Tag Archives: Kensington Market

20160702_231100

AFRO-CUBAN TRUMPETER ALEXIS BARO PACKED THE HOUSE @ POETRY JAZZ CAFE

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 MitchelJeremy 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). 20160702_221644I 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.20160702_230841The 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.20160702_225041I 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.20160702_220944 20160702_21592120160702_221626

 

 

 

 

 

20151025_143831

KENSINGTON MARKET (TORONTO) – LAST “PEDESTRIAN SUNDAY” OF THE YEAR

Today, the sun was out and so was half of Toronto (it seemed) on the streets of Kensington Market to celebrate the last “pedestrian Sunday” and to support the art fair featuring local artists and craftspeople.20151025_132739My bestie, Erena, and I wandered down Augusta Ave where we saw lots of vendors and all the regular stores were decked out in their finest Halloween decorations. Best place to find groovy costumes for trick-or-treating!20151025_134254 20151025_142559 20151025_142811 20151025_143737Back in the late 70’s/early 80’s, I was one of the thousands of starving artists, actors or musicians who shopped, dined and partied in Kensington Mkt. This was the first period of vintage clothing crazes Toronto went thru and Kensington was the coolest neighbourhood where all the second hand and vintage togs were affordable….Courage My Love, Exile, Black Market….all my old haunts for buying clothing, shoes, jewellery. Nice to visit and see some of my old fave places still there and thriving. Nice to see the old House of Spice still there although it seems they’re more into incense than actual spices. Used to buy my curry powder there.20151025_143629 20151025_143818 20151025_135110But today was all about the artisans and street performers. We met the delightfully bright and cheery Whitney French (poetrybusker.tumblr.com) who was typing instant custom poetry and prose on her portable typewriter. 20151025_133803 20151025_133800

20151025_133810Before heading over to the art fair, Erena and I just HAD to go grab some Turkish Delight…the best in the city…from a little spice and nut store on Bladwin St. They have THE best rose-flavoured fresh TD (see below)20151025_134633 20151025_134648…and as we walked away I noticed their next door neighbours. Their signage made me laugh – “hustlin’ since 1965″!20151025_134904Round the corner at the art fair, I met the lady at the BB Tresors handmade jewellery booth. I really liked the bracelets which reminded me of the California-based Satya line…but hers were half Satya’s price. Wow.  Check out the Etsy shop here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/bbtresors20151025_140715

20151025_140851 20151025_140725Along the next aisle was a real cute art/ceramics booth (below)20151025_141151…then I met Marcella Valentino of inch x inch. What super cool handcrafted jewellery designs (below). Loved the big pendants made from metal washers or oversized crystals.  www.inchxinchxmv.etsy.com20151025_141411 20151025_141453 20151025_141456One of the artists I had already scoped out online was Ralph Alfonso of BBAM! Gallery in Montreal, a rock’n’roll photographer whose pictures showcase the great bands of the 70s and 80’s and who was himself a music manager (The Diodes). http://www.bbamgallery.com/ Here’s Ralph (below left) surveying the scene.20151025_141912 20151025_141922

20151025_141940Here’s a cool way to light your home. Veggie lamps. Yes, artist Masa Lizdek creates plaster molds of vegetables & fruit, then handcrafts them into stunning porcelain lamps (below) under the designer name Ripe – check ’em out at www.masalizdek.com/artdownload IMG_7165 IMG_7177Erena and I were hungry and thirsty so we went looking for some nibblies…we shoulda grabbed some Rasta Pasta but the line up was too long!20151025_142622And of course, I wanted to ride the pony (below) but couldn’t find an actual pony anywhere!20151025_143018No idea what this was supposed to be (below), but that’s half the fun of Kensington Market – finding all the wacky characters and street art. I thought Lady Gaga had arrived with a giant eyeball or albino boob. I dunno – what do you see?20151025_144827So much to see, hear, smell, taste, touch….I needed a whole month of Sundays but will certainly make another visit soon during the week. Here are a few more photos and a couple of videos I shot – enjoy!20151025_135253 20151025_143625 20151025_134050