Since the days when sleazy speakeasies gave birth to saucy numbers like “Gimme a Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer,” jazz and booze have gone together like film and popcorn. Thirsty? Good: the venues tend to depend on patrons drinking up in order to keep the music going.

In the collective “spirits” of spontaneity, swiftness and curiosity, a few days before this column was due, I sent out an email to The WholeNote’s jazz contacts, asking if there were a) any drink specials that our readers might wish to know about, and b) what the most popular drink at their venue was, with an open invitation to share their recipes.

JAZZINTHECLUBS_Robbie_Luster_of_the_TranzacBold and Distinctive, Indeed! “Our top selling drink isn’t a cocktail or a wine,” says Robbie Luster, general manager of the Tranzac (292 Brunswick Ave.). “It’s a bold and distinctive Scotch ale — a perfect complement to the brash, avant-garde jazz we often feature at the Tranzac. It’s traditional with an adventurous and inventive twist. St-Ambroise Scotch Ale is dark ruby red with a tawny head — sweet and malty, with hints of vanilla and butterscotch, and a long hop finish. With its 7.5% alcohol, this beer evokes the classic “wee heavies” or the full-bodied 90-shilling strong winter ales of Scotland. The ingredients are water, pale malt, Munich malt, peated malt and hops.”

Mojito Madness! Short and very sweet: “We specialize in pisco sours, mojitos, margaritas and Cuba libres, and our best sellers are mojitos, pisco sours and Chilean wines,” says Alfredo Cardoso, owner of Latinada (1671 Bloor St. W.). See our club listings for the regular musical happenings at this intimate venue, including residencies for violinist Alex Gajic, pianist Ruben Vazquez and vocalist/guitarist Onelvis Fernandez.

“Our most popular beverage is by far the Mojito Classico,” writes Vas Cranis, general manager of the Lula Lounge (1585 Dundas St. W.). “While mojitos are somewhat trendy at the moment and you can get them pretty much anywhere, it’s truly a rarity to find a spot that makes them properly, the authentic Cuban way. Likely because of the time and effort that needs to go into each one. But as we have a large Cuban clientele that is very vocal when they don’t like something, we stick to the traditional method … we offer a few variations on our classic recipe: the spiced mojito, the mango mojito, the coco mojito and the cherry bomb mojito, all of which go for the same price as the classico ($9.30) but hands down, aren’t as popular.”

Listenin’ with Miles. The signature and best-selling drink at Harlem is the Miles Davis: a two ounce cocktail, blending Jamaican Overproof rum, peach schnapps, mango juice and passion fruit juice. “It’s sweet, intense and powerful. Like Miles!” says Harlem Restaurant owner Carl Allen. There are actually two Harlems — East and West — both great destinations for soul food and live music. Harlem East (67 Richmond St. E.) features Open Jam Night hosted by Carolyn T, which has become a hotbed of local talent, showcasing jazz, R&B, soul, funk and spoken word.

JAZZINTHECLUBS_Lisa_Particelli_with_son_Max_Barkley_photo_by_D_LawsPriceless Moments & Six Dollar Martinis. Speaking of open mics, now in its seventh year is Lisa Particelli’s GNOJAZZ jam — aka “Girls Night Out (where Gentlemen are welcome too).” Particelli founded the vocalist-friendly jazz jam in 2005 and since then well over 1000 singers have graced the stage, from curious amateurs to seasoned professionals. The weekly Wednesday event began in Cabbagetown’s defunct Cabbage Patch (now the Flying Beaver Pubaret) and then moved to Ten Feet Tall (a venue very much missed) before settling at Chalkers Pub Billiards and Bistro (247 Marlee Ave.) in North York. “My fav premium martini at Chalkers Pub is the Chocolate Swirl,” says Particelli. “It’s all about the cherries for me. The best part is that they’re only $6 on Wednesdays during GNOJAZZ. [Chalkers Pub proprietor] Steve Greco launched the $6 martini and free billiards special in January 2011 to celebrate the GNOJAZZ 6th anniversary and he has kept it going by popular demand.”

Connect the Shots. If you love tequila, Reposado (136 Ossington Ave.) calls your name! The Dundas and Ossington joint prides itself on providing more premium tequila than anywhere else in the city, highlighting nearly 70 varieties on their website. Made with freshly squeezed juice, their most popular cocktail is a blood orange margarita, selling over 1500 units monthly! Reposado never fails to attract a crowd on live music nights, so get there early. Among their weekly roster of bands is Spy vs Sly vs Spy: guitarist James Robertson, drummer Sly Juhas and bassist Michael Herring performing classic spy and Spaghetti Western themes, surf and eclectic covers.

Somewhere There’s Music. “Somewhere There is a temple of art, not a den of sins!” wrote back Michelangelo Iaffaldano from Somewhere There (227 Sterling Rd., Unit 112) to my query. “Just kidding. Thanks for asking; we’re not licensed, but we’ll make you a mean cup of green tea at no charge.” Personally I am looking forward to checking out the creative music presented in this space, including an experimental performance of sound poetry on March 13 scored by vocalist Zoë Alexis-Abrams; and on March 20, a saxophone duet by Marian Jago and Paul Newman.

Don’t Sample Them All in One Night! “The Emmet Ray specializes in Whisky from all over the world,” says Andrew Kaiser, general manager of The Emmet Ray (922 College St.). “Canadian, American, Scottish, Irish, and some unique single malts from Japan, France and India. I find sipping on a nice whisky while listening to jazz, blues or rockabilly is a perfect match. The jazz enthusiasts seem to prefer single malt whisky from Scotland … now with a great blues band or rockabilly trio, North American matches it best. The bottom line is, you pair one of our 130 whiskies with one of our 47 beers or ciders, great live music, and you will have just made it a night to remember.”

A Licence to Celebrate. A few months back I wrote about the Gallery Studio Café (2877 Lake Shore Blvd. W.) in Etobicoke, which has been doing very well in recent months, with a new Tuesday night jazz jam featuring a Humber College Alumni house band: Riley O’Connor on drums, Scott Kemp on bass, Scott Metcalf on piano, Shirantha Beddage on saxophones and Lee Wallace on guitar. The Gallery’s owner Derek Houghton emailed me enthusiastically with some big news last month: the venue is now licensed to sell alcohol! On March 10, the sensational Steve Koven Trio will be performing as part of a grand re-opening. Congratulations to Derek Houghton and the Gallery Studio Café!

Please enjoy your beverages of choice, responsibly. Cheers!

Ori Dagan is a Toronto-based jazz vocalist, voice actor and entertainment journalist. He can be contacted at

51It’s not the flower in her hair, the cute dress or the matching scarf and boots. And it’s not just her fierce, soulful tone on the horn that blows listeners away — it’s that Alison Young takes musical chances and has something to say. She’s a jazz musician, yes, “but that can mean different things to different people. I’m glad that I studied jazz because if you’re looking at it as an all-encompassing approach to music, you can take what you learn and apply it towards any genre. So there’s a lot of discipline, but also a lot of room for creativity.” So who has this Young lady spent her time listening to the most?

“When I started listening to jazz, it was always the more soul-influenced players that grabbed my ears. Cannonball Adderley was one of my first major influences, and then I got really into funk. Later on I got into Tower of Power and Lenny Pickett — after seeing him on Saturday Night Live way back when, he became one of my favourite sax players. Then there’s Aretha Franklin. Eddie Harris. Anybody who plays or sings with soul! There are a lot of local musicians who have influenced me in a big way too, like Phil Nimmons and Mike Murley — both former teachers — and countless others. I could go on forever!”

Talented, dedicated and likable, Young is easy to hire. As a side-woman, she plays in more than a few bands and can be heard in a variety of contexts this month: at the Reservoir Lounge with Alysha Brillinger & the Brilltones (Feb 2, 9, 16 and 23 at 9:45pm); at Castro’s Lounge in the Beaches with Big Rude Jake (Feb 4 at 4:30pm); at the Distillery District’s Boiler House with Peter Hill & Christ Lamont (Feb 5 at 11am); back at the Reservoir Lounge with Bradley and the Bouncers as well as Sophia Perlman and the Vipers (Feb 8 and 13 at 9:45pm); and at the Dovercourt House with Roberta Hunt’s Red Hot Ramble (Feb 17 at 9pm). In the midst of all of that, Young will lead her own quartet at the Pilot Tavern on Saturday February 11 from 3:30pm to 6:30pm with Richard Whiteman on piano, Jack Zarowski on bass and Glenn Anderson on drums.

“These are all fantastic musicians I’ve had the privilege of playing with in many contexts over the past few years … I’m excited about this gig! Being a bandleader is entirely different from being a sideman and I plan to do a lot more of my own gigs — and maybe even some recording — this year, but I’m still getting used to calling the shots. I’m used to supporting a bandleader’s creative vision, but I love the idea of being in charge of the musical direction, there are so many things I want to do!”

SPEAKING OF DOING MANY THINGS, Vancouver’s Cory Weeds is not only a saxophonist (, but also a jazz club owner (, record label owner (, radio show host (Chasin’ the Train on CFRO, and he’s a father of two! After firing off a few questions to Weeds, I acquired both insight and inspiration.

As a musician, recording artist, club owner, record label owner, radio host, etc. you are obviously extremely devoted to jazz music. How did this devotion come about?

Well, jazz was always in my household. My dad is a guitar player and music was always a part of my family. I was a typical rebellious teenager and didn’t really figure out how great jazz was until I was in about grade 11. When I graduated from school I didn’t really have any other interests than music so I went to music school (Cap College) and things just grew from there. I knew I wanted to be involved with this music. I had a very entrepreneurial spirit from a young age and when I was about 24 or 25 there was a big lull in the jazz scene here. Not a lot going on. I was mad that I couldn’t go see Oliver Gannon, Cam Ryga, Ross Taggart etc on a regular basis so I decided I should start my own club, so I did. The label was a natural transition. I had been doing radio before that so that continued and musically I was prepared for my career to sort of slow down and stop. The complete opposite happened and I couldn’t be happier. Jazz isn’t a part of my life, it is my life.

What sacrifices (if any) have you had to make in order to own and run a successful jazz club?

Job security, pension, EI, benefits (although I married a school teacher). I don’t feel I have sacrificed much. I have a beautiful wife, two kids who are the lights of my life, we own an apartment, we have a car. I mean what more could someone want? I have all this all while being in the “jazz” business. I feel very fortunate.

There are fewer jazz clubs in Toronto than there used to be … what advice would you give to someone who has a dream of opening one up?

Wow that’s a tough question. Be prepared to dedicate your life to it for at least five years. I mean 24/7. If you’re not a musician then talk to musicians, find out what they like/don’t like about other clubs. Get to know the musicians first. I had the musicians on my side from day one and that is the single most important thing. Try promoting a few concerts locally to get your feet wet. Finally, don’t give up. Persevere!!!

What do you enjoy about playing in Toronto?

I love T.O. and always have. It was the first big city I visited as an adult and the second I would get there I’d head to Sam the Record Man to spend all the money I had on CDs. Now my sister lives there and I love connecting with all my Toronto musician friends. I love playing with Bernie Senensky, always look forward to seeing Kelly Jefferson and Andy Scott and love playing with everyone I get a chance to. I have found that through my club, my label and my own records I have some fans there too which is really nice. Building a fan base is a long, slow process and it’s nice to see the hard work pay off.

If you’re reading this column early enough in the month, you’ve got a few chances to catch Weeds in and around The Big Smoke: at The Rex (Feb 2 at 9:30pm), with vocalist Maureen Kennedy at the Dominion on Queen (Feb 3 at 8:30pm), at the Pilot Tavern (Feb 4 at 3:30pm) or at The Jazz Room in Waterloo (Feb 4 at 8:30pm).

Ori Dagan is a Toronto-based jazz vocalist, voice actor and entertainment journalist. He can be contacted at

Very recently I attended bebop-singing pioneer Sheila Jordan`s 83rd birthday celebration in New York City. There was a great turnout of well-wishers present, including loved ones, friends and pupils. Seconds into the third song of the first set, a rude patron became engaged in conversation and if that wasn’t bad enough, he began snickering audibly, repeatedly, obnoxiously, as if it the Blue Note was a Yuk Yuk’s. ”Shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!” I thought silently to myself, but the insensitive man was unaware of the filthy looks he was receiving from numerous angles. Thankfully, an angered music appreciator approached the clueless culprit and aggressively shushed him, as if putting out a kitchen fire with baking soda. (Heroes like this particular shusher prove that we’ve all got to get over our shyness when it comes to shushing. Sheesh!)


63_jazzintheclubs_mezzettaIn Toronto’s jazz spots, as well, it is usually up to audience members, rather than the venue staff to monitor those who choose to be inconsiderate. Even the most prominent music venues in our club listings do not have a strict quiet policy, in fear of losing business: the likely argument being that those who need to be shushed are often those who order enough to make the live music economically viable.

Since the early 1990s, Mezzetta has been an admirable exception: the Mediterranean restaurant at St. Clair and Christie has been presenting a weekly live jazz and world music series on Wednesday evenings, with a strict quiet policy in effect. St. Clair West has guitarist Brian Katz to thank for initiating this series. An active musician and educator in various genres including classical, jazz, folk, klezmer and free music, Katz reflects on music at Mezzetta:

“Approximately twenty years ago I noticed what appeared to be a charming Mediterranean style new restaurant in my neighbourhood and after visiting just once it struck me as an excellent place — acoustically and vibe-wise — to have a live music series. When I approached the then owner, Yossi Omessi, about the possibility of launching a weekly music series there he, surprise, surprise, seemed incredibly enthusiastic. It only got better: When I suggested that there not be talking while the music was being performed he replied, “of course!” Jane Bunnett and myself opened up the series shortly after to a packed house, and I remained the booker for the venue for twelve years, contacting musicians, writing the blurbs … and eventually running out of adjectives to describe the world class musicians who continue to grace Mezzetta’s stage.”

For the musicians and the audience, how does Mezzetta compare to other music venues?

“In terms of relating Mezzetta to the majority of small, intimate venues in Toronto, the difference is that the crowd comes with the intention to listen to the music (and enjoy a lovely dinner beforehand if they wish), and the musicians walk in knowing that they will be listened to; jazz players especially are often not used to getting such listening attention, and what is strikingly different is that those musicians who are most often accustomed to playing in noisy venues have to actually adjust to the fact that we are presenting an intimate concert, and I believe that brings their playing to a higher level — with the audience being the lucky recipients!  During the first few months of operation, I actually remember one very well-known jazz musician speaking with me just minutes before he went on the stage, insisting that he was sure that people were going to talk during his performance. Goes to show you the “normal” expectation amongst jazz players when it comes to being listened to. I assured him that people came to listen, without talking, and he was pleasantly shocked…I was truly happy to do this for many years, to support the jazz and world music communities, and even happier to see that in time the series could sustain itself without me doing the booking. Safa Nematy, the owner for many years now, does that these days.”

I asked Nemati, how strict the restaurant is about this policy, and why it is important: “At Mezzetta we take our no-talking policy very seriously,” says Nemati. “At the start of the show we remind our audience of this policy and ask them to keep their voices to a minimum volume. I believe that by creating a listening atmosphere, musicians and audience find a perfect setting to perform and enjoy music … the intimate ambience at Mezzetta enhances the experience that could only be found in much bigger concerts.”

The January schedule is not available as of press time, but there will be three concerts in December: baritone saxophonist David Mott in duet with bassist Rob Clutton on the 7th; vocalist Maureen Kennedy with guitarist Reg Schwager on the 14th; and the Roland Hunter trio on will play holiday music on the 21st.


64_jazzintheclubs_hamptonave1Speaking of holiday music, I have two concerts to recommend, both by vocal groups so polished, they sparkle. The first one is a CD release and listening party by Cadence; the group’s new holiday recording Cool Yule will be celebrated on Sunday December 4 at 7:30pm at the Trane Studio. Dubbing themselves as “four men, four microphones, no instruments,” Cadence’s formula is charm, skill, humour and heart aplenty.

Another a cappella quartet appearance of note will take place at the Green Door Cabaret, a new venue which I wrote extensively about in the October issue. On December 9 at 8pm, don’t miss a rare appearance by the Hampton Avenue 4, a distilled version of award-winning vocal group Hampton Avenue, with vocals by Suba Sankaran, Dylan Bell, Tom Lillington and director Debbie Fleming. Expect beautiful arrangements, exceptional musicianship and infectious joy from a group that performs all too rarely these days. Hampton Avenue’s acclaimed CD All I Want for Christmas (1996) will be available for sale. Tickets are likely to sell out for this concert, so be sure to get yours in advance by visiting or by calling 416-915-6747. See you there!

Ori Dagan is a Toronto-based jazz vocalist, voice actor and entertainment journalist. He can be contacted at


53_jazzintheclubs_ernesto1Deeply musical and infectiously energetic drummer and composer Ernesto Cervini is keeping very busy these days: leading his own quartet, playing in the Myriad Trio with pianist Chris Donnelly and bassist Dan Fortin, as well as playing frequently as a sideman. Cervini only recently relocated to Toronto after attending the graduate performance program at the Manhattan School of Music.

“Manhattan was kinda perfect for me in terms of timing. I went there straight after U of T; I was pretty young and very immature. When I got out of U of T I felt that I was a pretty good drummer. Then I got to New York and realized that I really wasn’t! At Manhattan School, I learned how to practise and realized that I had a lot of work to do. That’s where I learned how to make music my life and my career, where I took it to the next level … I realized that this has to be a part of everything in my life.”

In the last issue of The WholeNote, Geoff Chapman reviewed Cervini’s new recording, There, calling it “an album that has to be one of 2011’s best.” In support of the recording, Cervini’s quartet recently came back from a ten-city European tour. The quartet features two New York City-based players: Dan Loomis on bass and Joel Frahm on tenor saxophone, rounded out by fellow Torontonian and recent JUNO nominee Adrean Farrugia on piano. I asked Cervini about playing with this particular band and what the highlight of the tour was for him.

“This band has now gone on three tours together, they are all such good people, which makes it easy and so much fun to tour. No attitude, no divas, they are amazing musicians and amazing people … the tour was really, really great — the audiences were pretty packed and very receptive — we got an encore at every show … 
The highlight? Hmmm. The first gig was very memorable because it was surprising. It was in this artist woodworking workshop, with big tables and saws on them, it was a bit weird, I have to say. In the corner of the room there was a piano and a sketchy-looking drumset, so we were just like ‘whatever, we’ll see how it goes,’ [laughs] we weren’t expecting it to be a great gig. So we went out to dinner with the owner of the place and when we got back it was completely packed and the audience was really into it. It was a really nice surprise.”

The quartet will be touring Canada this month, including three stops in Toronto: at the Rex on November 6 and 7, and at a new jazz venue that Ernesto himself has recently started booking, the Cherry Street Restaurant (275 Cherry St.) on November 24, presenting live jazz every Thursday night.

“It’s tricky in the sense that it’s not on a main street the way the Rex is … but at the same time, it’s a good room, and I am hoping that people will check it out. I think it’s important as musicians that we support it. We all cry that there aren’t more clubs, but we really need to be a part of the promotion, because there isn’t really a huge amount of money in it for the clubs.”

Specializing in pulled pork, smoked brisket and baby back ribs, here’s hoping that Cherry Street’s Thursday night live music series will also attract some listeners hungry for great jazz.

Victor Lewis

54_jazzintheclubs_victorlewisLike Cervini, meaty-toned saxophonist Ryan Oliver also got his masters south of the border, graduating from New Jersey’s Rutgers University in 2009. While there, he met and studied with a variety of jazz legends, including drummer Victor Lewis.

“Getting to know Victor Lewis was certainly a highlight,” says Oliver. “Victor is the drum teacher at Rutgers, and I was already very familiar with his work as he’s the drummer on a lot of my favourite records — Stan Getz’s Anniversary, Dexter Gordon’s Sophisticated Giant, just to name a few.” In addition to his stints with Getz and Gordon, Lewis, a professional since his teens, has appeared on dozens of notable jazz recordings, including ones by Chet Baker, Kenny Barron, J.J. Johnson, Carla Bley and Mike Stern. As an educator, his generosity of spirit had a profound influence on Oliver’s music.

“I was fortunate to get the opportunity to play drum/sax duets with Victor at his rehearsal space in New York on a weekly basis for about a year. It was an amazing experience. We would play through tunes, and I learned so much about phrasing, time and making musical statements, just from being around Victor and hearing him play and talk. He’s also a gifted composer, and we would play through some of his originals during the sessions … one thing that struck me the most was that Victor’s drumming would be so rhythmically strong and melodically clear that you wouldn’t need bass or chords to make these tunes sound. You can hear this depth every time he plays. When I left New York to return to Toronto, one of my goals was to bring Victor up here to play. I’m very excited to bring a musician of his stature to the city. These days it’s not happening as much, and I hope folks will take advantage of the opportunity to hear a real jazz legend. We’ll be playing some standards, some of my original compositions and some of Victor’s tunes as well.”

Catch the Ryan Oliver Trio with special guest Victor Lewis on drums, November 18 at the Trane Studio and November 19 and 20 at the Rex.

Ori Dagan is a Toronto-based jazz vocalist,

Ori Dagan is a Toronto-based jazz vocalist, voice actor and entertainment journalist. He can be contacted at

Yes, toronto brims with many breeds of live music, as this magazine makes crystal clear. But truth be told, this question bears reflection: Can our city, recently named the planet’s ninth most expensive city to live in, sustain a venue devoted exclusively to cabaret? And is it really the ticket price, usually comparable to catching a flick, that keeps audiences away? Or, is it that listening rooms require listening patrons? Whatever the reasons, thankfully, presenters keep trying. The brand new Green Door Cabaret at the Lower Ossington Theatre is hoping to be around for a long time. Robert Missen, artistic director, is working hard to preserve, celebrate and cultivate an audience for this unique art form.

“Cabaret has an intimacy,” says Missen, “and there’s an element of story-telling to the singing which is different from a regular concert. And of course, if you look at the various historical forms of cabaret, you can make the argument that it can be a very interesting tool for political satire or the promotion of certain kinds of humour or music. Since my background training is as a classical singer, I liken it to singing lieder, which is another endangered species of live performance.”

On the challenges of this new venture, Missen is quick to acknowledge the financial limitations on all sides of the equation:

“This is a very bare bones operation … I am not getting paid any salary for this, I get a small slip of the door. The theatre also takes a share, but most of the money goes to the artists, so it behooves the artists to try to get people in. That is really the main challenge. I’ll tell you though, one area that doesn’t have any challenges whatsoever is in the quality of the talent we are presenting. We could be doing shows every night of the week from now until Christmas and we wouldn’t run out of talent worth showcasing.”

To readers who have yet to attend a cabaret performance, what can they expect to experience?

“Come with an open mind and an expectation that whatever you see and hear will be of the highest quality, whether it’s German-style or New York-style or musical theatre or jazz … open your ears and open your heart. From my perspective it’s all about trust. Audiences will have to take a leap of faith, but that leap should be tempered by the reality that what they will hear will be extraordinary. And another important thing: there is no talking during the performances. This is definitely a listening room. The focus is the stage, and artists will not be competing for your attention.”

While booking veterans such as Louise Pitre of Mamma Mia, Order of Canada recipient Joe Sealy and Jersey Boys star Jeff Madden, Missen is also extremely supportive of emerging artists. Last month, one of the first shows to grace the Green Door’s fall lineup was “Liza Live: a Tribute to Liza Minnelli & Friends.” The directorial debut by singer, actor, dancer and performance artist Ryan Graham Hinds featured musical direction by Mark Selby and starred a pair of greatly gifted 20-something comediennes: Jennifer Walls, who zestfully impersonated Liza with a Z and Gabi Epstein, who channelled Barbra Streisand to a tee. Visit our website to taste a video sample of this cabaret!

Performances of special note at the Green Door this month will include Bremner Duthie’s “33: A Weimar Kabarett” (October 15), which will feature songs by Kurt Weill and his contemporaries in the context of Germany’s being taken over by the Nazis, as well as Ray Jessel (October 29), a brilliant Welsh-born composer, lyricist and performer now in his 80s who saw his start in cabaret here in Toronto back in the mid-1950s as part of Dora Mavor Moore’s illustrious “Spring Thaw” revue.

Missen calls Koller Michels (October 22) “among the best jazzers in the country, frankly!” Bassist George Koller and vocalist Julie Michels “… share a unique rapport, like two peas in a pod. The synergy between them is very special. These two are unsung heroes in this country. I mean, a core group of people know them and how great they are, but I think they are deserving of a higher exposure.”

Tickets to all shows at the Green Door Cabaret ( are priced as follows: $30 for reserved seating, $25 at the door or $20 for students and industry people with appropriate identification.

In related cabaret news, Toronto’s jazz radio station JAZZ.FM91 presents the Kronenbourg 1664 Cabaret Series, starting with a performance by critically acclaimed American jazz vocalist, pianist and composer Ann Hampton Calloway on Tuesday October 11 at Hugh’s Room. “We are excited about this venture into cabaret, as it will allow us to expand our horizons and to engage and delight a diverse calibre of audiences,” says Ross Porter, President and CEO of the radio station. Between December and March of next year, three additional cabaret evenings will feature international guests at Hugh’s Room. Tickets are $45, $40 in advance or $135 for a series pass. Tickets can be purchased at

In even more related cabaret news, October 28–30 marks the fourth annual Global Cabaret Festival, this year featuring 150 musicians in 44 performances and taking place over three days. Returning this year will be festival favourites Jackie Richardson, Molly Johnson and Patricia O’Callaghan, as well as performances by a diverse array of artists. To name a mere few, these will include celebrated countertenor Daniel Taylor, eternal hipster Don Francks, enchanting jazz vocalist and broadcaster Heather Bambrick and one of this city’s most outrageously entertaining cabaret artists, Sharron Matthews. All performances take place at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in the Distillery District. Tickets are $25, $20 in advance and $15 for students with valid ID. The full schedule is available at

If you have read to this point, perhaps you will consider putting down the knitting, the book and the broom! As Missen himself said after the Liza Minnelli tribute, “you are now a part of the Toronto underground cabaret movement. Please spread the word!” So by all means, invite your loved ones, your liked ones, your friends and your Facebook friends. But only if they will listen …

Ori Dagan is a Toronto-based jazz vocalist, voice actor and entertainment journalist. He can be contacted

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