out of kilter with the tiny country lanes and green fields of the Cotswolds, our virtually non-existent live music scene generally and the Toronto music scene in particular. I gave it no further thought.
That particular company move fell through following the tragedy of 9/11 and the economic backlash in North America.
Imagine my surprise when some years later, having taken the opportunity to make the transition over with another employer, I was sat in Healeys myself watching Jerome Godboo and a guy called David Rotundo calling the musical shots that night.
I was electrified – Coming from the musically starved backcountry of Oxfordshire UK, I’d never seen anything so exciting – sure I’d been to many big name gigs over the years and to various “jazz festival” but the small club jazz/blues scene was new to me – this was on my doorstep and totally accessible.
Now of course I take it for granted. Toronto whilst not the most beautiful city in the world is blessed with a vibrant music scene like nowhere else. Even Chicago doesn’t appear to offer the same opportunities in terms of choice and quantity of venues.When we first arrived in 2005 we probably spent every Thursday evening at Healeys, visiting, even when Jeff Healey was too ill to preside over the proceedings and enjoying The Jeff Healey Band aka Dave Murphy Band (who still play regularly at the Orbit and The Reservoir Lounge) and all the guests that attempted to fill the void left by Jeff on these Thursday evenings.
Jeff of course has long gone (but his Jazz fm show is still airing and his voice so familiar it’s bizarre to think he’s not with us anymore), but we have since found a whole host of clubs in which to while away pleasant evenings or afternoons listening to the most superb live performances.
We have tended to sign up for our favourite bands and performers and follow them via their newsletters, which means that we often end up at “The Rex” on Queen Street, the aforementioned “Reservoir Lounge” and “Orbit room”; “Transac”; The Delta Chelsea.
Favourite’s so far – Jerome Godboo;David Rotundo, Alec Fraser; Shawn Kellerman, Jack De Keyzer Band (these guys often play together at various venues: see Jerome’s website for details:http://www.jeromegodboo.com/
Oh and Rita di Ghent – cannot wait to see you both at The Reservoir Lounge on the 26 April and in May at the Under Down Pub – it’s been too long girl……………
We also adore listening to the superb Toronto Jazz Orchestra (TJO) a talented slew of musicians who regularly cram themselves, their instruments and their massive wall of sound into the Rex. thetjo.com Josh Grossman Artistic Director of this entity is also the Artistic director of “Toronto Downtown Jazz”, which produces the annual TD Toronto Jazz Festival;works as administrator for Continuum Contemporary Music and is Co-Chair of the Program Committee for the Jazz Performance and Education Centre. – whew!!
Toronto Jazz Festival ( June 24 – July 3 2011see http://torontojazz.com/ for details): headlining this year Dave Brubeck (saw them at the Koerner Hall last year– absolutely legendary); Aretha Franklin and the Average White Band.This is such a great jazz Festival (and I’ve been to a few around the world now). Since we’ve been here it has attracted big name stars like Tony Bennett, Herbie Hancock Jamie Cullum, Kool & The Gang, Sonny Rollins and to many others to mention (which means I’ve forgotten), as well as a host of local and North American talent.
Don’t forget to check out the annual “Beaches” jazz festival from July 15- 24) www.beachesjazz.com
Gate 403 – 403 Roncesvalles Avenue – almost classy but cosy piano bar ambiance – 416 588 2930Grossman’s Tavern 379 Spadina Avenue – never a cover, and there’s live music every night – 416 977 7000
Orbit Room – 580A College Street – owned by Alex Lifeson of Rush – 416 535 0613
Ten Feet Tall. – 1381 Danforth Avenue – Open Weekdays 5:00 pm. Weekends 11:00 am – 416 778 7333
The Home Smith bar – 21 Old Mill Road located at the Old Mill Inn and Spa – 416 236 2641
The Pilot Tavern – 22 Cumberland Street – Mainly Saturday afternoons – 416 923 5716
The Rex 194 Queen St. West – around 20 or so performances a week and decent scram – 416 598 2475
The Silver Dollar Room – 486 Spadina Avenue – 9139opened in 1958 – bluegrass (High Noon Wednesday’s) – 416 763 9139
Trane Studio – 964 Bathurst Street – specializes in tributes events – 416 913 8197
The Reservoir Lounge – 52 Wellington Street East – even though it hosts a schedule of superb regular performers this venue doesn’t appear to hot up till after 10pm on weekdays – 416 955 0887
Sky Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge – 2680Skymark Avenue, Mississauga – not as it sounds but hosts Jerome Godboo and friends most Saturday afternoons – worth the trip – 905 625 9896
Tranzac Club – 292 Brunswick Avenue avant-garde and fringe – 416 923 8137
The above is just a selection of those tried out by myself. There are literally dozens of other music venues in Toronto – see NOW magazine live music listing http://www.cestwhat.com/
Over and Out..

One thought on “Jazz, Blues, Music, Baby

  1. I’m really touched. Thank you for including me in your blog, Carol. I checked out the Underdown website and it seems they have me starting on May 18th.

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