Just Ask…


Who would have thought that when you ask the universe for a little break, a sign that you are on the right track, it would deliver?

Leaving Toronto I was emotionally exhausted and in need of some sort of clear and strident sign that everything was going to work out.

I had been invited to play a festival/conference in Bremen, Germany, called “Jazzahead!” and, having never been to this conference before, and not thinking of myself as jazz musician, naturally I didn’t have high expectations. Yet, somehow I ended up with the prime slot of the official showcases for their Overseas Night. So I knew that this show was going to be an important one … and I needed a band. (Sadly, my budget prohibits the cost of flying my 6 piece band from Toronto, forcing me to piece together a band in Berlin.)

Fortunately, my surrogate Italian brother Davide Santi is always here for me with his unique finesse, imagination and violin in hand. Angel that he is, he flew up from Milan, ready for whatever I threw at him.

Last October, Davide and I played at one of my favourite venues, Horns Erben in Leipzig. I fell in love with the place immediately: an old distillery for a Leipzig speciality, Leipziger Allash, turned restaurant, bar and music venue, it’s operated by a couple of young idealists, one of whom is Bobby Herrmann.

He and his associates have refurbished this old and absolutely gorgeous building, so full of character and colourful stories, and revamped it for all to enjoy.

In October, it was the last show of our 2012 German tour and I was sick as hell with a rotten cold, praying for a good final show to leave us feeling fulfilled. And, boy, was it ever fulfilling! The audience and staff fed us all the energy we needed and I, surviving on nothing but cold medication, managed to be extraordinarily funny.

The show ended and the two guys running the Horns Erben came up to me and said that our concert had been one of their favourites of all time. They were both pianists (it was obvious that someone had to be, with two gorgeous grand pianos, one for each floor!), and I appreciated their compliments but didn’t it very seriously until one of them, Bobby, said that he would love to play with me someday. Hmmm….

Didn’t think much about this until, about a month after my return to Toronto, Robert sent me an email reiterating that he really wanted to play with me … And then came the next email … Robert was coming to Toronto.


This guy was SERIOUS!

He sent me beautiful compositions that spoke of his excitement and inspiration, and all without words. Who could say No?

During his two weeks staying as a guest at my Nana’s house in Toronto, Bobby couldn’t help but fall in love with her boisterous personality and I couldn’t help but know he was the right man for the job: an absolutely wonderful person and musician who had just fallen into my lap. So here we are, good friends, months later, in Germany, and I have a new addition to the band.

So that’s me, Davide and Bobby … but I still thought I needed a bass player and cellist. However, after 4 last minute cancellations slash failed matches, I accepted that this wasn’t meant to be — and opted for a viola player to compliment Davide.

Through a connection in New York, I was directed to a Julliard graduate living in Berlin. Finally, there were four of us, all set to work together. Then, bam, only one week before rehearsals my violist regretfully advised that she too had to cancel. Frustrated beyond belief, I demanded she find me a replacement. A couple of days later, there was an email from Yuval Hed from Israel. He was on board toting his viola. I didn’t even think about it. As it just so happens, Yuval is a perfect addition to the band, both personally and musically. Another unique and delightful character to throw into my now very international mix of talented musicians.

Rehearsals were set and we all met in Berlin: Chloe, Davide, Bobby and Yuval, together for the first time, playing these songs in new arrangements for the first time. Oh, what fun!

Oh, and guess what? All these boys can sing! Mmmm, harmonies …

So off to Bremen we went, to play at a new venue with no idea of what it would be like and — ta da — it’s AMAZING! Just look at this! Need I say more?

But Bremen’s Kulturzentrum Schlachthof is also a big place and none of us knew what to expect re attendance. It’s intimidating to play for a small audience in a huge venue, so of course we were all just a little apprehensive.

Well, as luck would have it, at 9pm we went on stage in front of 750 people … the Schlachthof at full capacity.

I didn’t think this night could get any better. Not possible. I hadn’t even imagined we would be received by such a crowd. We bowed and left the stage with huge smiles on our faces. And then this incredible applause: the clapping didn’t stop. The audience wanted an encore. And at a showcase full of music industry professionals that just doesn’t happen!

Totally surprised, flustered silly, having not even considered this happening and, restricted by the usual time constraints, we just went up for a quick second bow. I was so happy, I didn’t know what to do with myself. But common sense prevailed and I raced back to sign CDs, selling five times more than I had ever expected.

Hey, and that’s not the end of it …

Attended as it was by a roomful of industry people, the Bremen show brought even more awesome things my way. All because of this one show … Chloe, Davide, Bobby and Yuval have been invited to bring our music all over Europe. Fingers crossed, we will be playing in a bunch of new cities, all over the map, this time next year. I can hardly wait!

So, there you go. When you ask for a sign, when you’re really in need of some positive reinforcement, encouragement and motivation — the universe delivers!

Here is the 2nd showcase of Jazzahead at Kito Club.

And all I can say is THANK YOU to whatever, whomever, wherever, tree, god, toad, space, stars, water, Mom, friends, fans, souls, hearts, science, whatever it was that was listening to me when I needed it …

You rejuvenated my soul.

Cheers to the future…

As the tour is now over, below are a few pictures that tell the story of the last two weeks much better than I could right now…

Here we are in Zurich signing the guest book at Kultur Zentrum Schlachthof where the likes of Norah Jones and Katy Perry have played.

And here is the soundcheck video:

Just outside of Zurich visiting a good friend and awesome musician, Christina Maria AKA Rykka.

Last show of the tour, backstage after the amazing show at Kulturzentrum Zurich, right before we partied like goofs.

I’m a monster!

In Dresden!

Evelyn relaxing in Dresden.

These are Nutria, Muskrat or Bisamratte in German.  I am in love.

Hangin out in Halle at Cafe Brohmers.

Solothun Switzerland is too gorgeous.  We played in romantic lighting under a giant tree beside this canal.

Chillin killin illin in Ludwigsberg, Germany.

Just doin’ what I do best.

Me and my boys…

Robert in 40 years.Davide in 40 years!


Feinkostlampe, Hannover.Me nerding out backstage.Altes Rathaus Leipzig rehearsal.