Monday, April 14, 2014

A Cappella Jam at the Wychwood Barns

CSLH graphicThanks to one of our regular front desk volunteers at Jazz Fm , Jane I found out about this wonderful fun experience which happens  bi-monthly at the Wychwood Barns. It's called Circle Collective and is led by the effervescent Nicole Andre or Niki as she is known.

Isn't that a great enticement on the left? It's very true!!

It's also described as "mostly improvised, somes freestyle, always a capella".

There were about a dozen of us - most of us first timers with a range of ages and vocal experience - some admitted shower or even "stairwell" singers. Niki is a singer/songwriter who has studied with instructors from Berklee who in turn studied under the amazing Bobby McFerrin and were part of his original "Voicestra". If you've ever been to a Bobby McFerrin concert you know what an uplifting experience that can be!

We did some warm up and after determining our range were grouped with like individuals in a cozy circle. Niki started phrases and then gave each section their own phrase until we produced an amazing whole from interesting parts. Those who felt brave (not me this time) could step into the circle and "freestyle". I am not doing a great job on explaining it suffice to stay you have to come and experience this!

Niki said she realized after studying at Berklee that there wasn't anything like this going on in Toronto -so kudos to her for initiating this project.

Check out the website for upcoming collectives:

S Lefkowitz and appreciation of Jazz FM volunteers

S Lefkowitz Toronto
Photo from BlogTo. I think the hummous I had is on the right.

 In the former location of Ezra Pound - a mighty fine coffee shop is now one of the latest trends in Toronto - Mediterranean food and in this case homemade hummous. It is being referred to as a hummuseria.

I dropped in for lunch on a nice sunny day last week and enjoyed the hummous with warm olives which come with warm pita bread and also sipped a refreshing mint tea - made with fresh mint - how very springlike.

The owner - Ezra Braves is super smart to convert his place because as much as I love cafes, we are becoming a bit oversaturated with them.

There are variations on the hummous toppings - including some for meat eaters, eggs, tahini and labneh and also green salad as well as a medjool date concoction with mint and orange rosewater syrup. You can order snack size for full meal size - that was quite satisfying for my lunch. I can't wait to go back and enjoy the outdoor patio.

This past week was volunteer week and we had a wonderful (catered) celebration of our great Jazz FM volunteers - including moi at the station and a Live to Air concert. Jaymz Bee was our host with the most and it featured performances from Big Rude Jake, the delightful Barbara Lica, Heather Bambrick, math professor by day/crooner by night fabulous Sam Broverman and to my delight Carolyn Credico - one of our "Jazzology" graduates from Mohawk. Thanks to Churchill Cellars for the lovely tipples i.e. wine - I particularly enjoyed a Spanish Rose. Volunteers are the life blood of the station as Bernie Webber and Ross Porter pointed out and we like to think we have the best volunteers out there!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Golden Age - Max Raabe and the Palast Orchester

Picture yourself in your best attire - a slinky satin gown or impeccable tuxedo, enjoying a cool glass of something illicit relaxing at a nightclub table surrounded by Art Deco fixtures. A suave, slim figure glides onstage clad in his signature white tie and tales - he turns to the orchestra in behind him, nods and an effervescent cascade of champagne vocals emerges.

This the delightful experience of listening to Max Raabe, the German baritone who has immersed himself in the glamourous period of the Weimar era of 1920s era Berlin. According to the press release he first fell in to love with the period in his teens and sought out all the old 78s he could get his hands on. He intitially went to Berlin to study opera but his evening activities of singing these classics in nightclubs sent him on a different path - lucky for us. For over a decade he and the Orchester have been entertaining audiences at sell out concerts worldwide.

This morning while baking cookies - cinnamon if you must know - I was transported back to that glittering time between the wars via the new recording "Golden Age" a mixture of recorded and live performances. Of course there are the classics - Berlin's "Cheek to Cheek" and Cole Porter's "Just One of Those Things", a yearning "These Foolish Things" but for me some of the lesser known material was just as compelling. The teasing "Though You're Not the First One" by Walter Jurmann, the slightly cheeky "Love Thy Neighbour", the lovely "Youkali" by the great Kurt Weill to name but three. Since these songs were the popular tunes of the day, in the mix are two pop tunes of our day given the Max Raabe treatment " Oops...I did it Again" and "Sex Bomb"!  

I think this would be marvelous to play at a dinner party perhaps while enjoying a cocktail or two or escape to that heady time in transit to wherever you're buys life leads.  The group is embarking on a 6 city U.S. tour - one of the stops at Carnegie Hall. How I would like to see them in Toronto!

For more info - www.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Majesteas and Bella Bio


True to my British roots - I do love a good cuppa...I discovered this Leslieville tea shop at the Tea Show at the Reference Library a little while ago. The staff were lovely and welcoming and I ended up sampling teas and purchasing an Edinburgh Breakfast , because really I love anything associated with Edinburgh.

I braved the Polar Vortex last Friday and decided to check out their shop on Queen near Carlaw. It's a wonderfully cozy spot and there is lots of opportunity to sniff out your favourite teas without asking someone to haul down a large tin from the top shelf. Although they are very welcoming and helpful if you have questions.  I fell in love with French Blend a mixture of teas with jasmine, lavender and a hint of vanilla      - since I am a sucker for teas with rose in them and also an Earl Grey Rooibos because I fall in the camp of Earl Grey lovers - Bergamot can be very polarizing!


I settled in at the front window table and basked in the welcome warmth of sun - the tastefully upholstered chairs are comfy and the staff person or perhaps proprietor assured me that it is now unknown for people to catch 40 winks in that spot. I enjoyed a delicious Matcha Latte with soy and noticed a letter from Buckingham Palace thanking the shop for the Royal Wedding Tea - apparently the owners have a friend in high places which allowed the gift to reach Will and Kate!


They also have treats and a beautiful selection of teapots, cups and accessories. So get some comforting tea and settle in to watch "Coronation Street".

On Sunday we went on an excursion to Toronto's only vegan Italian Restaurant "Bella Bio" - we had heard good things about this space on Mt Pleasant Road so were eager to check it out. The owners were very warm and gracious as I would expect of Italians - I do love all things Italian and the restaurant also has a number of things to purchase including organic pasta from Italy - so you know it's good - homemade sauces,  soups, giardiniera (that's picked vegetables to us mangiacakes) tiramisu and a wide selection of organic and vegan imported Italian products such as an artichoke spread and a variety of seitan - from cutlets to roasts and something called "Muscolo di Grano" yet another type of vegan protein.

We had a tasty and simple kale salad, penne with peas and seitan and a Margherita pizza. I indulged in a perfect cappuccino with soy. Some pasta, giardiniera and artichoke spread came home with us. The business has been in operation 7 months - it would be lovely do have some takeout when the weather finally warms up and take it across the street to the park.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

My Contribution

The Music Industry’s Most-Loved Albums Of All Time Part 20 | That Eric Alper:

'via Blog this'

I wrote about this a while back as Eric was looking for contributions. Nice!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Endangered Species Creme Filled Chocolate Bars


Win a gift box of delicious chocolates from Endangered Species Chocolate

All you have to do is type in the first name of the person you love in the comments section below and then "share" it for all the world to see.

One winner will be chosen by random drawing at midnight on Valentine's DayBet I had you at "chocolate" right? I was privileged to receive a sample box of these new treats. Already a big fan of their regular chocolate I couldn't wait to try a new dimension in confections.

Almond Butter Créme Filled Dark Chocolate

I particularly enjoyed the Almond Creme one and am now enjoying the Sea Salt and Lime - salty and tart! The Lavender Mint is delightful and of course Coconut is luscious. Raspberry and Orange - a perfect combination. 6 flavours in all. I have yet to sample the Blueberry..oh the sacrifices I make for you! The cocoa content is a healthy 72%.

Now in case you didn't know - this company donates 10% of proceeds to help non profit groups worldwide - yup - save Endangered Species. Not only that people these bars are VEGAN! They are also : gluten free, non GMO, ethically traded, rainforest certified and use sustainable palm oil. You can also learn about the animals featured on the packages on the inside while you're enjoying the goodies. For example the Red Panda is one the Raspberry Orange and a Lemur on the Coconut.  My husband Fraser has kindly volunteered to review the bars..ha ha.

Remember people chocolate is good for you and good for your soul.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Valentine's Event - Jazz and Indian Food!

I'm just going to use this press release from Keita Hopkinson - letting those of you who have procrastinated about Valentine's Day or haven't been able to get a reservation...and hey it's not restricted to couples - you can definitely fly solo.

Briefly, it takes place at Trinity St. Paul's on Bloor and features such musicians as William Sperandei, Marc Rogers and Lee Wallace

In case you have a short attention span..visit