Monday, November 20, 2006

Reflections on Toronto

First, the setlist of the Tranzac gig:

Set I:
As of Now (David Ryshpan)
Dupla Traição (Djavan)
First Mentor (Michael Herring)
Solar (Miles Davis)
Transit Memory (David Ryshpan)

Set II:
Way to Blue (Nick Drake)
Kwela P'Kwana (Misha Mengelberg)
Settled in Shipping (David Ryshpan)

Thanks to the small few who came out, including Nate. It was a pleasure to play with Michael and Nick. The Tranzac is an intimate room, with a sectioned layout that reminds me vaguely of Café L'Utopik here. I can see why many improvising musicians gravitate towards the space.

I will say my ambivalence in the previous post has faded. Driving through the city, especially Thornhill (the suburb I grew up in), had a very foreign air about it. I mean, I haven't been away that long, yet it seems every open space that once existed now has or will have a building or many. And what the hell are they doing to the Royal Conservatory of Music, on Bloor? On the drive back from Tranzac, we passed Remenyi's piano store on the left, and the atrocity on my right appalled me. Gone is the majestic church whose doors I passed through every Saturday for four years, and transformed into some sort of modern black-and-white spiky vomit - the excremental crossing of Frank Gehry with a molecular model.

Yes, there's lots of great musicians there that I wish I got to play with and hear more often, and I truly do miss the Rex jam sessions and Jim McBirnie's Saturday living room hang. But unless I was going to return to playing rock with guys like Muzo or Derek and live in Kensington Market or on College Street, there's really not much there for me to return to. And if Toronto insists on aping NYC, with its attempt to turn the Eaton's Centre into Times Square North, I'd much rather live in NYC. All the theatre ads in the Star proclaim the departures of shows, and the runs of the newcomers aren't as long as they once were. Nate said that the one-two punch of 9/11 and SARS really hit the city hard, and the cultural environment hasn't recovered; but there seems to be a complete sea change away from live music, across the board. In New York, Detour has changed hands, and I've heard rumours of other venues there either temporarily suspending music or rumbles of worse news. Maybe one of the NYC bloggers can expand on this.

But riding the 80 up Parc (and it will damn well remain Avenue du Parc, no matter how much posturing our municipal politicos put up) with Alex and Ben today, post-rehearsal, on the way for some Indian food, I realized just how much I love this city.

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