Last night, I was thrilled to be part of the capacity audience at Kensington Market’s Poetry Jazz Cafe (224 Augusta Ave) as Toronto-based Afro-Cuban trumpeter ALEXIS BARO and his band killed it on stage as part of this year’s TD Toronto Jazz Festival.
Performing music from his recent album, Guilty Pleasure, Alexis was joined by drummer extraordinaire Amhed Mitchel, Jeremy Ledbetter on keys and Yoser Rodrigues on bass. He also teased us with several new compositions from his upcoming Alexis Baro & Pueblo Nuevo Jazz Project that pays tribute to his Cuban musical roots – his new CD, Sugar Rush, due for release this coming September.
Alexis has performed and recorded with many celebrated artists including David Foster, Pacquito D’Riviera, Paul Shaffer, Andreas Bocelli, Omara Portunda, Joey DeFrancisco, Gino Vanelli, Wayne Newton and Tom Jones. He has been the opening act for Herbie Hancock and has led his own groups on tour across Canada, Europe and the West Indies.
His Guilty Pleasure album is a collection of laid back, soulful original compositions touching on a variety of genres including Latin, Afro-Cuban and Contemporary Jazz, and features Cuban female rapper Telmary and Dwayne Morgan. Congratulations to Alexis – Guilty Pleasure was recently named the Gold Medal Award winner at the Global Music Awards. You can purchase the album via iTune dowload or via www.alexisbaro.com
The venue, Poetry Jazz Cafe, located in the heart of Toronto’s Kensington Market, is a cosy showroom entered via an enclosed front foyer filled with comfy chairs and couches. Out back is an open-air patio with candlelit tables surrounded by shrubery that offers a discreet area for conversation or a romantic date night. Run by the charming Sean Pascalle and his welcoming staff, it’s a great new find for Toronto’s live music fans and I recommend you check it out in person. www.poetryjazzcafe.com (you can find lots of photos and news on their Facebook page, linked via the website). I sat at the bar with Alexis’ wife, Tracey (below) who kept me informed on the story of each tune and joined me in cheering along with the rest of the enthusiastic crowd as the band took their bows.The bar itself is decorated by some pretty cool posters and giant photos of legendary jazz figures such as Miles Davis (‘natch), Nina Simone, Stachmo…and over the bar, Sean has installed a giant tv screen – last night it was showing a famous Cuban animated feature to complimented the live music.I was really moved when Alexis picked up his flugelhorn and performed this gorgeous smooth jazz number….
Watch for the release of Alexis’ new album in September – I’ll post an event page on Facebook to promote the concert in Toronto. In the meantime, visit his website www.alexisbaro.com for more music and videos.