Cuban food — and music — where??

My neighbourhood of Bloor West Village is not known for particularly interesting restaurants, and certainly not for live music. But things have begun changing recently, at least in one case. Bloom — a restaurant until recently under the same ownership of the Bloor/Yonge Focaccia — after a somewhat promising start, had (in my opinion) regressed to the generally uninspiring, and comfortable niche that seems to work in this neighbourhood. But last year, Focaccia’s chef, Cuban-born Pedro Quintanilla moved to Bloom, and added a bit of Cuban cooking to the menu. More recently, the restaurant was purchased by Luis Mario Ochoa, the … Continue reading

Luminato & other festival info

Part 1 of the summer festival notes.  Check www.events.to-music.ca for details on these and many other events. Summer festival time kicks is here, kicking off this weekend with The Afrofest launch event tonight Beginning Friday, 10 amazing days of free Luminato concerts & the annual free Muhatadi International Drumming Festival Saturday. Afrofest launch: June 7 Tonight in the Ballroom of the Gladstone Hotel, Music Africa announces the lineup for the 2012 Afrofest, this year moved to Woodbine Park. A few names have already been announced including Sam Fan Thomas (Cameroon) and Wazimbo (who put on a terrific show at the … Continue reading

April treats

A gloomy start to the month of “April showers”, but the musical forecast is anything but. Check the full event listings at www.to-music.ca/events A few goodies picked out from there below. (Details and links for all these shows are in the events calendar) April 5: Brazilian/Mexican grooves at the Lula: Aline Morales and Quique Escamilla. April 6, Batuki Music continues its new “Africa Up Close” series at the intimate NOW Lounge, with Malian griot Sountougoumba “Tapa” Diarra. Only $10 April 11: Jane Bunnett’s “Spirit of Music” benefit for Cuban musicians with a raft of guests including Molly Johnson, Njacko Backo and … Continue reading

Desandann: Receiving long-deserved recognition

Sometime in the late 90’s, I first saw Grupo Vocal Desandann, a 10-member vocal group of Haitian descendants living in Camaguey Cuba. They played that night at Harbourfront, and I fell in love with their music.  However, commercial success and wider critical notice has been sadly a long time in coming. Despite their alliance with Jane Bunnett and Larry Cramer, and periodic appearances in the Toronto area and around Canada, they were little known. The effective ban on Cuban musicians in the US did not help. In 2009, Bunnett and Cramer recorded what was only the group’s second CD (Pwan … Continue reading