A birthday comes but once a year, but no one stretches out the event quite like Jaymz Bee, the inimitable bandleader, Jazz.FM91 broadcaster and author of Cocktail Parties For Dummies. As is his way, he'll be celebrating to the extreme, beginning with a fundraising bebop party in his Liberty Village loft (April 7, www.jazz.fm). The party continues with a swing-jazz dinner with Alex Pangman at the Old Mill Inn (April 9, unisonfund.ca), a jazz vespers at St. Philip's Anglican Church (April 12) and a "punk-funk cabaret" at Lula Lounge (April 13, lula.ca). We spoke to the indefatigable night-life maestro before his big week.
Given that you have to be in a radio studio before seven o'clock in the morning during the week, how do you keep up your evening entertainment schedule?
I have a Cinderella clause. I have to leave the club by midnight, which gets me in bed by 1 a.m. Then I get up at 5:30 a.m. and do it all again. I try not do things on Sunday, not because I'm particularly religious, but I do need that one day off.
You host your fundraising Jazz Safari tour of Toronto, and you've taken donors to other cities as well. How does Toronto stack up?
We're second or third in North America. No doubt, hands down, New York is first. New Orleans lives and breathes music. So, I'd put Toronto third, just before Chicago, and way before Montreal or Vancouver.
What's something unique about Toronto's jazz scene?
We don't have the cutting contests that they might have in New York or Philadelphia. When people jam here, there's a lot more support for each other and less cattiness. If you get up on an open stage or sit in on a jazz jam in New York, you better be good or you'll be dismissed. But here, there seems to be a more forgiving nature. Which is good for the musicians, but it may not be as good for the audience.
What's your take on the health of the club scene here?
Tonight, right now, there are 20 jazz things you can do. A place like La Revolucion at Dundas and Keele, or Gate 403 on Roncesvalles, they don't have the budget to advertise. So, there's jazz everywhere. It's just a little tougher to find than it used to be.
You were an early Michael Bublé booster. Who's a young Toronto act you're digging now? Does Barbra Lica do it for you?
I'm glad you mentioned her. I think Barbra Lica, of anyone I know right now, is poised for international stardom. I have to laugh though, because I'm going to the same people that I went to with Bublé when he was in my band. I took his music around and people all said he should do Frank Sinatra tributes on a cruise ship. Now 12 years later, I go back to the same people and tell them: "You remember when you didn't listen to me about Bublé? Well here's the next one." I play them Barbra Lica, and they say she's lovely and they love it, but don't do anything.
Maybe send her to New York?
I really believe she's going to to get famous outside of Canada first. It will be England, Japan or the United States. It'll be something big, though. She's ready to go, that girl.