1 year ago

Volume 27 Issue 3 - December 2021 / January 2022

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Many Happy Returns: the rebirth of Massey Hall -- from venue to hub; music theatre's re-emergence from postponement limbo; pianist Vikingur Ólafsson's return visit to to "Glenn Gould's hometown"; guest writer music librarian Gary Corrin is back from his post behind the scenes in the TSO library; Music for Change returns to 21C; and here we all are again! Welcome back. Fingers crossed, here we go.

experience. The second

experience. The second evening of the series on December 15 is a concert featuring performances by Skin Tone and Stephanie Castonguay with a focus on hacking and the use of found technology. Castonguay’s inspiration for her sonic experiments is DIY culture, taking barely audible machines and turning them into playful instruments that reveal the resonances and random sounds hidden within their structures. She will be performing with her self-built light-scanner instruments that use modified scanner heads as audiovisual devices to translate objects built from various materials into sound and moving images. Skin Tone is the solo performance project of James Goddard who has been an innovative leader in Montreal’s independent music scene, creating hubs for DIY music and presenting livestreamed concerts. In his Music Gallery performance he will bring his skills on voice, saxophone, mbira and electronics to create new worlds from sonic distortion. Night three, on December 16, will be a feast of experimental performances by Sa.resi, Deidre, and Vixu who will delve into the worlds of noise, improvisation and different textures of sound. Prior to the concert there will be an opportunity to hear the performers speak about their work within the context of present-day experimental music and their visions for future developments. On the final night of the series, on December 17, in a co-presentation with PIX FILM Collective, Castonguay will speak about the design of her lightscanner instruments and the more recent work she has created with this custom-made instrument. Music for change, indeed. Wendalyn Bartley is a Toronto-based composer and electrovocal sound artist. January 23 | 2022 | 2:30pm St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts VANESSA By Samuel Barber Narmina Afandiyeva Music Director Robert Cooper Chorus Director Featuring artists: Simona Genga Lauren Margison Scott Rumble TICKETS ON SALE NOW! 416-366-7723 1-800-708-6754 MAINLY CLUBS, MOSTLY JAZZ What a difference a year makes! COLIN STORY Just 8760 little hours ago, in December of last year, most of us were hunkering down, keeping safe, and preparing for a very different winter than we’d enjoyed in years past. Visits home were cancelled; stockings were half-heartedly stuffed; home-office chairs swivelled disconsolately from Zoom meetings to Zoom cocktail hours. This year, however, things are looking just a little bit brighter: vaccination rates are up, case rates are down, and – though the threat of the pandemic looms, ever present on the periphery – it is looking as though we may indeed have a more conventional (and decidedly more sociable) holiday season. As of December 16, we will officially be at the five-month mark of music being back in Toronto and environs in the kinds of venues I usually cover in this column. For some audience members, this has meant five months of being back in venues, watching musicians return to the stage after a lengthy intermission, and witnessing restaurants, bars and concert halls sort through the thorny logistics of making COVID-safe adjustments, training new staff and, often, enacting new payment policies to ensure a more equitable and fair disbursement of funds to musicians. For other audience members, the return to live music has been slower, whether because of worries related to COVID transmission, a change in lifestyle, or – as has happened for so many people – a move, enabled by a shift to remote work, from a dense urban area to somewhere with more affordable housing options and more accessible outdoor spaces. Whatever the case may be, there are quite a few exciting shows happening in December. If holiday shows are your thing, there are a number of options, including the Kensington Holiday Bash (December 10, Grossman’s Tavern), A Charlie Brown Christmas and Castro’s Christmas Party (both December 12, Castro’s Lounge), Tom Nagy’s Christmas Experience (December 17, The Jazz Room), and the Jason White Christmas Special (December 18, also at The Jazz Room). A shout-out for The Emmet Ray For great non-holiday-themed shows in a venue that still evokes the warmth, community and good cheer of the season, I have one specific suggestion: The Emmet Ray. Since its opening in late 2009, The Emmet Ray has occupied a unique position in Toronto’s club scene. Unlike venues such as The Rex and Jazz Bistro, The Emmet Ray’s identity has as much to do with its bar program as it does live music. The bar is perhaps best known for its extensive international whiskey options, though it also features a selection of Trappist beer, offerings from local breweries, wine and cocktails. Divided into two spaces, the bar makes no demands of its patrons. In the front room, customers can relax, enjoy their drinks and carry on a conversation in a setting that borrows as much from an English village pub as it does from its more typical College Street counterparts. In the back room, table-lined walls lead to the stage space, complete with ceiling-mounted speakers, Wild Turkey-sponsored backdrop, and, of late, plexiglass panels, to ensure some particulate separation between performers and audience. Like every other music venue in Toronto, The Emmet Ray has had its share of difficulties over the past year and a half. During the height of the pandemic, owner/operator Andrew Kaiser and team quickly pivoted, converting the bar to a bottle shop/grocery store, doing livestreamed shows, and creating courier-friendly kitchen items for home delivery. As live shows returned in July 2021, the bar 22 | December 2021

ORI DAGAN The Emmet Ray's Andrew Kaiser faced another kind of challenge: ballooning insurance costs, at a rate substantially higher than in previous years, as a direct result of COVID-related insurance industry anxiety. Despite all of these challenges, The Emmet Ray continues to go strong. Jenna Marie Pinard In December at The Emmet, there are a number of excellent shows taking place. On December 8, vocalist Jenna Marie Pinard takes the stage. A University of Toronto Jazz alum, Pinard wears many hats. She is the host of Orange Grove Radio, a show broadcast throughout North America, on stations as far-flung as Victoria, Cutler Bay, Florida, and Jackson, Mississippi. Since 2018, she has also run the U of T Jazz social media accounts and is the director of her own company, JMP Media. As a vocalist, Pinard is equally at home with standards as she is with R&B (Jenna Marie R&B has been a popular recurring gig Jenna Marie Pinard at The Rex for a few years now). Though the power of her delivery and the burnished smoothness of her tone may be the first thing that many listeners notice, it is her attention to detail in phrasing and articulation that really sets her apart. Pinard is joined by keyboardist Ewen Farncombe and bassist Caleb Klager, both of whom – like Pinard – are thoughtful, confident jazz musicians who are equally at home in other styles. “Unlike some musicians, I didn’t find myself particularly inspired or soothed by the solitude of the isolation period,” Pinard told me. “Instead I found myself yearning for live shows and communal connection through music.” When Kaiser contacted her about the prospect of doing a December show, Pinard “knew that [she] wanted to do something intimate and reflective, with the goal of deeply connecting to the musicians and audience.” Though this is a sentiment common to most live-performance situations, the immediacy and urgency of the audience-art connection has taken on new meaning in the aftermath of the most stringent lockdown measures. That being said, this will be the group’s second time playing at The Emmet since its reopening in July; the first time,” Pinard said, “was an incredibly restorative experience.” Continues on page 31 A gift that’s ALWAYS in season. Long & McQuade Gift Cards In any denomination. For any product or service. Purchase in-store or online today! Let The Holiday Season Begin! New Album! New Album! December 2021 | 23

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