Sunday, June 30, 2013

Closing thoughts on 2013 TD Jazz Festival..

Can you say big fun!

Times are difficult all around and planning a festival is no exception. Rarely do people agree on who should be presented. The grand daddy of all jazz festivals – Newport in 1958 featured gospel- Mahalia Jackson, blues – Big Maybelle – rock & roll - Chuck Berry amongst a stellar line-up of living great jazz artists.

Going back twenty years I’m interviewing former Downbeat Magazine editor Gee Lees at photographer John Reeves home and conversation rose concerning the passing of so many icons and how that bodes for the future of jazz. Lees spoke nostalgically - reminiscing, one time there were 500 icons and then only 50 – and asked who would come to see jazz performers once the last great died. Prophetic?

Reviewing 2013 TD Jazz and coming Beaches International Jazz Festival it can be honestly stated both are now music festivals with broader appeal whose survival depends on reaching that middle ground -who remember the greats, celebrate newcomers and look toward the future close to but not defined by jazz.

Certainly, rhythm & blues and blues are rival cousins and to some extent gospel – bluegrass? – not so much, yet there’s so much magic and energy – musicianship, improvisation; it rewards big time.

I’m asked every year as artistic director of BIJF by media – what’s different this year. Truly not much, it’s about exceptional music – and the fact we are now a music festival – no fault of our own – but through ravages of time, survival and economics.

TD Jazz Festival’s head honcho Pat Taylor and I have been great friends many years. The both of us share the same passion for music – solid great music without prejudice. We greet each other with hilarious overture and it’s always last man standing humour. The business is serious but the hang - gut busting funny.

We hear the complaining and accept the jibes and never take it personally. Toronto is our canvas and we get a few days each summer to paint the days with something special – bold music colors and the shaded notes in between.

The jazz is still there – but hello! Blues, Latin, World Music, Rhythm & Blues, Reggae, Caribbean and more.

Dave Brubeck's passing in many ways signaled the end of the golden age of contemporary mainstream jazz. With Smokey, Aretha, Mavis, and young phenom Trombone Shorty pushing the right buttons we still have a great connection with rhythm & blues and that classic era.

Why hasn’t the same happened for jazz? Simple.. economics. There’s no living to be made there. The best and brightest players are teaching; far removed from a touring professional career. It’s survival in the age of smartphones, iPads, flat screens, .. the big stars aren’t musicians anymore – they are Foodies – the young chefs – the kitchen freaks. You want to get a girl – lay down the horn and cook her a plate of something delicious and imaginative. Fortunately, summer festivals provide a forum – a reminder we have great jazz players hanging around and a gig is most welcomed.

Festivals are all about who’s creating a buzz and takes their careers seriously.

Last night backstage I was having an engaging conversation with sound/production guys who experienced conversation with Steve Martin. Martin pretty much said movies are a no go – playing is where is heart is. You could sense by the commitment, planning, bold humour, and calibre musicianship; Martin applies the same standards as those crafting humour, writing and acting. Not only did I marvel at the playing, I laughed silly and walked away feeling especially good about those spent minutes. You can’t say that about most hours dedicated sitting in front of a music act.

For that I’m jazzed!

I’ll add to that time spent with Dr. Lonnie Smith, festival director Josh Grossman’s Toronto Jazz Orchestra, Trombone Shorty, Slocan Ramblers, Willy Nelson, Dr. John..

Big thanks to Pat, Patti, Anna, and the staff at TD Jazz – congrats and thanks for including Kris and I – we are such wild fans!



Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sanborn, Gadd, James, Glasper and that Dr. Lonnie Smith Guy!

Oh how times have changed.

 There were a couple decades when Sanborn, Gadd and James were perceived innovators bridging jazz, pop and rhythm and blues into a most palatable dish.  Sanborn played closer to King Curtis and blue jazz tradition. James has always been more of an underscoring composer – everything sounds like the soundtrack to a 80s television sitcom. Gadd, has played on every serious pop recording of the seventies, eighties and plenty in the nineties.
Tonight it was polite jazz – each solo a gentleman’s hand off. No disagreements or steamy episodes everything neatly tailored and predictable. That’s what greying crossover jazz sounds like.

Robert Glasper for his part, played to a younger demographic. Volume was at riot force ten and energy at the breaking point. No soft blows only hard edge keyboard based aggression.
As good as the band was nothing topped Dr. Lonnie Smith’s band the previous night. Dynamics and aggression can make the excitement factor rise and fall in a most redemptive manner. You walk away and remember the moment and feel compelled to share it with others.

Keyboardist Lou Pomanti and I couldn’t wait to review what we heard - the explicit musicianship and control Smith had over the instrument as we recognized each other backstage TD jazz. This is what music that moves does – makes you talk and testify and get specific. With Smith it was all about the three forces in his playing – bass pedals, right hand upper register playing and those counterpoint lines with left hand. So much music in such a small space.
Smith made my night at Horseshoe Tavern. Smith is my main go to guy for Hammond B-3. The organ purrs and growls like a jungle animal - dangerous - at times caressing.

There are exceptional players out there but for my taste Smith is tops.

There is a viper in the cabinet and when it gets loose it distorts, hisses then pierces skin. Oh man, dynamics.. those drawbars push and pull from church to mad funk. My ears were tuned to the house speakers and fixated on his feet. That left foot was in continuous motion the right one - serving up regulated volume and swells. Together they were an insane couple.

Smith knows when to bleed the organ by implementing a judicious build for every solo. When time comes the organ howls and screams. Check out the fans ringside - it was like they were struck by lightening and pinned against the grease stained walls.

Monday, June 24, 2013

In Praise of the Enduring Streetcar (Toronto)

It was 1861 when the first street railway was introduced in Toronto and by last count 2006; 56,000,000 boarded yearly.

I come to my generous affection for the streetcar as a seventeen year old on scholarship the summer of 1963 to study with jazz giant Oscar Peterson.

I stayed with a Christian family on Curie Avenue and would ride the rails for 14.5 cents each way and by the third week of malts and sundaes my allotted monthly allowance was gone. The walk from East side to Park Road was a hot foot-blistering stroll early morning and a stiff leg retreat at night.

I developed this fascination with the people - the many young girls far more attractive than me. The brown leather interior the yellow/brown two tone cars.

The rails screeched and stammered – stops came with a sudden jolt. The driver was usually pissy - sometimes approachable. The older women always curious about what I was carrying under my arms.

“Music,” I would say - so proud and honored to brush against a world of abstraction and grandness.

“You are a musician like Glenn Gould?” They would ask.

“No, Oscar Peterson, the greatest jazz pianist on the planet – he’ll be in class with us today.”

The days were still, the nights prolonged. There was a quiet about the city – an Andy of Mayberry feel.

I would hang my face near the window and watch every stop and savor the radiating beauty of the many girls my age all from different ethnic backgrounds chaperoned my mothers, aunts and grandmothers. The streetcar became a golden chariot transporting dreams of things to come and glowing ambition.

The car isolates and frees us from social contact - a place to curse the world ahead. We can steer clear of that which we want to avoid and delete in life. The streetcar and subway and bus insists we meet, even momentarily and inspect. It reminds us we are humans among humans.

Travel one end of the city to the other and public transportation is busting at the seams – not just 7 AM in morning or 3:30 afternoon; but nearly every waking hour. Cars clog and damage the urban environment. I’m not against, just stating a preference. I prefer biking but that’s not always possible.

I’m sure there’s an amicable solution somewhere where planners and innovators go to meet but this is not something for a prejudiced mayor drop by with wrench and saw. This is better left with those who embrace a liveable city.

We’ve already acquiesced to the condo titans and they have deformed the urban core. The city we know and love is slowly moving towards Bob Marley’s concrete jungle – isolation and ruin. Cut another vessel to the past and we will wither in our self - contained artless hell holes.

Chops on the Menu (Pine vs McLaughlin)

There was a time I reveled in speed madness. Chick Corea ‘Got a Match’ many times did I spin that finger busting ditty. It rippled with complexity and note abundance – every stem hang perfectly placed and calibrated to great effect.  Watching McLaughlin’s keyboardist Gary Husbands hands Olympic track and field sprint from start to finish line was mesmerising.

Guitarist McLaughlin has played big league  nuclear fusion from day one – one of a handful of six string innovators in this genre. Al Dimeloa was there on the same day and the earth cooked up new steam with Return to Forever.

Saw both bands in the early seventies – Mahavishnu at Convocation Hall and RTF opening for Weather Report at Massey Hall. The victor that occasion was Weather Report – simply put – Jaco Pastorius commanded the stage and the audience affection.
I became a bit fixated on the idiom but stayed closer to the Herbie Hancock side with the Headhunters – if it ain’t got funk, it ain’t got me.

Last night McLaughlin was in brilliant form as was every player in his band. The notes still came AK47 blasting – clean, calculated, precise and purposeful. McLaughlin himself has that silver grey look of a younger Kirk Douglas – spritely and confident even when seducing the blues.
Courtney Pine!

What can I say about this act – that’s the key – it’s an act!

Pine played Barbados several years back opening at Sir Garfield Sobers Auditorium before 5,000 folks who come mostly to hear smooth jazz and classic soul.

From the downbeat Pine busted into that circular breathing exercise and never let up. This was back when England was trying to deliver him as a serious jazz player. Talk about a crowd slayer.

All 5,000 got up and left the room and headed towards the great smouldering outdoors for a flying fish sandwich and taste of rum. Now, this is a country with insecurities about mainstream jazz. You couldn’t have booked Dave Brubeck after that encounter.

In recent years Pine has dimmed from view – to much grand talent fighting to get on the tour wagon than deal with this silliness.

Last night it was three chords Soca – each play - the same rewrite of the song previously slaughtered.

Pine began with a bombastic assault. Every trick and gimmick, every circus Lumpkin was exorcized from his soprano sax. It was like he was cleaning the valves – carbon build up.

Now, these carnival acts can be crowd pleasers and no doubt those who had come from the suburbs thought this to be Sonny Rollins at his finest – but those sophisticated downtown elites know a thing or two about con acts. The con was in big time – groveling sax - blowing for an ego massage.

Here’s the big difference between McLaughin and Pine – the battle between art and the artless.

Those twelve notes can significantly move the universe or bury it under piles of useless debris. Last night we witnessed both.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Motown, Smokey and the Cosmic Splash.

We began rehearsing for a flat out raucous night at the Roxy club 1977 in L.A. with the Pointer Sisters in Motown great James Jamerson’s garage. Jamerson was big history, killer funny and a delightful host!

James Jamerson bass, Wah Wah Watson guitar, James Gadson drums, David T. Walker lead guitar and Smokey Robinson’s music director Sonny Burke on Fender Rhodes. I inherited grand piano and clavinet.

I grew up with Motown – the Supremes, Temptations, the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder; so to say I was near entering the zone of mystics would be putting lightly. I just wanted to hear the stories, feel that pulse and look for a welcomed place to fit in.
The rehearsal went well other than Watson was way late and when he arrived the girls placed show music in front of him which he just waved off. He was an effects player not the guy to navigate an Ellington Medley.

The night of gig - one of the great  life conversations occurred just moments before downbeat at the Roxy when Jamerson shifted his stool and spoke: “ Look here Bill, I play back of the beat, Gatson in front – all the territory in between belongs to you.” 
I thought about those instructions until the first beat drop and we were deep in a groove and realize, the space between beats was an enormous crater.

 I started whacking a way on clavinet with Wah Wah pedal in full force and trying to locate the middle. It took a few bars – never played this laid back or controlled. It was all about the groove played by Motown rules. This was how the greats make music. The big up! And now for the big down!

Six months later I find myself in the basement of Marvin Gaye’s sister’s home in South Central L.A auditioning for a gig with a hundred other players for a soul concert at the Wilshire Abel Theater – the headliner Frankie Gaye. Now, you can’t invent this stuff!
A neighbor of ours in Hollywood begged me come along and do the audition – Rick played drums.

We appear and it’s total chaos and big broad hilarity. Shit is loud as ten transport trucks stalling in a living room.
The basement is over packed with hangers-on, dudes from the neighborhood and strangers. We sit through an hour of potential prospects, none who could string two bars of note sense into a complete song, when we are called on.

The leader calls a Smokey Robinson tune – we play with few train wrecks. Phew! - First time today. A second song is called – big success. Suddenly, a guy wearing what looks like a dishcloth around his head points to the back door and kicks most onlookers out – then down to serious business.
A band spokesman comes over and starts giving showtime directions. “When I give you the cue the “Splash” will exit the laundry room and pick up that microphone – they are putting on show costumes at the moment – you guys hit it when I give the word.” I’m hearing and about too bust a laugh rib.

Confusion continues until one guy comes over picks up a microphone plugged into a Fender Twin Reverb and suddenly the sound, “kack, glitch, snatch sprays the room”, ..the sound of a frayed microphone chord in all of its blissful coughing cracking ensues.
Rick and I look at each other barely containing ourselves when ace basement emcee runs in and yells ‘ Are you Ready?”

We hit the intro and somewhere beyond basement sinks and towel rack I hear .. “I never met a girl who makes me feel the way that you do (you're alright) Whenever I'm asked who makes my dreams real - I say that you do (you're outta sight) So Fee, Fie, Fo Fum, look out baby, 'cause here I come,”
‘Ladies and gentlemen – number one soul brothers of L.A. – the mother ship has landed and you are about to be transported by – The Cosmic Splash!” - in full Buck Rodgers space suits - sort of cheap Commodores drag before the first paycheck; smooth dancing their way out of laundry closet to main stage in recreation room.

Oh man, like I said, you can’t make this shit up.

One space creature reaches down picks up microphone and it stings back – fire crackling into one long painful buzz. Then the four try to hand hold together and do harmony bits and dance when microphone gets seriously angry - calls it quits. CS looked beaten like they’d returned from one of those Watts riots after confronting the LAPD.
Anyway, we were assigned  second spot on the bill before Frankie Gaye.

Frankie emerges late in custom cut Rolls Royce and role plays Marvin. Walks on stage looking dashing like his famous brother then opens mouth and nothing comes out but wind barf and  wisp of a fake note. He then proceeds to sing Marvin’s hits absent a voice, but with all the memorized mannerisms. The crowd gets pissed. - many had waited for this clown  late by an hour or two for this – demand a refund.
In between rehearsal and concert I severely sprain my ankle playing hoops so I’m in deep pain and on crutches - just hoping for a quick exit stage right.

Afterwards, we hung around to get paid – the promised $80.
No one comes forth then we get word the promoter fled with cashbox and house receipts. Action moves to the parking lot. Its Mexicans and black musicians with posses on alert - two white guys with summer blond chick, debating who fucked over who? Then guns enter the discussion. At that moment Kristine looks at me and says,” Eighty dollars isn’t worth dying for,” Truly she was on the mark.

I telephone chased the promoter for four months even dropped by his pad– played Sherlock Homes on his ass until he paid half and told me he could have me killed or hurt L.A. style. Truthfully, I got paid more than Frankie Gaye – partial justice was served.
So, tonight I’ll be shooting Martha and Smokey and recalling the craziness of those times, the good, the bad and insane and lapping it up. Long live Motown!

Wllie Nelson ( TD Jazz Festival) 2013

Willie Nelson ..

I’d never seen Willie Nelson live before or photographed. So last night was one of those occasions to chalk up as another-being-there moment, in a life time of being there or nearby.

Nelson in the flesh is much the same as Nelson on video, television, film or however he appears only the flesh is maturing. Eighty brings old skin – snaking river lines that lay down way to many grooves from neck to feet bottoms. This is the stuff the cosmetic industry tries to banish – sorry, but when you’re old – you are old – just like every other aging in-their-time living cell toy on the planet. I see it ever day I pass a mirror on the way to the hair brush. When you’re young you are so pretty – when old – you collect physical remnants of time. If you dress them as neatly as Joni Mitchell – you’re the eternal dream girl – Willie? You’re the guy in need of a change of clothes.

Beyond the rough stuff of aging Nelson was purity – the voice of Texas – the sun-belt. There’s chunks of crushed gravel in the throat – not from a falling building, partially made driveway or developing mall – but from years inhaling the dust and broken rocks the side roads of forgotten America. There’s plenty sorrow in there, drinks that stink and boil in the stomach and one nighters – most forgettable a few playing in reoccurring dreams.

If  you’ve ever hitchhiked the southwest or anywhere you remember the close association with the ground beneath your feet, the air that stings and cools, things that rot cross the road and those that run alongside the endless highways dodging death. You spot the occasional pumping arm of a distant oil rig - black tool working to a regulated beat.

This is Willie’s world and it’s transparent.

The lens just brought him closer – the snap of the shutter froze June 20, 2013 for me.

From the first grinding chords and splintered blues strains Nelson was pure Nelson. You Were Always on My Mind. Then a succession of short takes - hits housed in medley form -three songs and seven mini reminders of the songs that brought him fame and lasting employment.

Much like B.B. King the tour bus will be home until time puts an end to the long drive.

You wonder why players of this notoriety and acclaim still sequester themselves in a minimum feet of space and sleep to the soundtrack of wheels a spinning and then you realize they were born in a time of six nighters, back slapping music lovers in every small stopover, real people who love you for just being and singing about them. It’s a human narcotic – more addictive than crammed stadiums more sporting event than natural and a sensation that never lies or lingers past reality.

Drive on Willie!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tony, First Soprano! (James Gandolfini)

We watched the Sopranos religiously, in fact it was the first series we watched in succession and couldn’t ever cool off the remote.

The show inaugurated our current habit of watching a favourite series back to back with no consideration of outside programming. This is trans-formative in that we now have options and the Sopranos broke new ground. Where did we go after that to feed the Jones? ‘The Wire.’ Who was the same culprit – writer David Chase.

Time spent with Tony was much like waiting for a death mobile pick up. Death could occur most anytime and you rarely had options. Family guy? Oh yes, every morning Tony would lumber down the paved driveway in funky housecoat – pick up newspaper, wait for house to erupt or an urgent call from Pauli Walnuts or Silvio Dante.

We’d witness wife Carmela get kids ready for school – normal suburban children – just playing the good wife, understanding she knew exactly what her husband did and how important it was to believe Catholic, and stay the course. The perks were plenty!

I don’t know if anyone loved Tony other than suffering Carmela and a few playtime cronies but it was sure fun hanging with him at the Bada Boom Club (bada bing) and corrupt work sites. The psycho analysis was absolutely riveting - the place to get a read on the stuffing in his head.

Tony’s mom! Now that was one scary babe. When she croaked there was a sigh of relief. Mothers everywhere rang the toll bell.

Sister Janice – we all disowned her and her cloying games.

Those episodes with Steve Buscemi – ripped – the Swag grab with Christopher and Gandhi (Ben Kingsley) – oh my – could watch over and over.

The murder of ‘Big Pussy”.. those wasted knobs that did nothing and collected paltry and vast sums to prop up dysfunctional families all based on a men’s club - an ongoing brutal frat party.

Loved every minute! Why?

Because we are chicken shits! Crime voyeurs..

You’d really have to have steely nerves; a belief the hereafter doesn’t keep tabs, those murdered didn’t torture and beat the snot out of you for eternity to live like Tony.

Gandolfini was the eye of the hurricane. He was a slow moving front that wreaked havoc every direction over and near land and outer wind speeds rarely cooled – the wreckage formidable.

It was all in the eyes, the body language. What kind of day was Tony having? Is it a kill day or just another adjusting and readjusting his temperamental son? The long empty days and hours never felt comfortable.

We did whatever Tony wanted us to do. We cruised around prowling days with him and sweated through his suffering nights.

When a person dies abruptly the shock is a shared experience. When they die at 51 it’s a stop - deep inhale moment. WTF happened reaction?
By all accounts Gandolfini was the opposite of his screen roles –Mr. Hardwood tough guy - but a shy, caring and nurturing actor. Great actors leave themselves in their roles - we remember – they move on.

For those who were close to him and those of us who can still draw him in our sleep he will truly be missed.

Health is truly all we have – dollars and cents buys us time - sometimes there just isn’t enough coin to keep the clock ticking and running smoothly. Damn!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My thoughts on Joni Mitchell and last night!

The summer 1968 will be forever etched in memory and the night I slipped into the Bitter End in Greenwich Village.

While hanging near the front door conversing with the doorman I heard a voice so angelic and unrestrained do the unimaginable. Then I was told she was Canadian. Seeing her dressed in gypsy prints, a six-string in her lap and twelve-string nearby, long straight golden hair and knowing that made her even more exotic- she wasn’t one of us.

'Farwell Angelina' played over and over in my mind along with the ever present quiver in Joan Baez's voice up until the introduction to Joni Mitchell. Mitchell's voice basked in long pure tones much more contemporary than her predecessors and free of  boxed folk traditions. Much like Dylan, songs spun along according to the free rhythm and roll of lyrics. Words required a reread and melodies resembled an improvised jazz solo.

While sitting at Massey Hall and devouring the three-hour plus celebration I couldn’t help but return to those crowded streets – the tourists, the hippies, the musicians the excitement - a place where Dylan was expected at the Gaslight and Mingus around the corner – the Mothers of Invention across the way.

I’m not nostalgic by nature but last night I allowed myself the luxury.

I got word Mitchell would be singing near end and waited with camera in bag. The rules for photography at Massey Hall come from another era – archaic and out of touch and prohibitive. In fact, treatment of professional photographers borders on insulting. I truly avoid most times when asked. Kristine and I know the drill – we also know if you let rare moments pass you decompress while sleeping it off reviewing every missed opportunity and agonize for weeks, maybe years.

There is too much to say about last night which I’ll leave to the reviewers – that’s their job. I had no plan other than embrace the occasion and hopefully catch the last departing images.

When Mitchell recited ‘Rain’ it was a near out-of-body experience much like the song that followed – “Fury Sings the Blues.” It’s that rhythmic slam of a beat poet – the rap most rappers can never employ. The dialogue that spits and bites – dances, embraces, let’s go - all the while striking all sides the beat. As good as those who stood on stage and sang were and they sung their hearts out - Mitchell stood on moving clouds.

The body vibes in continuous rhythm as if tethered to a world clock and clings to a pulse deep in the soil – the heartbeat of the universe. That pulse beats from side to side, from underneath – taps into every soul on the planet and it’s very unpredictable.

It’s been forty-five years in between then and now and others music in between – and none has surpassed or gained ground on the sounds and words harbored in Mitchell’s frame. This is a night to cling too and share with others – even more so as many of us chase the Yellow Taxi into the golden then dimming years.

Ten big stars for Luminato!

Monday, June 10, 2013

"Hey, Mr. Steinway - play a song for me!"

The Bill King Trio +1 "In the Still of the Night" Live from the Paintbox
You hammer away at the keyboard on so many forgettable options through a lifetime of gigs anticipating that rare moment when graced with a Steinway and asked to perform - leaving memories of unpleasant past experiences on lesser vehicles a suitable distance.
Until recently, jazz clubs have been short of decent pianos. I’ve played the one at the Rex Jazz Bar and seriously the sound disappears before leaving the stage and even when amplified its absent quality. It truly reflects the room – a fun beer hall where jamming and hanging and affordable draft is foremost in folks mind.

With both the Paintbox and Jazz Bistro in play; Brother Steinway is back for the hang. Both are exceptional pianos.
I worked the Bistro (Red Pop) Steinway opening week playing a couple solo sets for a small corporate gathering. One can never judge the dynamic range of a piano without spot on tuning. I mean, top to bottom. The piano for me is just as meaningful top end as middle and bottom - I travel the full length in my sound expeditions.

 That evening, the piano tuning was wobbly but piano fun to play. I’ve yet to hear the instrument fill the room and sing above the lit candles - much to do with finding the right balance. There is a reason concert halls beg experts tune the room.
When I showed for the gig with trio at the Paintbox I was greeted by my great pal and brilliant piano technician friend Wayne Ferguson who quickly goads me about playing a  Roland digital piano on most live gigs. Wayne hears me play live Saturdays on the Ted Woloshyn Show Newstalk 1010 and keeps saying I need a Steinway – a real piano in the studio. I remind him it’s the same room the outlaw Ford brothers inhabit the following afternoon and one could only imagine what would be buried under the lid. Did I say lid?

Steinway and these hands have a long recent history in that I’ve recorded seventeen albums of singers, varying projects, and my own excursions on the nine foot Steinway at Inception Sound Studios with engineer Michael Haas.
I love this piano. The action is like playing on a row of eighty-eight perfectly carved bricks. There’s no slacking with this monster. I practice every day two or three weeks out just for muscle strength and evenness of playing and I’m still scared of the outcome. It’s a ferocious warrior but a most generous giving, loving creature.

The Inception piano has spoiled me. On arrival I sit down and slowly press notes and check tuning then imagine the possibilities moments later. I’m finicky about the top end – to the point if tuning isn’t perfect, I’m won't visit the region and if I do, it will be a flourish - not a prime time stop over.
Wayne did me right at the Paintbox. He pulled everything into the proper zone. The action was smooth, even and easy to command. The tone dressed in resplendent colors. Sitting and observing the shiny black mirror-glossed lid and long body stretch near infinity brought a rush of anticipation.

Steinway Piano Gallery Toronto’s Alex Thomson is the force behind both pianos. The Bistro is an out- right purchase the Paintbox a loaner.
Both jazz clubs are attractive and service? Superb! There’s nothing more comforting than walking in the front door of a venue and the manager smiles – shakes your hand and tells you how pleased and excited the room is having the group. Secondly, atmosphere – stage –  a room full of listeners and exquisite menu.

Kudos – jazz lovers – do embrace!
Oh, to all my brilliant piano playing pals – jump on these rooms and make them work for you. Play what you want and let the pianos dazzle – that’s you Dave, Robi, David, Adrian, Hilario, Gord, Mark, Don and the rest!

A special thanks to my great friend Stephen Smith who never hesitates to video these rare episodes.