Monday, 8 July 2013

JazzFm Jazz Safari

I have never had a lot of money to throw around, but that 1/16 of me that is Scottish knows how to use the  little I have to the most advantage. My children never go without, I've learned to make incredible gourmet meals from nothing (regular quote from Handsome Man 'Really? I had all these ingredients in MY fridge?' ), I find a way to enjoy music and the arts without breaking the budget, and I find a way to SUPPORT the arts that in their way support me. 

A decade ago I was working at a major national retailer as a special events coordinator and wardrobe stylist. The hours and stress were horrendous, but the remuneration was great and my artistic side got to spread her wings. One of the wonderful things this career afforded me was the ability to donate money to the newly baptized JazzFm, formerly CJRT, a new, 24 hour all jazz not for profit radio station. I had just discovered jazz a few years earlier. A co-worker had me listen to (Jazz aficionados, please be kind in your judgement) Rod Stewart's Great American Songbook, and I was hooked. I discovered an on-line chat wherein people played fabulous old and new jazz recordings, then discussed them. Those long lonely nights after I had escaped with my boys from my ex-husbands abuse, and when I wasn't able to sleep because my autistic son needed 24 hour supervision, during those days, jazz, and jazz chat, was my saviour. So when JazzFM came along I became a voracious listener. My youngest son, just barely 4 at the time, had developed a love for Jazz as well, and together we caught Mike Murley and Michael Occhipinti at Montreal Bistro, Heather Bambrick at Top O' The Senator, Oscar Peterson at Roy Thompson Hall, Anita O' Day (where was that? York U? Science Centre?) and have made some good friends along the way. 

So when JazzFm was having one of its very first fund drives, and DJ JaymzBee was offering a Jazz Safari (5 clubs in one night), I jumped at the chance. It was INCREDIBLE . I was the youngest by far on the Safari, in my early 30s, and being a pleaser I made sure everyone was having fun, true social butterfly. I was elected Mayor of the bus and dubbed The Jazz Brat, hence my twitter monicker @torontojazzbrat . We started at Quotes Bar and Grill, went off to some tiny hole in the wall in Kensington Market where we saw Les Singes Bleus (still listen to their CD frequently)then Boiler House (where Al Pacino sat in the curtained off section next to us) ending at The Resevoir. It was incredible. Jaymz was wonderful enough to keep my email and if someone couldn't make it, ie there was an empty seat, he'd let people know and I'd always be the first to jump at the chance

I continued to support JazzFM until unfortunately we had a fire. Lost everything. Took over a year for the insurance to come through, so needless to say, there was no extra to go around. When the insurance finally came through, it gave me the cushion I needed to leave my high-stress, way too many hours per week career and embark on a journey into this latest segment of my life. Nowhere near as lucrative financially, but highly rewarding. I have been saving my pennies and this year I was finally able to afford to donate once again to JazzFM. AND I was able to do so to the point I could take part in another jazz safari!!  I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled I was!

We started the night at JazzBistro, a place I want to succeed but have serious issues with (THAT is for another Blog!) and the extremely talented Eric St Laurent trio. All week, like a kid looking for hidden Christmas presents, I had scoured the club and music ads trying to figure out where Jaymz would take us, but I was WAY off mark! After some yummy Reisling and  a set of Eric St Laurent we boarded a retrofitted old trolley (TRES COOL!) and headed to The Lambton Golf and Country Club. An exclusive venue, not open to the public, where we were treated to the incomparable Alex Pangman in much too short a set. The Alley Cats (Alex`s band) were tight and bopping! loved it, hated to leave. But alas, we had 2 more venues to hit!

As we boarded the bus, Jaymz let on that our next stop was Hugh's Room, one of my favourite venues in the city to see Tim Tamashiro of CBC radio fame. We had no idea of the hilarity to follow, nor did we know that Alex Pangman apparently hitched a ride on the back of the bus! She guested for a song and blew the house away!

The biggest shock of the evening came when Barbara Lica joined the band for a song. I love JazzFM, I do, but the Buble-esque touting of Barbara Lica's name had left me cold, and made me avoid any gig she might be at. I am thrilled to say she made a convert out of me! She has the pureness of voice that Ella possessed, but the gritty emotion of Billie Holiday. Sweet, but just raunchy enough to be accessible. I'm a fan for life! 

We ended the night at Dovercourt house. I live not far from here, and grew up in the neighbourhood. I knew Dovercourt house as a wedding hall ( and a sleazy one at that) so I was surprised by the variety of dance available. It was much too hot unfortunately, but its filed away in my filo-fax of possible fun nights out!

Jaymz, and his assistant Zoe were incredible hosts. My appetite is whet and I think I may drag Handsome Man on some 2 person Jazz Safaris in the near future. Thanks JazzFM for getting me through the hard times and for celebrating the good times with me! 

With the torrential rains outside tonight, and these memories fresh and sweet, I think its time to pour a glass of Pinot, turn on JazzFM and crack open my well-worn copy ( a surprise gift from Handsome Man a few months back) of Ross Porter's 'The Essential Jazz Recordings' 
Life is good

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