The scene inside the Enwave Theatre Thursday night was less reminiscent of a jazz performance than it was of a Justin Bieber concert. The crowd was filled with girlish screams and whistles and an air of swooning excitement as the acclaimed Gregory Porter was set to take the stage.
Pianist Jason Moran knows how to set the scene. His June 26th show at the Horseshoe Tavern, featuring Meshell Ndegeocello, was a vibrant night dedicated to the music of Fats Waller.
The crowd was passionate about Glasper - fans who had attended that notorious show shouted “Welcome back! Welcome back!” as soon as the band stepped on stage at the Horseshoe Tavern. Some arrived early to stake out territory right up front. Three young women dressed in American Apparel gear sat on stools at the edge of the stage with a bouquet of flowers resting where Glasper would later play, and they light-heartedly joked with me that they realized they looked like “fan girls.”
Guitar virtuoso, Humber College professor, and acclaimed professional sideman Ted Quinlan headlined an intimate performance at Mezzetta Restaurant and Tapas Bar on June 25 along with fellow Humber professor, bassist Mike Downes. Both Quinlan and Downes have storied careers in jazz, performing the world over and playing with top names such as Oliver Jones, Diana Krall, Chet Baker, Moe Koffman, Guido Basso and Doug Riley.
Last Sunday the Jazz Bistro, situated at 251 Victoria Street in Toronto, was the scene of much excitement as one of Canada’s great jazz vocalists, Ranee Lee, took the stage along with her husband and accompanying guitarist Richard Ring...Lee spoke to the TD Jazz News Corps in between her sets at the Jazz Bistro about her rise to fame, her introduction to jazz, and her thoughts on contemporary jazz in Canada and Toronto.
A cluster of Dr. John fans - adorned in Mardi Gras beads and replicas of the colorful feathered headdress worn on his Locked Down album cover - waited impatiently, even howling at one point, for the second part of the Mavis Staples/Dr. John double bill. While they howled other fans snapped photos of the two skulls staring at the audience from the top of a black piano that silently announced that the "Night Tripper" would soon be in the building.
The double bill of Mavis Staples and Dr. John was one of the most highly anticipated concerts of the 2013 TD Toronto Jazz Festival. It was a rare opportunity to see two venerable legends perform in one night. And it turned out to be a spectacular evening.
I had never questioned my love of jazz. I never questioned my jazz preferences. I listened to it every day, and I simply enjoyed it, clumping it all together under the nonspecific label of jazz. But this year’s TD Toronto Jazz Festival has got me questioning what jazz is to me – and it is a thrilling experience.
Last night, while most of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival’s audience was awaiting the arrival of either Smokey Robinson or Molly Johnson, a small crowd gathered inside a tiny venue at the corner of Richmond and Spadina. The audience emanated a palpable sense of anticipation that belied the number of attendees. This was a rare opportunity to see the ever reclusive Mary Margaret O’Hara, of Miss America fame (the album, not the pageant).
A multi-faceted artist - song writing, design, performance art, to name a few - Maylee Todd stands out among singers whose careers are now built on ever morphing images and outrageous dress. Sly humour bubbling beneath the beauty and the style further distinguishes Todd from pop contemporaries.
Currently on tour — and prepping for her June 26th TD Toronto Jazz Festival performance — Todd took some time out to talk going solo, vagina costumes and the iconic Betty Davis.