An Imbayakunas moment from the Beaches Jazz Festival

The annual Beaches International Jazz Festival took place this year in July. I went down on a very hot Friday evening for the Streetfest on Queen Street East. I really enjoyed listening to the Imbayakunas, an uplifting fusion of traditional instruments and modern beats from Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. Their incredible flute and guitar synchronized music kept the crowds dancing all night. Check out this Vine which I made.

 

A member of Imbayakunas

A member of Imbayakunas

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Memories from Luminato 2014; The Souljazz Ochestra

Luminato 2014 was undoubtedly one of the best festivals so far this summer.  My favorite performance was the jazz group The Souljazz  Orchestra. They were playing at the Festival Hub on David Pecaut square, on a glorious summer evening June 12th. The group has multiple nominations and won many awards, including Top Jazz Album Award for 2014 from Popmatters for their latest album Inner Fire. They play a highly spirited brand of modern fusion jazz, with touches of Soul, Latin, and Afro-beat rhythms. Watch these guys, I can see great things ahead for this group! A few pictures from the Festival Hub at Luminato;

 

Souljazz Ochestra

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The Unforgettable Muhtadi Drumming Festival 2014 At Woodbine Park

Under a blazing, almost African sun, Woodbine Park in Toronto shook to the sounds of the 15th Muhtadi International Drumming Festival this past weekend. The main acts featured drummers and performers from Canada, Brazil, West Africa, the Caribbean and even Chinese drumming.  This annual festival continues to be one of the best and most popular summer events in Toronto with world-class artists and highly absorbing rhythms. You can’t resist moving those bones when those drum beats hit your ears, and your heart. Here are some pictures.

Muhtadi International Drumming Festival

Beyond Sound Empijah

Muhtadi & The World Drummers

Muhtadi & The World Drummers

Muhtadi International Drumming Festival 2014

Maracatu Baque de Bamba (Afro Brazilian)

Muhtadi International Drumming Festival

Aline Morales and Baque de Bamba

Muhtadi International Drumming Festival

Muhtadi

Muhtadi Drumming Festival

Music In The Garden;Egalité: the String Quartet Edition

One of my favorite spots in Toronto during the summer is the Toronto Music Gardens, a short distance from the Harbourfront Centre on Queens Quay, just before Spadina.  Every summer, the garden hosts Summer Music in the Garden, a series of open air, free concerts on Thursdays and Sunday.  One of the most memorable concerts was at the end of August, when members of New York’s Gretchen’s Muse ensemble performed Egalité: the String Quartet Edition. They were joined by internationally renowned cellist Beiliang Zhu for a performance of Haydn’s String Quartet in C Major, Op. 50 No. 2, and Mozart’s String Quartet in F Major, K. 590.

Abigail Karr and Vita Wallace (violins), Beiliang Zhu (cello), Kyle Miller (viola),

Despite the constant noise from the construction along Queens Quay, I thoroughly enjoyed the concert, and the music garden itself.  It is designed in a way that interprets in nature Bach’s First Suite for Unaccompanied cello. You start of with  the curves and bends of the riverscape, and then make your way through six sections of the garden, ending at the impressive Giant Grass Steps.  These form a bow-shaped, curved amphitheater where the performances take place during the summer.  The yachts and the harbour behind the performers provides the perfect background.

What a perfect way to end a beautiful summer in Toronto 2013!

To read more about the Toronto Music Gardens, visit Landscape Voice here.

Tasty Greek Food And Breaking a World Record On The Danforth

The 20th Pilaros Taste of the Danforth took place last weekend in Toronto, an annual celebration of Greek food and culture.   The food was amazing; the taste, the smell, and all those flavors, simply irresistible.  I arrived  just after mid day and made my way slowly up the Danforth, enjoying bowls of soup, street calamari and some quail along the way. Forget the diet.

The highlight of this year’s celebration was the  Guinness World record attempt for the largest Zorba dance in history, with a target of 10 000 people dancing together for 5 minutes. We are all eagerly waiting for official confirmation that the record was broken, with 7800 dancers confirmed so far.

Part of the proceeds from the event went to fight prostate cancer and the Toronto East General Hospital.

I hope that you enjoy this short slide show from a day well spent this beautiful summer in Toronto.

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Jazz Lives In Toronto; The 2013 Beaches Jazz Festival

Jazz music is alive and well in Toronto. Although we do not have our own, distinct character such as New Orleans or Chicago, I am always amazed at the wide variety of talent  and diversity on the Toronto jazz scene.

This week saw the start of the annual Beaches Jazz Festival. I went down to Woodbine Park last weekend to catch some of the opening acts for the Festival, including  Tia Brazda and Eddie Bullen and Friends.

Toronto chanteuse Tia Brazda, with her sassy songs and unique voice, whipped up the crowd at the TD Main Stage with her popular song, Cabin Fever. She sings a variety of vintage jazz\blues as well as modern, danceable tunes.

Tia Brazda

Tia Brazda sings at the Beaches Jazz Festival Main Stage

The great Eddie Bullen gave a sterling perfomance at the Trinidad and Tobago stage. He is one of Toronto’s best jazz artists and directors, having produced over 150 Jazz albums. He has also worked with world-renowned jazz artists such as Dee Dee Bridgewater, SWV, Deborah Cox.  I was mesmerized by his hit song 416. Listen to this great tune here.  

Eddie Bullen on stage at the Beaches Jazz Festival, 2013

Eddie Bullen on stage at the Beaches Jazz Festival, 2013

To me, there is no better music than Jazz when it comes to creativity, feelings and lifting the human spirit. Someone once asked Miles Davis What is Swing and why do you like it? This is what he said;

“What’s swinging in words? If a guy makes you pat your foot and if you feel it down your back, you don’t have to ask anybody if that’s good music or not. You can always feel it.” Miles Davis

This coming weekend Toronto jazz lovers will be back at the Beaches Jazz Festival again, the Streetfest version along Queen Street. Try it.

Kate Middleton Gives Birth To Toronto Media Frenzy

As the Royal baby watch continues, I just read a story in the Metro on the subway that a hospital just outside Toronto in Oshawa, Lakeridge Health, invited Kate Middleton to give birth in Canada last week. The hospital said they have “brand new rooms ready for you, and we treat every newborn like a little prince or princess. We love babies. See you soon.” They did not get a response, and with Kate in labour now, it may be too late.

Kate Middleton Baby Watch Day O

Kate Middleton Baby Watch Day 0

They are many other interesting Royal Baby stories from Canada. Newtalk 1010 reports that the Fairmont Royal York hotel in downtown Toronto has set up a station dubbed “Countdown to the Royal Baby.” It includes a book of congratulations for you to sign and pass your good wishes. The hotel also plans to hold an Afternoon Tea once when the baby is born, with blueberry or cranberry scones and Prince William’s favourite chocolate biscuit cake.

Then there is the #royalbabywatch hashtag on Twitter. I am now completely dizzy from following all the updates, almost every second, true or false. The hashtags #KateMiddleton and #Royalbabywatch have been in the top ten trends for Toronto all day long.

Need a break? Don’t even thinking of turning on the Toronto TV stations,  City News Toronto, Global, CP24, CTV. You can run but you can’t hide from this one.

I wonder when this baby will make his\her grand entrance? Hopefully soon!

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