Molly Johnson jives and jams at Jazz Bistro
Unlike Friday night’s performances under the big top tent at Nathan-Philips Square, Saturday night led the crowd to a quaint little venue called the Jazz Bistro on Victoria Street, to hear the melodic harmonies of one of Toronto’s premiere jazz musicians, Molly Johnson.
The place was just oozing with an atmosphere perfectly suited for jazz, the room packed to capacity for the night’s shows.
Patrons and fans were enjoying the food as well as the musical ambiance while Johnson and the band belted out song after song with flawless precision.She then took some time to engage the audience in some witty banter and then slyly quips “…you guys look like your ready for some Duke Ellington,” and then proceeded to perform a trio of Ellington classics with that fabulously smoky voice of hers she’s famous for.
Recently Johnson was asked why isn’t she more popular or well known than she is, after all she is a Juno Award winning jazz vocalist and was around long before Diana Krall, Holly Cole and Nikki Yanofsky, and many other big names hit the scene.Her response was “because I have never been driven by being bigger. In fact, I shun bigger,” she snapped back with cheerfully.
Molly Johnson is a local and she’s damn proud of it. She’s lived in the same house in Toronto’s Annex for 17+ years. There’s a high likelihood that you could run into Johnson on any given day in the Annex or Kensington Market, and she loves running into fans and chatting.Johnson has an artistic, bustling, and enigmatic energy that sometimes goes off on beautiful tangents of musical delight.
Then she snaps you back with her powerful hard edged sassiness, and with a voice like Johnson’s anyone who hears it know they have just been part of an extraordinary musical rollercoaster.
If you didn’t get to see her at TD Jazz Festival this time around, don’t worry, Molly Johnson will perform in concert at Massey Hall, Nov. 30 of this year.
Story and photos by Tee Onek