Thursday, July 21, 2011

So Hot for Jazz

After work tonight I rode my bike like the hot wet wind in a mad rush toward the water.  I stumbled blindly, sweat dripping into my eyes, onto the beach, and (having wisely taken my bathing suit to work) threw my clothes on the ground and walked straight into the barely-above-freezing water.  I hardly winced as the frigid water climbed higher, and only gasped a little bit as I plunged in and took a few strokes out into the lake.  A couple of minutes was all I could bear.  The water was like ice.  I stood up to my shoulders with my hands out of the water because they were too cold.  But I tell you, when I walked out and could feel the cold waving off my body like layers and slowly started to warm up again, it was the best I've felt outside all week.

As my brain finally switched from a totally internal heat-focus - chanting I'M SO HOT I'M SO HOT I'M SO HOT HOLY SMOKES I'M SO HOT while biking - I became gradually aware that a) there were people on the beach in their underwear because they clearly weren't thinking like I was this morning, b) lace brazilian panties make a poor bathing suit bottom, and c) I could hear music coming from somewhere.

That's when I realised:  it's the Beaches Jazz Fest!

Up on Queen street it was a total party!  The street was closed all along the beaches - from Woodbine all the way to at least Silver Birch Ave, and maybe a couple of blocks further.  I decided to mill around in the crowd for a bit to see what I could see, and the music was fantastic.

Latin Beats on your Doorstep
These dudes were the first that I saw, and sang in Spanish.  The songs were really Latin - the first was a salsa and was really out of control.  For being the hottest day of the last decade in Toronto, they were really tearing it up and looked cool while doing it.

The second group was playing your standard blues-rock with harmonica.  They were good at it, mind you.  The bass player could have been a Paul McCartney look-alike too (extra novelty).

Ninja Funk Orchestra
The third group I saw was really awesome.  I didn't catch the names of the first two, but these guys were called the Ninja Funk Orchestra.  I think that they're generally in the business of playing funk-influenced new wave jazz, though the songs I heard them play tonight were more like drum and bass with saxophone.  They were very good, I actually liked the drum and bass stuff they played tonight a little better than the more jazzy things on their myspace page, which is here, though Hierophant sounds a little more like what I heard.

And finally, my last stop before the Pie Shack, was this amazing group of teenagers playing 1920's big band jazz.  AMAZING.  There were a variety of singers, who did solo and group songs, and lots of different musicians had solos and things, and in general it was all very tight and very awesome.  I didn't get the name of this group either, though I think it wouldn't be surprising to find that their either a club or a school music class or something.  They were so well rehearsed and totally on the beat.  They played Glen Miller songs so well I think some of them will totally end up playing in the Orchestra some day.

I'm so happy that I stumbled upon the fest on my way home.  There were many more bands to see, but I couldn't take too much more of the heat and really wanted to eat.  It's on until the 24th of July and everything is free, plus the water is RIGHT THERE to dip your toes in.  I highly recommend checking it out!

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