Archive for the ‘STREET LEVEL’ Category

A Jurassic Moment

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The Blue-Eyed Lass, Scottish Trad

Well, last week was March Break here in Ontario, and it seemed like half the city cleared out, sensibly heading someplace warm or maybe hitting the slopes north of the city. Me? Between meeting with students and a few gigs around town, I had just enough going on that I stick around and revel in how much less traffic there was in getting around town. I ended up having some fine adventures in-town, including this Jurassic moment out in The Junction!

I had been tipped off the day before that a couple of the buildings out in The Junction were coming down, including the old, abandoned GE factory and NRI (National Rubber Institute?) where I had tagged along with members of TLR camera club. I had joined them and played flute in the cold while they wandered around taking photos and documenting massive interior spaces.

Dinosaurs of the manufacturing era, I’m glad that these buildings have been documented in sight and sound as they meet their demise: these warehouses each have their own characteristics, personality…and lifespan, it would seem. NRI is like an contemporary version of the slow-moving herbivore like the Brontosaurus, especially when compared to the stealth and deadly accuracy of the T-Rex pictured above. This Trawna-saurus Rex is kinda cute, though, don’t you think?

This image reminds me of that scene in Jurassic Park, you know, where the dinosaur peers eerily into the car of our hapless heroes. The sounds that this dino made were absolutely awe-inspiring, and if you listen carefully, there is one particular moment towards the end where a wall comes down, the cascade of bricks completely engulfing this old Scottish Air.

Where one might imagine the sound of a building being being torn down as ugly or just plain noisy, this recording reveals that the sounds of demolition can be endlessly nuanced and even beautiful in their own way. The flute offers contrast, and adds to the poignancy of the moment where our urban landscape changes dramatically. For the better? For the worse? Depends on who you talk to, of course.

Recorded on a second floor area of NRI as the adjacent section was being torn down, I returned a few days later at dusk, just to check in on my old friend. As I tried to get my bearings in the fading light and clambered over large mounds of bricks and metal, I suddenly realized that the space where this recording was made – that whole section of the building – had vanished.

Where I had stood and played my flute no longer existed.

So, how was your March Break?

Kensington’s Source for Jazz and Funk

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SoulJazz Orchestra 1

SoulJazz Orchestra 2

I came for the Pink Lady apples, and stayed for the funk! Like an acoustic beacon, it was the distinctive, eclectic music emanating from this shop that first drew me in. ‘The Source for Jazz and Funk’ is how the media has described 4 Life Organic Foods in Kensington Market.

Pots, one of the owners and pictured above, tells the most incredible tales of the power of music. His epic yet incredibly personal stories are a testament to the life-affirming properties of music that cross cultures and musical genres…the story of a woman who stood, sobbing and immovable in his shop, for example. (more…)

Honky Tonk Dog

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Honky Tonk Dawg!

Had to pull the car over on an impulse for this one! A few days earlier I had heard someone playing piano on the display instrument just outside Paddon Pianos, but sadly did not have minute to spare. It’s a busy strip, and as I wandered back through traffic, the recorder rolling, a dog leashed outside Food Depot near the corner of ‘Dup n Dav’ started warming up. As you will hear, both piano player and canine show off their extraordinary Honky Tonk stylings! This is a wonderful example of music integrated beautifully and spontaneously in an everyday setting.

There is more than just one Food Depot, this one in New Mexico where the National Flute Association convenes for this years Flute Convention.

College Street Busking

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Chinese, Traditional

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One cold, bright morning back in January, I heard some amazing music through the din of the College street traffic…

Jimmy plays a traditional and ancient, bowed, two-stringed Jinghu and really managed to get around the fretless fingerboard very well despite the chilly weather!

Learn more about World Music at the Royal Conservatory of Music: (more…)

Russell Hill Road Elegy

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A couple of months ago and not far from this house, I discovered wonderful acoustics in one of Toronto‘s historic Water Filtration Buildings. There does seem to be increasing awareness about preservation, so to come across this wonderful old home right in the same neighbourhood – in the midst of being torn down – came as a shock.

If given the opportunity, I have no idea what I would have played as an ode to an historic house like this, ripped from the fabric of our downtown core. Perhaps Massenet’s Elegy: (more…)

Persian Pipes

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Busking culture in Toronto seems even more diverse and accomplished these days, and Yonge and Bloor can be a hotspot.

As you will hear, this piper, Curly, is a fine player, with a handsome, mellow-sounding set of antique, hand-carved pipes from Persia. (more…)