8 years ago

Volume 7 Issue 3 - November 2001

  • Text
  • Toronto
  • November
  • Jazz
  • Theatre
  • December
  • Symphony
  • Arts
  • Quartet
  • Wholenote
  • Glenn

During the 70s and 80s,

During the 70s and 80s, jazz activity became far more centralized in New York than had been the case during the first twothirds of the twentieth. century. Now we are seeing a revival of jazz centres beyond the Big Apple, and Toronto stands alongside Chicago and San Francisco at the forefront of this regional renaissance. Our network of jazz · musicians, venues, festivals, education programs and specialized media is one of the largest and most diversified on the continent. It's no accident that we are one of only six North American cities that support a 24-hour jazz radio station, Jazz.FM91 (anchored by Ted.O'Reilly, who has, for more than 30 years, been the voice of jazz for thousands here). Visiting musicians sometimes see our jazz depth more readily than we do. The economics of the business have made travelling without a self-contained unit a fact of jazz life. · Visitors know that they will not only find that most elusive animal, a good rhythm section here, but will have the luxury of choosing from a menu of worldclass units. Our pool of major talent extends far beyond the luminous cluster of Toronto musicians -- Rob McConnell and the Boss Brass, Pat LaBarbera with Elvin Jones, Freddie Stone with Duke Ellington -- who helped to put the city on the map. But the most important measure of what makes a place a jazz town or not is the extent to which it affords opportunities to hear live jazz on a daily basis, and here Toronto truly shines, both in the context of an unusually rich summer festival scene, and, increasingly, year round. YEAR-ROUND VENUES How active is the local scene? Take a look at the club and concert listings on the preceding two pages. Any given week, you can choose your style of jazz and go listen. In fact, once you get to know the venues, on almost any given night of the week you have the pleasurable task of having to make a choice! Two clubs, The Montreal Bistro and Top 0' The Senator, are, if you like, our flagship venues, known throughout the jazz world. Both present "name" artists on a regular basis. ("Name" isn't necessarily U.S. either - homegrown masters, like Phil Nimmons or Guido Basso, to name a couple, shine there too. •:• JAZZ AND BAND•:• JAZZ SCENE, LISTINGS ALL THAT'S JAZZ Some key factors in Toronto's rise aS a jazz town by Jim Galloway and Philip Ehrensaft A third major club, the Rex, makes an outstanding commitment to showcasing Toronto's own jazz musicians. Two different ensem-­ bles are featured each night of the week, with an extra group on Saturday afternoons. Located on the hot Queen Street nightclub and restaurant strip the Rex is a first gateway to jazz for a lot of younger people who wander in for a first listen to this stuff called jazz. ·A lot come back. Three "majors" don't make a city a jazz town, though. What counts more is the extraordinary number of rooms presenting jazz on weekends or maybe once a week. Cumulative experience of jazz in coul).tless smaller venues is what makes jazz a living presence in the community. (Notice, we said a "living presence" not necessarily a living! Even our top musicians only get to play a few times a year in the major clubs, and the pay at smaller venues is low indeed for the years of training it takes to become a THE FESTIVALS Putting the year-round scene at the top of the heap this way is not a dismissal of the importance 9f the festival scene. Even with the recent renaissance of jazz clubs, there are still nowhere near as many around as from the twenties through the sixties. When it comes to the musician's prime imperative - paying the rent - it is the festivals that have taken up the slack. As with clubs, the Toronto arell has three majors when it comes to festivals. June brings two overlapping major events -- the Toronto Downtown Jazz and JVC jazz festivals: Like the Bistro and the Senator, each offers big international names, along with respectfully ample opportunities for the local jazz community to show what it is made of. Our choice for third' "heavy hitter" may surprise you: held in Guelph during the second weekend of September the Guelph Festival is major in artistic importance, if not in attendance numbers. It has become, ·in short ·order, one of the internationally eminent showcases for avant-garde jazz and improvised music. And, indicative of the vibrancy of jazz here, are the three 20 wholenote NOVEMBER 1, 2001 - D ~CEMB E R 7, 2001 smaller, community-based festivals that take place in between Downtown/JVC and Guelph. Two are in suburban locations:. Oakville in early July and Markham in mid-August. The third and oldest takes place in the Beaches neighborhood of Toronto, and is as fme an. instance of a community jazz festival as you are likely to find on this continent. Each of these festivals features one big show by an internationally eminent musician, but the back-­ bone of the event is the dozens of first-rate Toronto jazz ensembles who take over the streets and stages . LEARNING Training to become a jazz pro used to take place through informal mentoring. Now formal college or university training has become a usual step along the way to the jazz life. Teaching salaries can, in this way, become one of the economic main_stay_s of a corruµunity in. keepmg Its top-drawer tale~t m , town. Here too Toronto shmes. professional musician. All the more Close to 500 students are presently remarkable then the wealth of enrolled in one of the three jazz opportunity' for p~ople to hear and programs offered here: b~ . love jazz around town.) Humber College, the Umvers1ty of Toronto, and York University respectively. Seventy-six professional jazz musicians, mostly on a part-time basis, are employed as faculty members. This year, Humber College, the largest of the three, has a staggering 41 ensembles playing in a wide variety of scyles. By no means all of these students will become full-time jazz musicians, just as most graduates of classical conservatories will not land jobs in symphony orchestras (and one has to be thankful for that, given, the shortage of gigs out there). But they are grounding their interest in the music -- becoming lifelong members of the jazz community and culture. RECORDING In the Darwinian world of jazz recording, Toronto has a place, thanks to the survival here of one of the most respected small indep-· endent jazz labels in the world -­ Sackville Records. Founded in 1968 by John Norris and Bill Smith, Sackville has produced more than a hundred recordings over the years, to high critical acclaim, and representative of a wide spectrum of the music. Two other small Toronto labels are worth mentioning, both run on a "co-op" basis by musicians: Unity Records and Cornerstone. And in the specialist world of re-mastered, re-issued historical recordings, Jazz Oracle has a fascinating catalogue of rare recordings from the 20's and 30's. To this quartet you can add the dozens of individual artists and bands. producing their own albums, giving the little guys a voice, and hopefully some return. The blunt reality is that for your average jazz CD, sales of 1000 are considered very good. Hell, it gives you enough money to make another one! The majority of jazz record sales take place now via mail order, the Internet and off the bandstand. Sackville is an · excellent example of tJiis "cottage industry" approach. The r-eality is that the major labels, their eyes pretty well riveted on the bottom line, are not, for the most part, interested in jazz recordings. And they have retail distribution space pretty much sewn up. WoRDs AND Music There's an old saying that the way to make a million dollars running a jazz magazine is to start out with two million dollars. Jazz fans read avidly about the music that they love so much, but the nichepublishing sector that serves them is as pitiless as the jazz recording sector. Here again, though, Toronto has two remarkable survivors Coda, and Jazz Report. Coda is oriented, .though not exclusively, towards the avantgarde side of things. It has been going since 1958 and has acquired an international reputation for serious, in-depth jazz journalism, . with the majority of Coda's subscriptions now sold outside Canada. Bill King, one of Toronto's solid jazz pianists, publishes Jazz Report as well as organizing the Beaches Jazz Festival and an ambitious new jazz industry web site, Now in its fourteenth year Jazz Report's focus is the Canadian, and especially Toronto, jazz scene. Jazz journalist, Mark Miller, one of North America's best, is, like Ted O'Reilly, a Toronto jazz institution. In addition to his writing for the Globe and Mail, Miller's books on Canadian jazz are essential reading. A new book The Miller Companion to Jau. in Canada and Canadians in Jau. (The Mercury Press, Toronto) appears later this month. ·We are also fortunate that our biggest daily", the Torontci Star, takes jazz Continues page 45

·:· MUSIC THEATRE: SPOTLIGHT Brush Up ·v our Shakespeare ... And Your French! By Sarah·B. Hood Godin, Jessica Heafey and Lyne Tremblay. Marie-Line Ross is at It's hard to think of a true .the piano, and Claude Maubert film musical made after provides musical arrangements. Grease in 1978 ..(Some might The TFT is one of the least think of Moulin Rouge; some appreciated producing companies might mention Woody Allen's in Toronto; their production pleasing Everyone Says I Love values are unfailingly high and You.) their choice of work is consist- Well, if you regret the ently interesting. If this production passing of the form, you might is half as good as their Brei revue like to know that there's a film of a few years ago, it'll be one of version of Kandor and Ebb' s the music theatre highlights of the darkly sexy 1977 show Chicago season. It runs at the Berkeley being shot right here in Toronto. Street Theatre from November 7 Before his death the legendary to 24. Bob Fosse, who choreographed Those who like to peek into the the Broadway original, had crystal ball of upcoming music planned to direct a film version; in theatre productions should pop those days Madonna was rumoured to be on the list of down to the CanStage rehearsal hall between November 14 and 16 possible stars. to see the preview of Allen Cole Now Renee Zellwegger (as and Michael O'Brien's The Roxie Hart) and Catherine Zeta- Miracle Man. Jones (Velma) have been given the Cole is often drawn to ~:;:0~ 0 ~n~f~~i:g~~~~!.?:::PPY projects that have a magical . elements to them; fairy tales in stilettos in the cynical tale of particular. His Hus.I:(, inspired by murderesses on death row in the the stories of "The'Pied Piper" '20s. Richard Gere plays nasty and "The Nightingale" ' premiered lawyer Billy Flynn, with Kathy at Theatre Passe Muraille in the Bates as prison warden Mama late '80s. He spent three years in Morton; star-spotters, take note! British Columbia as Artistic In 1998 Guy Mignault, artistic Director of the Caravan Farm director of the Theatre Francais de Theatre, and has recently returned Toronto, won a Dora Award for to Toronto to present a couple of Best New Musical for his creation' other new works: The Juniper C'etait un p 'tit bonheur. Now he's Tree, a Brothers Grimm tale taking a second shot at the genre adapted by playwright Maristella with a pastiche of French songs Roca that was a hit of the Toronto that sketches· the major events of Fringe a few years ago, and The the 20th cenriiry. The composi- Crimson Veil at Factory Theatre, tions of famous European artists which·was based on Italian fairy tales. like Yves Montand and Jacques Without knowing more than the Brei are mixed and matched with title, it sounds as though Cole may the work of Quebec stars like be applying his creative and Gilles Vignault and Felix Leclerc, distinctive sounds to another tale and interpreted by Sebastien of magic in this production . ...,.......,........,F...,r""ance Gauthier, Robert November 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, 30, December 1, .2001 Tickets ·00 I Groups of 10 or more ·00 Students ·00 Evenings: 8:00 p.m. Sunday Matinees: 2:00 p.m. tlO REfUtlDS ul !'!!!J~!!!!!!!!!J!l!!!!!!!!~!J Burnhamthorpe Auditorium - 500 The East Mall, Etobicok,e (just north. of Burnhamthorpe Rd. at H wy 427) ~ presented by ~ ETOBICOKE MUSICAL PRODUCTIONS University of Toronto Faculty of Music Opera Division presents Benj;imin Britten's sparkling comedy of English village life November 14, 15, 16, 17. MacMillan Theatre. 8 pm , seniors/ students. Call 41 6-978-3744 Stephen Ralls, conductor Maria Lamont, stage director Fred Perruzza, production designer Diane McCann, costume designer M Sponsored by iiiil Bank o f Montreal FACULTY •/MUSIC rL~ N\ ,UNIVERSIT Y OF TORONTO N OVEMBER 1, 2001 - D ECEMBER 7, 2001 whole note 21

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