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The Fake Book - the (jazz) musician's best friend

August 24, 2015 | Bill V. | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

When I asked about fake books one of my musically knowledgeable co-workers said "a lot of people only read chords". 

For the rest of us though a fake book is a type of musical score/sheet music collection:

Each song in a fake book contains the melody line, basic chords and sometimes lyrics - the minimal information needed by a musician to make an impromptu arrangement of a song, or "fake it." The fake book is a central part of the culture of playing music in public, especially in jazz, where improvisation is particularly valued.

I had an "aha" moment at the phrase "public playing". I was reminded of piano bars with huge brandy snifters full of dollar bills (I'm old) sitting atop the piano where a suave, well dressed man - or woman- played requests for tips. Occasionally, through the smoke and dim lights, you would see a song request stump the musician and out would come a loose bound collection of lead sheets songs - their personal fake book.

Nowadays, I sometimes get people who look a bit down-at-the-heels asking for fake books. Out of curiosity, I asked one man what he used the fake book for and he explained he was a street musician expanding his repertoire.

If you're interested in fake books you may enjoy some of the following ones available at Toronto Public Library. The biggest collection of sheet music (over 30,000 scores!) is found in the Arts Department of the Toronto Reference Library. We have scores to borrow or for use only in the Library (we have copiers).


The New real book Jazz classics, choice standards, pop-fusion classics
The new standard in jazz fake books since 1988. Endorsed by McCoy Tyner, Ron Carter, Dave Liebman, and many more. Evenly divided between standards, jazz classics and pop-fusion hits, this is the all-purpose book for jazz gigs, weddings, jam sessions, etc. Like all Sher Music fake books, it features composer-approved transcriptions, easy-to-read calligraphy, and many extras (sample bass lines, chord voicings, drum appendix, etc.) not found in conventional fake books.

This is the ultimate fake book  melody, lyrics, chords for all 'C' instruments.   The Best fake book ever  over 1000 songs

Charles Mingus, more than a fake book   Thelonious Monk fake book C Editiond


How to play from a fake book  faking your own arrangements from melodies and chords


  Classic rock fake book  over 250 great songs of the rock era   The ultimate rock pop fake book  melody, lyrics, chords for all C instruments

The real book 6th edition
(Fake Book). The Real Books are the best-selling jazz books of all time. Since the 1970s, musicians have trusted these volumes to get them through every gig, night after night. The problem is that the books were illegally produced and distributed, without any regard to copyright law, or royalties paid to the composers who created these musical masterpieces. Hal Leonard is very proud to present the first legitimate and legal editions of these books ever produced. You won't even notice the difference, other than that all of the notorious errors have been fixed: the covers and typeface look the same, the song list is nearly identical, and the price for our edition is even cheaper than the original! Every conscientious musician will appreciate that these books are now produced accurately and ethically, benefitting the songwriters that we owe for some of the greatest tunes of all time! Includes 400 songs.

  Absolutely Complete Klezmer Songbook (fake book)     Love and wedding fake book over 285 songs for piano, vocal, guitar, electronic keyboard and all C instruments


There are also come online resources you may find useful:


Listen Up: Jeanne Lamon's Music Picks

August 6, 2015 | D!ana | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

In our second Listen Up post, we've caught up with Jeanne Lamon, talented violinist, formerly the Music Director of Tafelmusik and currently the Chief Artistic Advisor of Tafelmusik.

Jeanne Lamon

Listen Up is a new series of blog posts that highlight some favourite albums of a variety of Torontonians! Last week, we featured platinum selling recording artist and Canada's Queen of R&B Soul, Jully Black.

With over 33 years of performing with and directing Tafelmusik, Jeanne Lamon has also guest directed symphony orchestras all over Canada and internationally. She is also praised by critics for her strong musical leadership and has won numerous awards, including being recently appointed to The Order of Ontario in 2014. 


Here's what her favourite albums are:

1. Chopin Nocturnes 4 Ballades (2 CD set), Vladimir Ashkenazy (1997)



Jeanne says: "This is the most romantic music ever, and the most comforting. The performance is pure perfection, the bending of time masterful. My favourite."




2. Los Pájaros Perdidos The South American Project, L'Arpeggiata & Christina Pluhar (2012)

La Pajaros Perdidos
Jeanne says: "I love this CD because it's so expressive. It's kind of a crossover between "World" music and "Classical", my two favourites. South American traditional songs sung and arranged by wonderful classically trained singers and instrumentalists. Great percussion!"



3. Bach Brandenburg Concertos (2 CD set), Tafelmusik (2012)
Brandenburg Tafelmusik


Jeanne says: "These are a must for anyone's CD collection. Such vitality and variety and positivity in these pieces, written by the best composer who ever lived."



Thank you Jeanne!


You can borrow Jeanne's favourite albums or the CDs Jeanne has worked on from the Toronto Public Library. The Toronto Public Library also has a wide selection of Tafelmusik CDs available. 

CDs aren't your thing? Try our FREE online music services! Here are two services that carry Tafelmusik and Jeanne Lamon's musical work (have your library card ready to login):

Naxos                 Hoopla

The two services look pretty different. Here's what Naxos looks like (you can use the filters on the left side of the results to filter her work):

Naxos Jeanne Lamon


And here's a screenshot of what Hoopla looks like:

Hoopla Jeanne Lamon

Check them both out to see what they have to offer!  They are both very easy to navigate but if you would like some help, you can always call Answerline at 416-393-7131 for some step-by-step assistance. There is also a help guide available for Hoopla available.  


Photo of Jeanne Lamon from

Please note that Naxos and Hoopla update their sites often and the screenshots above were taken at the time this blog was created.  

Canadian Theatre Production Index, Arts Department, Toronto Reference Library

July 30, 2015 | Wendy | Comments (3) Facebook Twitter More...


  Arts Department

One of the best-kept secrets in the Arts Department at the Toronto Reference Library is the Production Index, humbly stored in filing cabinets in the staff area adjacent to the Information Desk. 

     Filing cabinets  Filing cabinets

Humble may be its appearance, but the information it contains is not.  This index is nothing less than a window on the production histories of professional theatre in Canada!  Whether a Canadian play, or one by a foreign playwright, if it has been performed on a Canadian stage, the Production Index records its premiere run as well as its revivals.  While not a complete record of all Canadian productions, it is amazingly extensive and a quick way to find information. 

By the way, the Production Index is recorded on old-school index cards, and most are annotated with extra goodies like whether the Library also has an original program, production photos or theatre reviews.

Here is a typical card for Michel Tremblay's Les Belles-Soeurs:

Michel Tremblay index card

The staff in the Arts department can help you to decipher this information, and will retrieve (for example) original programs from storage if needed.

Programs2  Programs

 They will show you where the Vertical Files are if there are reviews,

Reviews  Vertical files reviews

or point you to the Special Collections department for the ‘really old stuff’ and most ephemeral material such as posters, playbills and archival material .

Special collections

So come on up to the Arts Department of the Toronto Reference Library and discover Canadian theatre!





Art by the Yard: Textile Exhibitions In Toronto

July 30, 2015 | Muriel | Comments (6) Facebook Twitter More...

I was weaving my way around Toronto recently, enjoying three spectacular textile exhibitions. The first stop in my travels was at the Textile Museum of Canada, to see Artist Textiles: Picasso to Warhol. It is a fascinating overview of 20th century art history through textile design. Organized and circulated by the Fashion and Textile Museum from London, England, it shows how, in the 20th century, artists' fashion and furnishing textiles brought their work to broader audiences.

Although painters usually paint on canvas, which is a textile after all, it still seems innovative to see painters applying their art to manufactured textiles. This is no doubt because "...the artists...created unique designs especially for use on fabrics...They're not designs that existed already and were then transposed and adapted."  At the exhibition, I really admired Sonia Delaunay's silk fashion textile, Raoul Dufy's 'Les Violins' cotton furnishing textile, and Henri Matisse's 'Echarpe No. 1' silk headscarf.

Color Moves Art & Fashion by Sonia Delaunay        Raoul Dufy        Henri Matisse

Known primarily for his sculptures, I was surprised and intrigued to see a 'Standing Figures' rayon headscarf from 1947 by English sculptor Henry Moore. In Britain, in the late 1940s after WWII, the textile trade was an important part of the economic recovery export drive. Artists such as Henry Moore were involved in this initiative.

Henry Moore Textiles          Artists Textiles

Meanwhile, in the 1940s in the United States, I was interested to learn that there was an enthusiasm for modernity, and Surrealism was popular in fashion and home furnishings. Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí's 'Classical Armour' silk headscarf on display with its bright red torsos in an other-worldly landscape, is emblematic of his style.

Salvador Dali An Illustrated Life    Salvador Dali 1904 - 1989     Dali Master of

Another Surrealist, Joan Miró, designed a textile, 'Farmer's Dinner," depicting cockerels on a light green background, which here has been made into a dress.  Marc Chagall's romantic style is stunning on his 'Belles Fleurs' cotton and rayon furnishing textile - the flowers look fresh-picked!  My favourite textile in the exhibition, however, is Andy Warhol's 'Buttons' cotton fashion textile, a cheery repeat pattern of colourful buttons.  Andy Warhol's skill with textiles came about because he "started out as an illustrator.  He was a commercial artist...He understood scale; he understood colourways."

As comfortable as Andy Warhol was with "producing commodity, basically," Pablo Picasso had an "uneasiness with sacrificing creative control over his product.  The artist famously stipulated that his textile designs could be used for any purpose - except something that could be sat on."  I did notice in the exhibition that Picasso's 'Fish' print cotton textile is made up into a dress, and his 'Musical Faun' cotton corduroy velvet into an extraordinary 1960s garment, hostess cocktail culottes. So, while both garments made of Picasso textiles could not be sat on, they could be sat in!

Miro    Chagall Modern Master     Andy Warhol

Picasso Challenging the Past    Picasso Peace and Freedom    Picasso and Truth from Cubism to Guernica

While I was at the Textile Museum of Canada, I also went to see Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray.  The 50 photographic portraits on display in the exhibition were taken between 1937 and 1946 by Frida Kahlo's friend and lover, the Hungarian-born Nickolas Muray. These photographs of Frida Kahlo are extraordinary, with her direct gaze softened somewhat by being captured by her intimate photographer friend. Wearing the traditional Mexican dress which expressed her fierce pride in her Mexican identity, Frida Kahlo not only was an iconic figure of the 20th century, and one of the most
influential artists of modern culture, "She, herself, absolutely, was possibly her greatest work of art."

Along with the photographs can be seen examples of traditional Mexican blouses, earrings and necklaces of the type Frida Kahlo would have worn. Also on display is the huipil, a traditional Mexican loose-fitting tunic, a garment favoured by Frida Kahlo.  Frida Kahlo's costume was such a part of her aura, " could hear her before she entered a room from the sound of all of her big clanking jewelry and the rush of her skirts."  Within these loose-fitting clothes, Frida Kahlo also covered her physical infirmity, the result of polio as a child and then a horrific bus accident when she was a teenager.  When she died in 1954, Frida's husband Diego Rivera locked away her wardrobe until it was unsealed in 2004.

  I Will Never Forget You Frida Kahlo to Nickolas Muray   Frida Kahlo Painting Her Own Reality   Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress Frida Kahlo's Wardrobe

The third exhibition I went to see was ¡VivaMéxico! up on the fourthlevel at the Royal Ontario Museum.  There are 140 pieces on display, including complete costume ensembles, textiles, embroidery and beadwork.  Textiles in Mexico have an impressive 4000 year-old history, from the Maya, to the Zapotec and Aztec cultures, to the Spanish conquest in 1521.  There are some magnificent handwoven sarapes, or men's overgarments, on display.  The sarape represented wealth and male prestige in 19th-century Mexico, and today the sarape is an emblem of masculinity.  Worn like a cloak or a Peruvian poncho,
it is also seen as a symbol of "mexicanidad" or Mexican identity, in much the same way that the huipil, or tunic was, when worn by Frida Kahlo.  The textile for the huipil is traditionally woven on a backstrap loom.  Incredibly, the backstrap loom has been used for 3000 years, with one end of the loom tied around a fixed object, such as a tree, and the other end around the back of the weaver.

Wearing Culture Dress and Regalia in Early Mesoamerica and Central America      Weaving the Past      A Perfect Red

The cochineal insect is used to produce red dye for colouring fabrics, and was once one of the world's most precious commodities.  I was fascinated by a video at the exhibition about how this treasured dye is extracted.

With the Spanish conquest of Mexico, the Roman Catholic church fostered the teaching in convents of Spanish needlework techniques.  There are stunning examples of Huichol clothing on display, cross-stitched by hand, as well as embroidered samplers. My favourite piece of clothing in this entire exhibition is an exquisite blouse with silk satin-stitch embroidery of flowers and birds, by award-winning embroiderer Faustina Sumano García.

I enjoyed visiting all three exhibitions, and appreciated the different societies and historic periods they represent, but really the common thread running through all of them is a visual feast of beautiful textiles!

This summer, for free, you can go on your own or take a friend or your family, to the Textile Museum of Canada and the Royal Ontario Museum with a Sun Life Financial Museum + Arts Pass, available at Toronto Public Library

Listen Up: Jully Black's Music Picks

July 23, 2015 | D!ana | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

I'm sure you've got your selection of albums you can't live without, but have you ever wondered what some other Torontonians' top picks are?  

We asked some Toronto residents (some of who you might be familiar with), to be part of a new series of blog posts to share with us their all-time favourite albums! 

Jully Black

Our first featured Torontonian is Jully Black, Canada's Queen of R&B Soul and a Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Para Pan Am Games Ambassador! 

Jully Black is a platinum selling recording artist, who has won several Juno Awards and was even selected to sing for the Queen of England! As a songwriter, Jully has worked with industry heavyweights like Sean Paul, Destiny's Child and even shared the stage with Elton John, Etta James and Celine Dion. Jully has also been nominated for multiple Gemini's and is a major presence in the Canadian media and entertainment industry.   


Here's what her favourite albums are:

1. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Lauryn Hill (1998)

  The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill CD


Jully says: "This album is classic, timeless, emotional and groovy. My favourite RnB album of all time."




2. The Love Album, Kim Burrell (2011)

The Love Album CD


Jully says: "A Gospel album that doesn't force religion down your throat. She sings about God like he's her husband. True Love."




3. Love Me Back, Jazmine Sullivan (2010)

Love Me Back CD



July says: "It's rare to hear a female RnB singer sing about subjects like this. Jazmine is real, raw and soulful."




4. Emotional, Carl Thomas (2000)

Emotional CD



Jully says: "This album dates back to 1994 and still sounds good when played back to back with today's music."




5. Brown Sugar, D'Angelo (2000)

Brown Sugar CD



Jully says: "A timeless masterpiece."





Thank you Jully!


If you're interested in Jully's favourites or Jully Black's albums, you can borrow them from the Toronto Public Library!  If they aren't available at your local branch, you can always place them on hold. And did you know that you can now place up to 100 holds? Yes! You can click on any of the CD covers or album titles above and place your holds today!  


Check back soon to see who is featured in the next Listen Up blog!


Here are some other Arts & Culture music blogs you may be interested in: 


*Photo of Jully Black from 

"Illumination" Comes to the Library: Portraits of Canadian Authors by Mark Raynes Roberts

July 17, 2015 | Bill V. | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

Toronto Public Library will showcase ILLUMINATION: Portraits of Canadian Authors, a digital art installation of 150 portraits of diverse authors by crystal artist and photographer Mark Raynes Roberts

Running from October 11 to November 1, 2015 the portraits will be digitally projected in the Toronto Reference Library entrance cube and atrium, on LCD screens in 13 branches and featured in the Appel Salon at selected fall events. 

Author Margaret Atwood photographic portrait by Mark Raynes Roberts part of the ILLUMINATIONS: Portraits of Canadian Authors. Copyright Mark Raynes Roberts.

ILLUMINATION: Portraits of Canadian Authors reveals the portraits and personalities of such noted authors as Margaret Atwood, Joseph Boyden, Emma Donoghue, Charlotte Gray, Elizabeth Hay, Sheila Heti, Plum Johnson, Margaret MacMillan, MG Vassanji, Anne Michaels, Rohinton Mistry, Michael Ondaatje, Miriam Toews and Jane Urquhart. 

“As we welcome a line-up of international luminaries to the Appel Salon stage this fall, it befits our cultural mandate to showcase the world class array of contemporary authors that Canada is home to, so beautifully portrayed in this collection,” said Yvonne Hunter, manager of cultural and special events programming for Toronto Public Library.

Author Rohinton Mistry portrait photograph by Mark Raynes Roberts and part of ILLUMINATIONS: Portraits of Canadian Authors. Copyright Mark Raynes Roberts.

His works will also be shown at:

  ILLUMINATION by Mark Raynes Roberts at the Gardiner Museum.

"They depict "dreamscapes" of Canadian literary stories, expressing the beauty of the written word and exploring the human condition, hopes, wisdom, love and transcendence born from Canada’s most inquiring minds. The literary passages that served as inspiration were chosen by the Writers' Trust Advisory Board." These 12 new engraved crystal pieces will communicate narrative passages based upon the theme of light and taken from literary works by Canadian authors.

His one-of-a-kind crystal art pieces (an earlier work, from a different series is shown below) feature hand engraving and use of a rare combination of both delicate stippling – a time-consuming technique from the 17th century – and deep intaglio diamond wheel-engraving.

Eternity, crystal sculpture detail by Mark Raynes Roberts part of the 9-piece Human Spirit Collection, 1996. Copyright Mark Raynes Roberts.

The multi-media project was two years in the making. Raynes Roberts travelled over 20,000 km and took over 22,500 photographs. ILLUMINATION: Portraits of Canadian Authors celebrates both emerging and established authors from all genres of writing, ethnic background and gender. Raynes Roberts often travelled to the authors’ homes to photograph them in their places of work and inspiration.

“Literature is an art of illumination. Every author wants to shed light on some truth no matter what form the writing takes: fiction or non-fiction. Writing is a pursuit of knowledge and understanding; the desire to bring attention to a story that needs to be told, whether it be about a person, an imagined life, an issue, a part of our history or the human condition. This is why literature is important. We’re not only enriched by it; we’re connected by it,” commented Raynes Roberts.





Beach Reads: Music Book Edition

June 30, 2015 | Beau | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Summer's finally here, and summer always means beach reading season! It's always a busy time for music fans, but here's a list of some recent (and recent-ish) books you'll want to check out between concerts and outdoor festivals.


Kim Gordon Girl In A Band                Viv Albertine Clothes Music Boys

We'll kick things off with a couple of memoirs by women who rock. Girl In A Band, by Kim Gordon, is the Sonic Youth's bassist's candid recounting of her life (and failed marriage to bandmate Thurston Moore), from her suburban California childhood to the New York City art and music scene of the 1980s (with a brief detour to Toronto's York University!) to her experiences as the founding member of a seminal band that would help pave the way for the alternative music explosion of the 1990s.

As a founding member of The Slits, Viv Albertine was at ground zero for the early days of the English punk rock scene. Her rollicking memoir Clothes, clothes, clothes, music, music, music, boys, boys boys is a vivid chronicle of her life in music, film and fashion that connects the dots between the pioneering women of punk and the Riot Grrrls who followed in their footsteps.

Girl In A Band:

Clothes, clothes, clothes, music, music, music, boys, boys, boys:


Hip Hop Family Tree Volume One by Ed Piskor       Hip Hop Family Tree Volume Two by Ed Piskor

Self-proclaimed hip-hop nerd Ed Piskor's Hip hop family tree series started off as a webcomic, but these two gorgeous volumes collect the first several installments in print form. Volume 1 covers the 1970s until 1981, when a group of trailblazing DJs, breakdancers, graffiti artists and MCs formed hip-hop culture in the South Bronx, while Volume 2 tells the story of 1981 to 1983, as the scene moved from rec rooms to downtown clubs and record stores. These two books are an affectionate homage to both hip-hop and comic books and almost as much fun as listening to all those old-school rap hits.


I'll Take You There by Greg Kot


A musical generation before hip-hop hit the streets, many American soul, r&b and gospel musicians were important participants in the civil rights movements of the 1960s. Greg Kot's I'll take you there: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers, and the march up freedom's highway tells the story of Mavis Staples, the lead singer of family gospel stars The Staple Singers, whose music battled racism and oppression during one of the most turbulent periods in American history.


Mad World, by Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein

Readers of a certain age will fondly (or not-so-fondly) remember the outrageous haircuts, fashions and music of the '80s new wave scene. Mad world: an oral history of new wave artists and songs that defined the 1980s gives 35 of the most notable artists of the time, from huge stars to one-hit wonders, a chance to tell their stories of pop stardom and the creation of their biggest hits. If you were around at the time, the playlist suggestions will have you digging your old tapes out of the basement for a trip down musical memory lane.


How Music Got Free, by Stephen Witt                      Cowboys And Indies by Gareth Murphy

Music is an art, but it's also big business, and these two books take you behind the scenes for a look at the commercial side of the recording industry. How music got free: the end of an industry, the turn of the century, and the patient zero of piracy, by Stephen Witt, traces the history of online music from the invention of the MP3 in a German audio lab to the revolutionary shifts that occurred for both artists and record companies when it became possible for any music fan with a modem to download songs and entire albums from the internet for free.

Gareth Murphy's Cowboys and indies: the epic history of the record industry is an ambitious overview of the entire history of the recording industry, from the invention of the first sound-recording devices in the 1850s right through to the present day, with colourful profiles of the many record label founders and executives, talent scouts and producers who played an instrumental part in building the music biz into a multi-billion dollar enterprise. 

How Music Got Free:


The History Of Rock 'n' Roll In Ten Songs by Greil Marcus


The always thought-provoking cultural critic Greil Marcus is back with his latest book, which hones in on ten of rock 'n' roll's turning points, songs and artists who single-handedly changed the course of the music. The history of rock 'n' roll in ten songs weaves together the past, present and future of the music by outlining how these singular tunes helped create and preserve the unruly and liberating glory that is rock music in all its forms.


Do Not Sell At Any Price by Amanda Petrusich      Confidence Or The Appearance Of Confidence

The next time you're at a flea market or garage sale and see some old 78 rpm records sitting in a box, it might be worth your while to have a look at them. In Do not sell at any price: the wild, obsessive hunt for the world's rarest 78 rpm records, Amanda Petrusich delves into an eccentric and secretive subculture where intrepid collectors and archivists hunt down decades-old records and music that are in danger of being lost to history (and are sometimes worth thousands of dollars).

The American literary magazine The Believer has been publishing interviews with musicians since it launched in 2003, and Confidence, or the appearance of confidence: the best of the Believer music interviews compiles their wide-ranging conversations with thirty-five of the past decade's most creative and influential musicians. Where else are you going to read Jack White's instructions on how to upholster a couch, Björk's thoughts on poet e.e. cummings and Ice Cube talking about kicking George Clooney's butt at basketball under one cover?

Do not sell at any price:



June 30, 2015 | Charlene Lee | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Panamania 2015

July 10 will mark the start of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games. As thousands of athletes descend upon Toronto, so will thousands of artists. Bringing their A-game in music, dance, theatre, comedy, fashion, and the visual arts, this kaleidoscope of creativity is aptly called PANAMANIA.  

Presented by CIBC, this 35-day arts and culture festival will celebrate the Games as well as the diversity that surrounds them. With more than 130 musical performances by Grammy, Latin Grammy, and Juno-award winning artists, music lovers better start clearing their schedules from July 10 to August 15. Catch local musicians like Stars, Lights, and Jann Arden, or check out Puerto Rican duo Calle 13 or some Afro-Colombian hip-hop with Choc Quib Town

For some raucous dance-punk, catch Death From Above 1979 on Sunday, July 12 at Nathan Phillips Square. More than a decade since their first release You're a Woman I'm a Machineand a split and reunion, the Toronto duo can still bring the punch and grit. 

Also on July 12, you can see Canadian electronic group A Tribe Called Red at CIBC Pan Am Park. The Juno-nominated trio combines a unique fusion of styles including dubstep, hip-hop, and reggae with elements of First Nations music, to produce colossal, emotive tracks. Have you ever been intimidated by music? Check them out for raw, powerful anthems. 

A Tribe Called Red
A Tribe Called Red, photo courtesy of Falling Tree Photography

On Friday, August 7 Montreal duo Chromeo will be taking over the stage at Nathan Phillips Square. Get your groove on as the group brings some electro-funk to the Games.  

For some hip-hop and neo soul, check out American band The Roots on Saturday, August 8 at Nathan Phillips Square. The group formed in 1987 and have quite an expansive catalogue from which to play. 

There are plenty of events happening in addition to the Games, check the PANAMANIA website for more event information. You can also join us this summer for a range of free programming in celebration of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games.

The N Word, Some Context

June 26, 2015 | Bill V. | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

There's been a lot of buzz around President Barack Obama's recent use of the N word on a podcast interview of "WTF with Marc Maron." 

On Monday, Obama, the first African American U.S. president, astute politician and speaker, used the N word in a very public manner. In using such a painful and demeaning term, right after the massacre in South Carolina, Obama may well be trying to intentionally spotlight attention on racism now in America. On Friday, Obama will deliver a eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the state senator who was one of nine people killed in the racially motivated shooting last week in Charleston. While it is unlikely the bookending of these two disparate public speeches is intentional, it is certainly striking.


If you're curious about the origin, history and some context around use of the N word then the following two books and DVD may interest you:

The N word  who can say it, who shouldn't, and why

Jabari Asim was a Washington Post columnist when he published this book in 2007. To quote the Booklist review (and presaging Obama's podcast) "he argues that the word has had a long history of powerful impact in more responsible hands as a reminder of the troubled legacy of race relations in the U.S."

The N Word - Divided We Stand

This DVD uses well known actors, directors, musicians and educators in a pro vs con type format where prominent figures debate the impact of the N word. 

Nigger  the strange career of a troublesome word

Distinguished Harvard legal scholar Randall Kennedy, in 2002, traces the origins and connotations of “the nuclear bomb of racial epithets". The New York Times Sunday Book Review gave it a lengthy review

RIP Archie Alleyne Canadian Jazz Legend and Drummer

June 24, 2015 | Bill V. | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

When I heard that local Toronto jazz musician, trailblazer and drummer Archie Alleyne had died June 8th 2015, it made me nostalgic. In respect to his long career I decided to listen to his LP record Up There.

Up there From Bebop to Now - close up of LP Vinyl record label


I savoured handling the LP and reading the liner notes. I enjoyed the tactile process of taking it out of the album sleeve and then the thin paper cellophane liner. I placed the Sony earphones on and heard the telltale slightly scratching sound of a record. It took me back to listening to him play, quietly and slowly in the room with all the noise associated with a busy club, bar or restaurant.


Up There LP vinyl album cover by musicians Archie Alleyne and Frank Wright Quartet


Did you know the Toronto Reference Library Arts Department still has over 15,000 LP records for you to listen to? We also have over 22,000 CDs. And we have free listening stations for both CDs and two record players. There are several CDs that feature his work including Kollage, featuring Archie Alleyne and Doug Richardson.


Listening to Archie Alleyne's LP record at the Toronto Reference Library Arts Department free record players


There were many obituaries written about Archie Alleyne and I like the different takes on him from the CBC and the Toronto Star. I also thought this online interview with him really gave him a chance to speak in his own voice and fill in the details of his life.

But I was also struck by the information about him on the website of the Archie Alleyne Scholarship Fund for young musicians to further their training and education and its message of "without a past .... there is no future".

If you're not able to come and listen to his record then you might enjoy the following Youtube clips including two performances, one solo interview and a moderated talk with some other black Canadian musicians. 







If you're interested in jazz you'll enjoy this other blog post by Beau on jazz books.

Don't forget to check out the streaming music databases available through the Toronto Public Library's catalogue and the Naxos Music Library (Jazz).

Naxos Music Library Jazz

The Library also has many music scores including ones on drumming and jazz. The largest collection of over 30,000 music scores that you can borrow is found at the Arts Department of the Toronto Reference Library. 

Jazz, Funk & Fusion Over 60 Classic Grooves In Standard Notation

The library's blog devoted to the discovery of diverse artistic, music and cultural works in the library and Toronto.