A veteran photojournalist on the arts and entertainment scene, Julian Bynoe is a Toronto-based cartoonist, artist and arts blogger. From 1996 to 2014, he was the arts/entertainment editor for the street publication The Outreach Connection, and has had articles featured in Realms Magazine, among others.
Comic Strip Tribute
With the sudden death of 1990s grunge rock pioneer Chris Cornell on May 17, a Hounds of Love comic strip tribute has been made to the frontman for Soundgarden and Audioslave, as well as a highly regarded solo career. While I listened to very little alt-rock during that period, I’ve always had a deep respect and ear for it. R.I.P., Spoonman.
for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf (Soulpepper Theatre)
Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 50 Tank House Lane
Wednesday, May 17; 7:30 p.m.
A celebrated groundbreaking example of feminist theatre comes alive onstage with Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, the classic “choreopoem” still holds sway forty-one years after its Broadway debut as rendered by Soulpepper Theatre on the African-American woman’s experience of the joys, pains and sorrows of universal sisterhood that will reach its audience.
Broken down into twenty poetic segments over a 93-minute timeframe, seven ladies representing the colour spectrum, brown (Tamara Brown), yellow (Karen Glave), purple (Ordena Stephens-Thompson), red (d’bi.young anitafrika), green (Akosua Amo-Adem), blue (SATE) and orange (Evangelia Kambites) dance, chant and sing acapella on a sparse stage on what is it to be women of colour struggling through the male hierarchy on a near-daily basis and looking to heal from it.
It’s one of those plays which manage to break open taboo subjects as unflinchingly as it should on the topic of sexual assault during the powerful “latent rapists” and abortion in “abortion cycle #1.” Two new additions to the original 1976 play written in 2010 to reflect on current times comes in “positive,” a discussion on HIV/AIDS and “a nite with beau willie brown” on domestic violence of where the lady in red recalls her confrontation with her Iraqi War veteran boyfriend whose now become an abusive, PTSD-scarred junkie.
Yet there are moments of gladness and humour when the ladies discuss their sexual experiences (“graduation nite”, “no more love poems #2”) and of awareness of the self in one of the play’s poignant moments, “touissant” where the lady in brown recalls her first childhood “crush” with the Haitian revolutionary hero Toussaint L’Ouverture at age eight until a unexpected and pivotal moment at seventeen changes all that for the better.
Director Djanet Sears holds the context of the 1970s spirit without that dated feeling and putting together a fine repertoire of actors to perform for colored girls, in particular from anitafrika’s nail-biting “beau willie brown” scene and Amo-Adem’s attempt in finding her own conviction in “somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff” in confronting a former lover is unforgettable in reaffirming female empowerment.
Michelle Ramsay’s lighting designs know when (and when not) to bring on the intensity of the roles and dialogue along with the choreography of Jasmyn Fyffe and Vivine Scarlett. Astrid Janson’s ‘70s-inspired costume designs have that retro-cool, although I saw little logic with the addition of a rising, curved stage platform ramp, thus being the production’s only flaw.
Still, it’s not often for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf gets staged in Toronto, so this would be the opportune time to do so for its limited run in seeing the free-flow of poetry, dance and drama roll into a testimony and tribute with such liberty and conviction as it does here.
for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf continues through May 31. For tickets and information, call 416-866-8666 or visit soulpepper.ca
Left-right: Veteran rocker Randy Bachman; the all-female jazz supertrio ACS Trio of Geri Allen, Terri Lyne Carrington and Esperanza Spalding and Queen of Soul diva Aretha Franklin comes to next month's 31st Toronto Jazz Festival.
Toronto Jazz Festival 2017 Preview
For its first significant area location move since 2011, the Toronto Jazz Festival takes their traditional central hub of Nathan Phillips Square into a part of town that hasn’t seen nor heard the sight and sounds of the fest for close to twenty-five years: the tony high-street shopping enclave of Yorkville this June 23 to July 2, plus reinvigorate an old music venue nearby whilst celebrating the anniversaries of the Summer of Love, the birth centenaries of Thelonious Monk and Buddy Rich and, of course, Canada’s 150th year of Confederation.
“Yorkville housed one of the most vibrant scenes in North America during the 1960s and 1970s and the Jazz Festival is excited to bring the music back to the area” states Chief Executive Officer Howard Kerbel. “For a brief period in the festival’s history, we had concerts in Yorkville and we will once again embrace the area’s rich musical legacy.”
But kicking off things will be two festival preview concerts with neo-jazz star crooner Gregory Porter on June 21 at Koerner Hall (273 Bloor Street West) and the Renee Rosnes Trio at Jazz Bistro (251 Victoria Street) for June 22 at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. dates. And keeping in spirit of the 1960s will be legends Aaron Neville doing the fest’s free concert June 24 at the Yorkville Stage and Canuck rock god Randy Bachman with special guest Walter Trout at the newly-revived Masonic Temple Concert Hall (888 Yonge Street) June 23, with the specially-priced ticket of $19.17 to mark the venue’s centennial.
“For the last one hundred years The Concert Hall in Toronto’s historic Masonic Temple has hosted live performances, including big band orchestras in the ‘30s and ‘40s, Frank Sinatra’s private parties in the ‘50s, [as] the Rock Pile in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and The Concert Hall in the 80s and 90s,” states William Russell, Executive Director of 888yonge Inc. “We are excited to partner with the TD Toronto Jazz Festival and reintroduce this historic venue to a new generation of music lovers.”
Other powerhouse acts coming to the Concert Hall will be the all-female supertrio ACS: Allen, Carrington, Spalding consisting of pianist Geri Allen, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding making a rare appearance this summer on June 24; the Grammy-winning Robert Glasper Experiment with opening act Candice Springs on June 27; South African Afrofuturist group Shabaka and The Ancestors with opening act Donny McCaslin Group on June 28 and Toronto’s John LaBarbara Big Band doing their “Celebrating Buddy Rich” come June 29.
A Snarky Puppy alumnus night is set to comeon June 30 as members Michael League and Larnell Lewis go on with their solo projects, starting with the Larnell Lewis Band opening for League’s multicultural Bokanté that includes the lead vocals handled by Guadeloupe-born, Montreal-based (and Snarky Puppy collaborator) Malika Tirolien singing in Creole and closing out the series line-up is 4 By Monk By 4 with the all-star grouping of pianists Kenny Barron, Benny Green, Gerald Clayton and Cyrus Chestnut, performing solos, duos and together as a quartet, all in honour of Monk’s 100th birthday.
Rounding out the rest are performances at the Jazz Bistro featuring husband-wife duo Bill Charlap/Renee Rosnes Duo (June 23), Bill Charlap and Carol Sloane (June 24), Sheila Jordan Quartet (June 27), Guido Basso Quartet (June 28), Ingrid and Christine Jensen with Ben Monder: Infinitude (June 29) and Carol Weisman Trio (June 30); Koerner Hall with Mavis Staples (June 27), Hiromi Duet: Featuring Edmar Castañeda (June 28) and another jazz supergroup Hudson with Jack DeJohnette, Larry Grenadier, John Medeski and John Scofield (June 29) and Joss Stone performing at the Danforth Music Hall (147 Danforth Avenue).
But the coup de grâce for this year’s festival belongs to Aretha Franklin doing a Toronto stop on her “semi-retirement” tour – the undisputed Queen of Soul is slowing down her performing schedule to spend more time with her grandchildren before they’re in college and sticking to doing maybe one or two special dates in a given year after this tour’s done – on July 1 at Sony Centre for the Performing Arts (1 Front Street East).
Ticketed events now on sale; some venues and events are FREE. For information, call 1-855-872-7669/sonycentre.ca (Aretha Franklin); 416-408-0208/koernerhall.ca (Koerner Hall series); 1-855-985-5000/ticketmaster.ca (Joss Stone); 1-888-655-9090/ticketpro.ca (Concert Hall series/Jazz Bistro series) or visit torontojazz.com.
CONTACT Photography Festival 2017 Reviews
Part 4 of a 5-part series
David Burdeny: Oceans
Bau-Xi Photo, 350 Dundas Street West
Through May 31; Daily 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
The pull of large water masses can be so alluring if forbidding when one sees David Burdeny’s Oceans series where he makes a statement on the strength and fragility of our aquatic bodies on archival pigment prints framed on substrate. As seen in the two-part “Blue Coast, Realmonte, Agrigento, Sicily” of sunbathers gathered on a white sloping rock face against a stretch of blue and submerged coral reef or the aerial shot of “Rock Pool, Australia” with people near a azure blue-green pool blends in so beautifully with a jutting rocky outcrop below.
Burdeny manages to pull an Edward Burtynsky with “Broome 03” and “Broome 04” that works out nicely enough; the expansiveness of rippled waves against the faded coastline backdrop of “Shark Bay 01, Gascoyne, Western Australia” and exhibit highlight “Sandbars 04, The Bahamas” provides a profound sense of solitude of a private island dwarfed in the midst of the Caribbean Sea just nails it completely. But if you want a break from the blues, “Saltern Study 10, Great Salt Lake” is a real pretty one with the array of salt pans breaking up into a vast of red, orange and purple hues.
Chris Lund: Canada in Kodachrome: Imaging Pleasure and Leisure
St. Patrick TTC Station, 449 University Avenue/Dundas Street West, northbound platform
Through May 28; Weekdays 5:55 a.m.-1:45 a.m., Saturday 5:55 a.m.-1:45 a.m., Sunday 8 a.m.-1:45 a.m
Working for the National Film Board of Canada’s Still Photography Division in the 1950s and ‘60s, Chris Lund took thousands of photos of the country’s prosperity – or an idealized one – in that time period that made it into national and international publications. Such is the basic theme behind Canada in Kodachrome down at St. Patrick station’s 22 4x6’ inkjet photos on coroplast dotting along the northbound platform mainly of ourselves at basic tourist spots and leisure times.
Picturesque and rose-coloured as they look now, it’s a quaint moment of innocence before the counterculture and upheavals the latter-half of the ‘60s would bring and how truly lilywhite we saw ourselves, compared to the multicultural society we have pretty much established. But at least, in the words of that old Paul Simon tune; it gives those nice, bright colours, gives us the greens of summers and makes you think all the world’s a sunny day, oh yeah.
Robert Burley: An Enduring Wilderness: Toronto’s Natural Parklands
John B. Aird Gallery, Ontario Government Building – Macdonald Block, 900 Bay Street
Through May 26; Weekdays 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday 12-5 p.m.
With our city’s population expected to reach an additional 360,000 by 2031, the challenge to maintain our inner greenbelt considering what climate change, urban renewal and industrialization can/will bring is the focus of Robert Burley’s commissioned series An Enduring Wilderness: Toronto’s Natural Parklands should be seen as a record and a study into how to possibly counter these pressing problems.
Taken around the major urban valleys of the Rouge, Don and Humber, the exhibit of 24x32” photos urges us to consider that they are, quite literally, the city’s lungs to provide us with oxygen and a little nature within as seen in “Cormorant nesting area, Tommy Thompson Park” of said birds perched among barren trees while seagulls cover the ground against the city skyline or a canopy of ferns carpeting the forest floor in “Riverside Trail, Rouge Park” amongst live and dead tree branches.
Of course, human nature can’t be totally ignored from catching a couple of semi-nude bathers on a overcast day at “Hanlan’s Beach, Toronto Islands” at our only sanctioned ‘clothing optional’ beachhead; “Marathon Run, Rosedale Valley, Ravine Lands” taken on a rainy autumn day as a light fog hangs over the area with the fall colours in slight-faded bloom gives a nice touch over the runners down below and the greenery is totally lush in “Mimico Creek,” if only the encroaching condos didn’t look so damn threatening.
The exhibit presents a good look at our tamed wild side and the topographic wall models made of maple veneer and steel with aerial shots to present the present conditions of the city’s ravines, but they’ve could have chosen a few winter shots – as seen in the accompanying ECW Press coffee table book version – like “Colonel Danforth Park” or “Park Drive, Reservation Lands” to get a real sense of the four seasons and nicer contrast.
CONTACT 2017 currently running through May 31. Most venues are FREE. For information, call 416-539-9595 or visit scotiabankcontactphoto.com.
©2014-2017 Julian Bynoe/Snow Leopard ArtsEntertainment. All rights reserved.