Celebrating Jazz in April in Toronto

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April is Jazz Appreciation Month (named by the Smithsonian Institution), culminating on the 30th with International Jazz Day (a project of UNESCO, organized by the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz).

In Toronto, we have another reason to celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month with the opening of a fine Jazz club, aptly named Jazz Bistro, which is giving a new life to the location (251 Victoria Street) previously occupied by the legendary club known as Top O’ The Senator. Elegant, modern and classy, Jazz Bistro was fully renovated by new owners, Colin and Joan Hunter. Mr. Hunter is also the founder and owner of Sunwing Travel Group, and a jazz crooner who has released several albums with Juno award-winning artist Joe Sealy and other big band orchestras.

I’ve been at the Jazz Bistro twice already. The first time on March 28th for a concert with the great flutist and tenor saxophonist Lew Tabackin, who was backed by the Mark Eisenman Trio (Mark Eisenman on piano; Steve Wallace on bass and Terry Clarke on drums). The vibe that evening was fantastic. (See pictures below by our contributing photographer Atael Weissman)

Then I was there for the Media Night on Wednesday April 3rd, which served to introduce the club to the local press and media people. On stage and in charge of live music we had the Robi Botos Trio (Robi Botos on piano; Mike Downes on bass and Morgan Childs on drums) and the Eddie Bullen Quartet (Eddie Bullen on piano, Joaquín Hidalgo on percussion, Roberto Riverón on bass and Elmer Ferrer on electric guitar). (See my iPhone shots below). Every Wednesday by the way, will be the night for everything Latin.

Brought from Vancouver, British Columbia, the “Red Pops” Steinway piano, valued in $100,000 will surely be the talk of live music fans and Jazz Bistro patrons. Maestro Hilario Durán already played on the Red Pops on March 23rd, during Canadian Music Fest (accompanied by Roberto Occhipinti on bass and Mark Kelso on drums). (See pictures below from our contributing photographer Robert Saxe).

A combination of factors will help Jazz Bistro to establish itself as the jewel of jazz clubs in Toronto: central location (in the core downtown area of Yonge & Dundas); elegant venue; refined dining, wonderful music and the fact that the area where is located is undergoing a very important urban/commercial re-development.

After my two visits to Jazz Bistro I thought how listening to live jazz music in a great venue is an irreplaceable experience. I encourage you to celebrate Jazz Month this April and support your local jazz scene. Go out and listen to live jazz music! You won’t be disappointed.