Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Jazz Bistro (2013) Toronto

It seems like an eternity since Toronto has had a world class jazz club. Kudos to Sybil Walker, Colin and Joan Hunter for staking so much in the sumptuous renovation of the Senator.

You’ll remember Sybil for her dedicated years keeping The Top of the Senator a going concern. I had one of those cherished seats for Betty Carter, Shirley Horn, Branford Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Jane Monheit, Jamie Cullun, Marcus Roberts, Christian McBride, Russell Malone, Diana Krall, an endless list of A league performers.

The renovations have given the Jazz Bistro an observers point from above where Senator jazz played nightly. Moving the music to street level gives the Bistro an airy spacious feel far different from the cramped setting of the original room. The upstairs bar has been moved to the front of room with plenty space to retire with company and enjoy music and conversation without interfering with happenings below.

The room is warm and welcoming – a place that feels familiar.

The red and black Steinway (Red Pop) is most appealing. Joan Hunter picked the piano as the centerpiece and made a magnificent choice. The piano is eye popping in stature and a feast for the ears.

At yesterday’s preliminary launch of Toronto Jazz Festival pianist Joe Sealy put the piano to the test. Normally, these kind of background gigs beg one to play filler but Joe wrapped himself in the elegant instrument and played as if preparing for his next recording.

Location is everything. With the return of the big Mirvish shows Walker and company can be assured of the overflow – before and after theatre patrons.

Ms. Walker has assured programming will be much broader encompassing blues and beyond. From this vantage point that’s a savvy move.

Jazz venues come and go and times dictate both the financial stability and relevance of an establishment. The determining factor in the success or failure of the Jazz Bistro with be innovative programming, the food, comfort and loyalty of those who cry endlessly about the city’s unwillingness to support a world class jazz venue.

I will make a prediction: Big win for jazz fans and long robust future ahead!


  1. This is sweet music to my ears. Great article, Bill.

  2. Bill This morning I heard your wonderful recording with Gavin Hope on" But Beautiful"
    I know all of the accolades that have been given to the Tony Bennettt, Bill Evans version and they are well deserved. However, your own duet version does not pale in comparison given the wonderful harmonics and voicings your provided and the sensitive and expressive singing of Gavin Hope. Thank you very much.
    I have a blog devoted to 150 plus classic American Popular Songs which introduce the composer and lyricist of an particular song, I briefly describe the song in question and then provide a Youtube performance.
    The blog is
    Best Wishes

    Max Weissengruber