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Holiday jazz is right Upstairs

December 2011

If you’re looking for a place to enjoy an evening of jazz and have a meal and a drink in an intimate setting, the place to be this holiday season is Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill.

I have been a regular there for much of the past 16 years, since a young Joel Giberovitch, on the advice of his restaurateur dad, Sid, took over the lease from a failing semi-basement venue on Mackay and transformed it into the city’s premiere live jazz venue.

After a fact-finding trip to New York City to visit prime jazz clubs, Giberovitch shaped Upstairs into the place to hear top local and international talent in a warm and respectful setting.

The excellent sound system and Yamaha baby grand piano are appreciated by musicians and fans alike, as is Giberovitch’s call before each set for silence, to respect the musicians and their task of improvising something new and personal.

The bistro-style menu, with snacks and tapas for those with a smaller appetite, are well prepared by Chilean-born chef Juan Barrios.

The main reason for going, however, remains music, and there are two programs this month worth checking out.

Pianist Lorraine Desmarais plays her annual Christmas show December 16 and 17. Desmarais is a superb instrumentalist, a powerful jazz creator who will serve up well-known tunes and give them new shape and vitality and life with improvisations that are the product of a 30-year career.

The first set is at 8:30 pm. Tickets are $18.50, dropping to $15.50 for the second set at 10:15 pm. No charge for the midnight show.

If you’re looking for a comfy place to celebrate New Year’s Eve, blues and cabaret singer Dawn Tyler Watson and her band will be entertaining at the club.

The $134.95 ticket includes three-course meal and sparkling wine at midnight.

514-931-6808, The website livestreams shows.



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