Toronto Jazz Festival, My Toronto Today, The swingin’ sounds of North Toronto, June 18, 2012
Although artists come from all over the world to take part in the TD Toronto Jazz Festival, many already reside in our community. As the annual event, which takes place across 40 venues around town from June 22 to July 1, draws near we profile three local jazz musicians who call North Toronto home.
When jazz pianist and vocalist Fern Lindzon was growing up, she looked forward to bedtime.
“When I was seven or eight years old, my parents bought a piano and my mom started taking piano lessons,” Lindzon says. “She practised when I went to bed — I actually looked forward to going to bed just so I could hear her play.”
Around a year later, she started taking lessons of her own and already knew a lot of the early repertoire from having heard the songs nightly as she fell asleep.
“My mom tells me that the only thing that would get me to stop being a chatterbox and behave myself was plunking me down in front of the stereo and putting on Bach or Beethoven,” she says.
Although she’s been singing her whole life, Lindzon says she decided to take music more seriously because of her piano teacher Mrs. Poole, who would never entertain the idea of letting her quit, and her friend Joanne Ezrin, whose brother Bob has produced the likes of Alice Cooper, Kiss and Pink Floyd.
“She came from a crazy musical family and they had two grand pianos in their living room,” Lindzon says. “Joanne and I hacked our way through piano concertos. What we missed note-wise, we could hear in our minds. We loved Rachmaninoff.”
Lindzon, whose latest release Two Kites was nominated for a 2012 Juno Award for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year, says she feels lucky to work with musicians like her bass player George Koller, who produced the album, sax player Mike Murley and drummer Nick Fraser.
“I love being completely in the moment,” she says. “I love being in a place where anything is possible and where the music can just go anywhere — that’s why I play jazz.”
Having spent part of her childhood in North Toronto, she says she decided to return to the area to raise her own children.
“I remember the playground outside the Locke Library at Lawrence and Avenue Road,” she says. “My dad used to take us to the library every week. I loved the boys and girls section but I think I loved the long twisty slide in the playground even more.”
In addition to all the nearby parks and trees, she says she likes the fact that it’s a family-friendly community.
“I enjoy seeing street hockey and street-run garage sales and lemonade stands in the summer,” she says. “There are a lot of fabulous restaurants and new ones all the time.”