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First - kudos to Daniel Jamieson and his Danjam Orchestra. I caught their opening set last night at The Rex and the band sounded great. Some top musicians from Toronto and New York, and excellent writing. If you missed them last night, you can catch them again tonight at The Rex starting at 9:30 pm - details here.
And now on to the topic of the day. A few weeks back I wrote about the demise of Cafe Paradiso in Ottawa. With this week came news of a club closing here in Toronto - The Trane Studio.
The Trane was not a perfect establishment. I heard from and about a number of musicians who had poor experiences there one way or the other. That said, I've also heard from and about many musicians for whom The Trane played an important and regular part in their performance schedule. The Trane made a strong contribution to the musical fabric of the city (and to a variety of other art forms) over its nine years, and the closing of any jazz club is felt as a loss within the community.
When I first heard the news, I was worried that an internet "pile on" might happen. It's easy to express opinions online, and for whatever reason it seems especially easy to express nasty opinions online. There were a few unpleasant posts here and there (countered by many positive posts), but then something kind of cool happened. Local guitarist Nathan Hiltz, lamenting the loss of one club, suggested the community band together and start another. And suddenly the mood changed from bleak to optimistic. Check out this Facebook post (or see Nathan's Facebook page):
Within a few short hours of his original post, Nathan had a raft of local musicians raring to go. He already has plans to create a website which would invite suggestions and feedback on the idea.
Could this co-op model really work? There is precedent - the Jazz Room in Waterloo; the Yardbird Suite in Edmonton; the Bassment in Saskatoon. I've thrown my hat into the ring, adding my name to those willing to help. If enough people get on board, and the momentum is carried forward, we may just end up with a new - and different - jazz club in Toronto.
If you're interested in helping out or staying informed on developments, drop Nathan a line via his Facebook page. And in the meantime, be sure to get out and support live jazz in the various venues that we already have around the city.