News from the community

Some big news - both good and bad - from a couple of local jazz communities in the past couple of weeks.

The Ottawa jazz community took a major hit recently with the closing of Cafe Paradiso, the city's main jazz club. I never got to the Paradiso, but reaction from musicians near and far has been swift - lots of praise for the venue and its owner, Alex Demianenko. Peter Hum at the Ottawa Citizen has written extensively about the situation and has compiled musician reaction to the news. Peter's main article is here; scroll down to the bottom to find links to the articles featuring musician reactions.

James Hale, who writes for DownBeat, wrote his own blog post on the Paradiso's closing called "A Death in the Family", and I find the title eerily appropriate. We're lucky in Toronto to have a few venues who present jazz regularly, but it's disturbing to think about the vacuum any would leave should they close. In Peter's article, Alex is quoted as saying "Financially it was a disaster. Creatively, it of my proudest achievements." Herein lies the difficulty of running a jazz club - how to present great music and still pay the bills? (And pay musicians fairly and do all the marketing etc. etc. etc...) It's an ongoing struggle, and perhaps the main reason we haven't seen any new jazz-dedicated clubs open up recently in this city...

Meanwhile, Toronto's jazz community got some great news recently out of Montreal, of all places: two Toronto musicians were awarded major prizes at the Montreal Jazz Festival's TD Grand Jazz Award competition. Pianist Robi Botos took home the whole enchilada - the $5000 TD Grand Jazz Award - while guitarist Don Scott earned the $5000 Galaxie Rising Star Award, which recognizes the competition's best composition. (The only distressing part of this story is the lack of coverage this news received in the local media - Peter Hum in Ottawa seems to have done the best writeup I can find...) In addition to the cash component:

  • The TD Grand Jazz Award (awarded to Robi for his performance with bandmates Mike Downes on bass and Morgan Childs on drums) comes with 50 hours of studio time, a CD deal with Effendi Records, and invitations to next year's Montreal and Rimouski jazz festivals, as well as the 2012 Zacatecas International Jazz & Blues Festival in Mexico.
  • The Galaxie Rising Star Award (awarded to Don for his composition for Peripheral Vision, the group featuring Don on Guitar, Trevor Hogg on tenor sax, Michael Herring on bass and Nick Fraser on drums) means Don's tune will be played on one or more of Galaxie's jazz channels.

Congratulations to both Robi and Don for these awards. They are well deserved! Read the official press release here.


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