Alex Pangman isn’t the only jazz-singing Alex in town. A recent graduate of Humber College, jazz/pop/funk vocalist Alex Tait is a versatile musician and luminous composer with many influences ranging from Jaco Pastorius to Björk Guðmundsdóttir. Be sure to check out Miss Tait’s Toronto Jazz Festival debut on July 2 at Ten Feet Tall 9pm-midnight, with three aces accompanying: Ted Quinlan on guitar, Roberto Occhipinti on bass and Ethan Ardelli on drums. Pay-what-you-can, limited seating, reservations recommended. (

Yet another sensational singer by the same first name is Alex Samaras, a young musician taking the scene by storm with his impeccable taste, flawless technique and penchant for challenging material. Friday July 9 at Gate 403 5-8pm he will be singing songs by Stephen Sondheim, specifically “Sweeney Todd & Beyond” with Ernesto Cervini on drums, Bram Gielen on bass and Tyson Kerr on piano. (

An experimenter in everything from blues to hip hop, vocalist-composer Rita di Ghent has recently assembled Rita and her Jump & Soul Seven, an irresistibly exuberant slice of old-school, with guitarist/arranger Martin Loomer, Bob Brough on tenor, Bobby Hsu on alto, Brendan Davis on bass, Don Laws on trombone, Jake Wilkinson on trumpet and Drew Austin on drums. Don’t miss ‘em Tuesday July 13 at The Reservoir Lounge 7-9pm. (

43_jefflarochelleFor some contemporary instrumental jazz with an edge, check out up-and-coming reedman Jeff LaRochelle, a Humber College student with a bold tone on the horn. His group is playing Tequila Bookworm on Saturday July 31 from 9pm-midnight. The quintet: LaRochelle on clarinet and tenor saxophone, Sabine Ndalamba on guitar, Bora Lim on keys, Julian Anderson-Bowes on acoustic bass and Eric West on drums. (

Not so much a jazzer as a fiercely free improviser, another young musician to listen for is pianist Avesta Nakhaei. A proud member of the Association of Improvising Musicians in Toronto, the York University music grad approaches music with an astounding effortlessness and endless imagination. He performs at The Tranzac on Saturday August 7 from 6:30-8:30pm. (

Great news for Danforth jazz fans! Now in its second year, the “Mosaic Does Jazz in the Park” festival will spotlight the diversity of the jazz genre throughout the summer, every Wednesday, July 7-September 1 inclusive, rain or shine, from 6-9pm in the Robertson Parkette, just west of Coxwell Avenue. This free event is open to all local residents as well as jazz enthusiasts from across Toronto. Everyone is encouraged to bring a lawn chair or blanket, and vendors from local businesses will be on-hand to provide food and refreshments to the listening audience. Acts in the series include Rick Lazar’s Samba Squad, Heather Bambrick and Jane Bunnett; and do not miss the rarely heard treat that is Michael Danso (, a spectacular vocalist and irresistible entertainer, appearing on Wednesday August 11 from 6-9pm at the Mosaic Does Jazz in the Park Festival.

Not only will it be a full moon, but a “Political Party” when JAZZ.FM91 on-air host and man-about-town Jaymz Bee will host an event on Tuesday August 24 at the Old Mill Inn that takes place in eight different rooms! The Dining Room and Home Smith Bar will feature jazz, and other rooms will showcase folk, avante-garde, com-


What a heavenly time to be a club owner, jazz musician or music lover! Although it’s impossible to attend absolutely everything you read about in the summer festival season, the mood remains festive so long as snow is impossible (knock on wood!). But seriously, whether or not it rains, there’s a decidedly warm buzz in the air these days.

Great News!

page_41_annemarieFans of Anne Marie Leonard’s Open Mic (formerly held at the defunct Statlers on Church) will be pleased to know that she is now holding it in the same vibrant neighbourhood Thursday nights at Fuzion, ( located at 580 Church Street just north of Wellesley. Charismatic Leonard currently coaches dozens of performers and accompanies three choirs in the Greater Toronto Area. Listen to her masterful way with the ivories at, and be sure to check out the Thursday night open mic from 9-midnight. All styles welcome. Arrive early to catch entertaining vocalist Mark Cassius with lovely Ken Lindsay on keys from 6-9pm.

Two Much Fun

Speaking of duos, every Torontonian needs to experience Robert Scott and drummer Great Bob Scott, who come across as marvelously mad geniuses. The pair never fails to enchant an audience with their energetic delivery of a diverse repertoire. Scott ( and Scott ( are thankfully easy to catch, appearing regularly three times a week: down at the Novotel at 45 The Esplanade every Wednesday from 7-11pm and Saturdays from 8:30-midnight, as well as Friday nights starting at 9:30pm at the Pantages Martini Lounge located at 200 Victoria Street. Real pianos, no cover!

Attention Piano Lovers

page_42_adrean_farrugiaSpeaking of real pianos, there are two very exciting series to report about: Merriam Music ( in Oakville is launching a monthly piano series on Sunday June 6 featuring Robi Botos, Adrean Farrugia and Stu Harrison showcasing three state-of-the-art pianos. Limited to 100 seats, the series features divine acoustics, wines, cheeses, scotches and an interactive audience component with your questions. Also, Gallery 345 ( at 345 Sorauren Avenue has a nine-foot Baldwin and a seven-foot Steinway, this month featuring a “Piano Jazz Masters” series June 13 with the Matthew Shipp Trio, June 20 with the Mario Roman Quartet and June 27 with the Hilario Duran Trio. Check the website for times and ticket prices.  

Jazz Festival Pride

The TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival will be proudly presented simultaneously with Pride Toronto and the G20 summit! Looks like the world will be in our city, so here’s hoping this helps. In terms of programming, there are dozens of noteworthy choices.

The Headliner

Harry Connick Jr. and Orchestra: consummate entertainer, the famed and photographable New Orleans native makes a welcome return to Toronto, backed by full orchestra at the Canon Theatre on June 27, 8pm, tickets $50-150.

Welcome Returns

Herbie Hancock Imagine Project: the highly influential and critically acclaimed pianist will be featuring songs from his most recent triumph, River: The Joni Mitchell Letters with the Imagine Project, completed by Vinnie Colaiuta, drums, Lionel Loueke, guitar, Greg Phillinganes, keyboards, Tal Wilkenfeld, bass, and vocalists to be announced. Opening set by Juno-winning bassist/composer Brandi Disterheft. Mainstage Concert Series, June 26, 8pm, tickets $55.  

Dave Brubeck: with a legendary career that spans over six decades, his compositional experiments in odd time signatures, improvised counterpoint, polyrhythm and polytonality still turn heads. At 89-and-a-half years young, the consummate entertainer is a marvel to behold. Don’t miss Brubeck’s Quartet as part of the Koerner Hall Jazz Series on June 29, 8pm, tickets $50-75.
Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette: this consistently imaginative piano-bass-drums trio continues to set standards and is aptly known as the Standards Trio. Now in their third decade of collectively breathtaking, mind-boggling, heartfelt musical creativity, these are three grand masters you don’t want to miss. June 30 at the Four Seasons Centre, tickets $47.50-127.50.

It Ain’t Necessarily Jazz!

With hopes of drawing from outside of the jazz pool, the festival has invited pop acts set to make a splash, including Esthero (June 27 at the Lee’s Palace, $24.50), Serena Ryder (June 29 at Harbourfront’s Sirius Stage, $34.50) and Chaka Khan and Macy Gray (July 3 at Dundas Square, free). In contrast, the “Next Wave Series” at the Music Gallery ( will be a magnet for lovers of experimental, envelope-pushing music. One such show will be Christine Duncan’s haunting Element Choir (June 29 at the Music Gallery, $20). Fearlessly conducted, this diverse group of musicians weaves unforgettable webs of improvised vocal textures.

Tribute To A Legend

The jazz world recently lost a genuine legend with the passing of Rob McConnell (February 14, 1935 – May 1, 2010). McConnell was a true renaissance man who wore many hats, earned many accolades and will not be forgotten. The Old Mill’s Dining Room will house a tribute to Rob McConnell’s legacy on June 24.

One, Two, A-One, Two, Free!

As always, the festival offers free-admission shows. The 12-noon lunchtime show on June 30 will be a particularly special performance, for it will be a CD launch by Ricochet, the brainchild of Adrean Farrugia, one of our city’s most creative pianists. When Farrugia takes a solo on any old standard, it’s hard not to be engaged by his playful approach to the familiar; his own compositions tend to be rich with flowing emotion, drawing from varied sources.

“The music is inspired by a need to try and cohesively combine all the things I love in music,” says Farrugia. “The music attempts to fuse jazz, classical, Indian, South African, pop and film-music textures and rhythms into a unified sound, while being equally appealing to both lay listeners and highly trained ears. Creating music that has a wide appeal without making sacrifices is very important to me.”
For everything from fabulous freebies to genuine grandmasters, visit the TD Canada Trust Toronto Jazz Festival website:

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

Live music is the red thread that ties the club listings together, but the ever-expanding list contains everything from extravagant to unpretentious, from dance hall to pool hall. To help plan your next outing, in the spotlight this month are places where dancing and dining are ideal.

Feet first

Dovercourt House: Dancing is the main attraction at the Dovercourt, where Swing Toronto (aka “Odd Socks”) gives happy feet a chance to dance every Saturday! Sensational swing bands set the scene every Saturday from 9:30pm-1am, preceded by two beginner dance classes at 7pm. $13 for unlimited dancing, $15 including one class, $18 includes both classes. On Saturday May 29, a non-profit tribute to influential American dancer, instructor and choreographer Frankie Manning (1914-2009), one of the founding fathers of Lindy Hop.

The Reservoir Lounge: The charming “Res” is one of Toronto’s historic jazz venues, and the only one with a dance floor to boot. Known for being Michael Buble’s old stomping ground back in the day, this club is where you can find great jazz, jump blues, and boogie woogie including endearing acts like Sophia Perlman and the Vipers on Monday nights, Bradley & the Bouncers on Wednesdays and Tyler Yarema every Tuesday and Saturday Night. The fantastic fusion menu is very much worth mentioning and so is the mouth-watering martini selection!

Lula Lounge: Lovers of world music will embrace the Lula World festival from May 5 to 30. If your mom likes to dance, don’t miss Mother’s Day brunch on May 9 with the incomparable Luis Mario Ochoa and his Cuban Sextet, followed that evening by a passionate concert with vocalist Eliana Cuevas featuring Luanda Jones. A double bill on May 12 unites eclectic vocalist Yvette Tollar and Serbian saxophonist Jasna Jovicevic. On May 22 musical director Sean Bellaviti presents Viva Celia: a tribute to the Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz. Full details on this extraordinary multicultural extravaganza at

Hungry? Famished? Pregnant? Craving?  Hear live music here

Aquila Restaurant: Passionate about good food, owner and Chef Jose Corniellis smokes meat the old fashioned way using natural wood, and sticks to organically grown produce. Entrees on the extensive menu include bison striploin ($19.95), naturally smoked salmon ($18.95) and Australia rack of lamb ($25.50); plenty of lunch specials and weekend brunch. Stay for live jazz every Saturday night including “Bari’d Alive” with Anthony Terpstra and Phil Skladowski on the last Saturday of every month.

Ten Feet Tall: This east side eatery is a significant source of good times, thanks largely to its tastefully creative menu. Savoury items include Chicken Imperial ($14), Pad Thai ($14), make your own pizza and the popular new, Mac ‘n’ Cheese Boutique! Live music fits well with the funky décor in this vibrant Danforth spot; Saturday night cabarets go from 8-10pm and Sunday afternoon jazz matinees go 3:30-6:30, no cover charge, reservations encouraged.

Plum 226: Formerly the Anabella Lounge, this charming new Cabbagetown room is under new management and has recently reopened after renovations. Below the restaurant, the intimate 30-seat lounge has much to boast: an appetizing Italian menu, friendly service, stellar atmosphere and priceless live music. Romantic, elegant and reasonably priced, this is a great date destination! Exquisite tapas, pizzas and pastas, and mains including Atlantic Salmon ($20) and Sea Bass ($23). Catch the Lisa Particelli Trio on Friday May 21, No Cover, 8-11pm. Norman Marshall Villeneuve plays the last Friday of every month.

Happy Birthday To NMV: Speaking of Norman Marshall Villeneuve, the veteran jazz drummer celebrates his 72 birthday at The Pilot Tavern on Saturday May 29th from 3:30-6:30pm.

Rarities & Reservations

Funny how some patrons seem to have reservations about making them. Or perhaps, they forget. In any case, to avoid disappointment, be sure to buy your tickets or book your seats in advance. The following rare appearances are definitely worth reserving for:

p46The Old Mill: Thursday May 13, 7:30-10:30pm, experience the world-renowned talents of the Peter Appleyard Quintet in the Old Mill’s Dining Room. British by birth, Appleyard made Canada his home in 1951 and has since enjoyed a glorious career as studio musician and television personality. At 82, he still swings like nobody’s business. Joining Appleyard in concert will be four fine gentlemen of jazz: guitarist Reg Schwager, pianist John Sherwood, bassist Neil Swainson and drummer Terry Clarke. $35 Cover. Also at the Old Mill this month, on May 7 and 8, a two-night stint with gifted pianist, vocalist and composer Laila Biali at the Home Smith Bar with bassist Jordan O’Connor and drummer Ben Wittman.

Chalkers Pub: Saturday May 15 from 6-9pm, don’t miss a rare club appearance by seasoned vocalist Lisa Martinelli, an expert jazz educator at Humber College, The University of Toronto and formerly York University. She’ll be accompanied by Adrean Farrugia on piano, Pat Collins on bass and featuring Kevin Turcotte on trumpet. $10 Cover. Also at Chalkers Pub, don’t miss two Donny Hathaway Tributes this month starring the sensational Michael Dunston Sundays May 2 and 16 from 7-10pm, $20 cover, available online at or by calling 1-888-222-6608.

Hugh’s Room: Tuesday May 18 starting at 8:30pm soulful vocalist Sacha Williamson showcases her heartfelt music heard all too rarely in this city. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door…you know the drill!

Speaking of buying your tickets in advance, the TD Canada Trust Jazz Festival has announced the lineup for this year’s edition, and certain shows are bound to sell out. Headliners include: Nikki Yanofsky (June 25), Herbie Hancock Imagine Project plus Brandi Disterheft (June 26), Harry Connick Jr. (June 27), Stanley Clarke Band featuring Hiromi (June 28), Dave Brubeck Quartet (June 29) and Keith Jarrett with Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette (June 30). Full details available at

eisenmanKey into your browser and you’ll be in youtube heaven. By clicking backspace twice and adding an “eh” to produce, you’ll be linked to one of Canada’s most treasured jazz pianists, Mark Eisenman. The New York native has been Toronto-based since 1972, and has previously worked with Lew Tabackin, Barney Kessell, Ed Bickert, Rob McConnell and Pat LaBarbera. A top-notch vocal accompanist and long time jazz educator at York University, he’s often found “in any situation where taste, feel, and a jazz sensibility are important.” 

The cruelest month finds Eisenman fairly busy: on April 9 he accompanies vocalist Arlene Smith at the Old Mill; on the 11th he’s part of a tribute to Louis Armstrong at Christ Church Deer Park; on the 15th he plays solo piano at the Palais Royal Ballroom for the Houselink charity Auction; on the 17th his trio headlines the Piano Masters Series at The Old Mill; on the 24th his trio plays Roy Thomson Hall as part of the “Spirit of Toronto Whiskey Show”; and on the 25th his trio is back at Christ Church Deer Park. See our concert listings and jazz club listings for more details.

Being busy is good for the uncompromising Eisenman, a pianistic purist who won’t settle for electronic keyboards. His passion for the acoustic pervades Pianos are Orphans, a spirited rant he wrote and sent to us about “the problem with pianos.” At the root of the problem, he says, is having to  hire “highly trained crafts-people to even tune the instrument.” He also details the neglect the instrument suffers: “Drinks have been spilled on it, it has been sitting near a heat source, without climate control … it has been treated like a piece of furniture, not a highly complex musical instrument. No one is responsible to it, and for it. The only people who can speak to its condition have a great incentive to keep their respective mouths shut. After all, managers don’t want to hear about something that will just cost them money, especially when they can’t hear the difference.” (You can read Eisenman’s entire text online at

The following excerpt from Pianos are Orphans has haunted me for weeks now: “You can see the problem. A piano in a public venue is an orphan. It’s not just an orphan. It’s a poor, neglected, abused, fetal alcohol syndrome, crack baby that grows into one pathetic old beast that can break your heart.”

Is Eisenman overdramatizing just a little?  The sad truth is, not much. To echo Jim Galloway, Toronto today is not what it used to be, and this is certainly true in terms of piano rooms. It is sad to note that in the entire WholeNote jazz club directory which has now surpassed 60 locations in Toronto where you can regularly find live jazz, it’s hard to come up with a dozen of them that offer an acoustic piano that’s even remotely in tune.

Here then are ten recommended live music venues where you can find jazz played on an acoustic piano, accompanied by April highlights:

              Lula Lounge: Artist, musician, actor, and spectacular poet Don Francks ( will wow with pianist Steve Hunter on Thursday April 15 starting at 8:00 pm. Priceless Francks will be followed by Word Jazz: original poetry set to music, performed by Dale Percy, Chris Hercules and Jaymz Bee. $20 general, $10 for students.

              Hugh’s Room: Legendary Danish harmonica player and manufacturer Lee Oskar ( is showcased with the David Rotundo Band on Wednesday, April 21 starting at 8:30pm. Oskar is heralded as one of the world’s greatest rock-blues-soul harmonica players. This show will likely sell out at $25 in advance, $30 at the door.

              The Old Mill: “Mays at the Movies” starring legendary New York pianist Bill Mays ( with bassist Neil Swainson and drummer Terry Clarke, as part of the new Thursday Night Jazz Club series at The Old Mill. April 22 at 7:30pm, $30 Cover, no minimum.

              Chalkers Pub, Billiards & Bistro: Shannon Gunn Quartet on Saturday, April 10, 6:00-9:00pm, featuring Brian Dickinson (piano), Neil Swainson (bass), Ethan Ardelli (drums), with the leader on voice. Originally from the West Coast, Gunn is a highly sought-after educator who understands and feels jazz in a profoundly deep manner. $10 Cover.

              Axis Gallery & Grill: Located in the Junction, this art hub is where you can find Juno-winning Blues singer/pianist Julian Fauth ( with bassist James Thompson every Saturday and Sunday from 12:00-3:00pm. The piano’s far from faultless, but Fauth’s magic touch is formidable.

              stacey bwN’Awlins: Live jazz nightly in this cozy, elegant King West spot where magnificent Stacey McGregor ( plays solo piano every Tuesday from 7:00-11:00pm.

              The Rex Hotel, Jazz & Blues Bar: The Richard Whiteman Trio ( plays every Wednesday this month, 6:30pm. Whiteman is a great player who always solos with gusto. He’s also one of the charming Hogtown Syncopators who lighten up the Rex every Friday from 4:00-6:00pm. Pay what you can, generous people!

              The Pantages Martini Bar & Lounge: Fridays at the Pantages Hotel find the always impressive Robert Scott ( paired with positively outrageous Great Bob Scott ( Now that’s entertainment!

              Gate 403: Dazzling songstress Gillian Margot ( delivers the goods at the Gate on Sunday April 11 at 9:00pm with Stu Harrison on piano and Jordan O’Connor on bass.

              Ellington’s Music & Café: Good mornings with Ben D’Cunha ( playing piano and singing at this artsy St. Clair West hang, weekdays from 9:00-10:00am. Yup, you read right.


Have I left out a grand piano room? Send me a note by emailing and I’ll do my best to mention it next time.

Finally, still speaking of pianos, don’t miss out on what Jane Bunnett calls her “most important and exciting concert in 20 years” when Art of Jazz presents a very special event at Koerner Hall, April 17 at 8:00pm. Flutist and soprano saxophonist Bunnett will be joined by three generations of Cuban Piano Masters: Hilario Duran, Elio Villafranca and 83-years-young Guillermo Rubalcaba. Tickets range from $20-50 and are available at For what promises to be a harmonious evening you can rest assured that those pianos will be in tune!


The tragic earthquake in Haiti inspired three highly spirited full houses at Hugh’s Room, thanks to the fundraiser’s organizer, three-time Juno Award winning jazz artist, Jane Bunnett. The January 12 disaster came just days shy of what would have been Haiti’s 4th Annual Jazz Festival, an event which would have brought Bunnett’s band Spirits of Havana to the country for concerts on stages and workshops in schools. Heartbroken over the devastating disaster, she worked prestissimo to arrange the fundraiser.

47_jane bunnett“January 28 was available, so we took it, and it sold out quickly, so we booked January 31 and when that sold out we got February 1. It was so fast - the poster never even went out! I felt funny asking the musicians if they were available for a third night.”

Artists who donated their talent include Don Thompson, Hilario Duran, Molly Johnson, Laura Hubert, Amanda Martinez, Telmary Diaz, Dionne Brand, Madagascar Slim, Bill King, Sophie Berkal-Sarbit, Big Rude Jake, Chris McKool, and Bunnett’s own Spirits of Havana.

“I was truly amazed by the generosity of the people. We raised $40,722 and when the Canadian government matched it, the total was over $80,000.” Notably, Mario Romano made a remarkable $25,000 contribution and several people wrote thousand-dollar cheques, all funds going to Doctors Without Borders.

Three days prior to these happenings, “Curtain Down for Haiti” was a tremendous success at the Pantages Hotel. The January 25th fundraiser raised over $2000 for the Red Cross, most of it coming from the thin pockets of young musical theatre artists. The evening was co-produced by Jennifer Walls, Amy Smith and the multi-talented host of “Curtains Down”, Jenni Burke.

47_ jenni burkeAffectionately nicknamed Jenni B, Miss Burke is a contagiously warm, funny and versatile stage presence. Her open mic “Curtains Down” is a weekly Monday night geared to singers of musical theatre, pop, jazz and cabaret, all of whom owe much to accompanist Michael Barber on the piano. By turns hilarious, dramatic, sweet, tragic and generally flamboyant, “Curtains Down” is an impromptu variety show that is consistently entertaining. Now held in the Pantages Hotel lobby, which is steps from Dundas subway station, and for a limited time every Monday: $5 martinis and wine! The latest updates about this event can be found on the “Curtains Down” Facebook Group or

Speaking of open mics and community, one of the highlights at Lisa Particelli’s Girls Night Out vocalist-friendly jazz jam 5th anniversary show at Chalkers ( was a performance by popular television personality Fred Penner, who delighted everyone present with “The Cat Came Back”. The beloved Mr. Penner comes back to Hugh’s Room on March 18th. Kids of all ages absolutely must check out his website!

At 19 years of age, prodigious drummer Adam Arruda is set to take the jazz world by storm. Awarded the Zildjian Outstanding Young Drummer Award eight years in a row, he is reportedly working on relocating to New York City. While he’s still in town, check out astounding Arruda’s anticipated tributes to groundbreaking jazz composer and pianist Thelonious Monk, “The High Priest of Bop”, on the nights of March 4 at The Rex Hotel and March 25 at Tequila Bookworm. If anyone deserves two tributes in one month, it’s the man who was the opposite of square and whose middle name was Sphere! The two evenings will inevitably be very different, not only venue-wise but also in terms of instrumentation. Joining Arruda at the Rex will be none other than Dave Restivo on piano, Michael Davidson on vibes and Pat Reid on bass; at TB he’s hired Trevor Giancola on guitar, Michael Davidson on vibes and a pair of bass players: Dan Fortin and Devon Henderson. To sample Adam Arruda check out

47_alex pangmanSeeking inspiration? Canada’s “Sweetheart of Swing” is a walking, singing miracle that sweetly swings from her great big heart. After years of fiercely battling cystic fibrosis, Alex Pangman recently underwent a successful double-lung transplant and is now singing with more air than ever before. Her musical style is rooted in the “trad” jazz singing of the 1920s and 30s, all her own but reminiscent of Mildred Bailey, Annette Hanshaw and Connee Boswell. Catch the tantalizing jazz of Alex & her Alleycats – Dr. Peter Hill on piano, Ross Wooldridge on clarinet, Chris Banks on bass and Chris Lamont on drums – at The Rex Hotel on Saturday, March 20 starting at 9:45pm. Pangman can also be heard every Sunday 7-9pm with hubby Tom Parker’s tasty country band Lickin’ Good Fried at the Dakota Tavern.

On to a new and noteworthy house gig on the Danforth: Roberto Occhipinti’s trio now holds down a weekly Saturday matinee from 4-7pm at the Dora Keogh Irish Pub, just steps from the Broadview subway station at 141 Danforth Avenue. Occhipinti’s on bass, Hilario Duran on keys, Mark Kelso on drums and weekly special guests such as star saxophonist Pat LaBarbera. Priceless music, no cover charge, and no you can’t get a better deal than that!

The Brampton community has a brand new opportunity to embrace live jazz, with the fancy Fireside Jazz Series Brampton, Friday and Saturday nights at Aria Bistro & Lounge. This certainly isn’t a No Cover situation, but if you can treat yourself plus one to a romantic evening out, the menu and venue both look promising. Reservations are “a must” with seating limited to 40 patrons and “Dinner & Show” packages that start at $75: Playing at Aria on March 5 and 6 is this reporter’s current favourite singer Laura Hubert with dependable Dr. Peter Hill on keys. Hubert’s band can also be found at the Rex Hotel on March 13 for their monthly Saturday matinee 3:30-6:30pm as well as every Monday night at the Cameron House for a 10-midnightish nightcap.

Ori Dagan ( is a Toronto-based jazz vocalist, voice actor and entertainment journalist. He can best be reached by email at

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