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Etobicoke Jazz

Student Project

7:00 - 7:45pm

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Liala Biali


8:00 - 9:00 pm

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9:30 - 10:30 pm

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11:00 pm - 12:30 am


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Queen Pepper with

Alison Young & Lorne Lofsky

7:30 - 8:30 pm

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Hilario Duran’s


9:00 -10:00 pm

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Alex Dean

Tenor Madness

10:30 pm - 12:30 am


Christian Antonacci 
is an up and coming young Toronto jazz musician, coming from a musical family that has offered great musicians as early as the 1940s.  Christian is just completing his music studies at the University of Toronto. Even though he is young in years his trumpet style he is steeped in an earlier jazz tradition and emulates a beautiful low register sound very similar to the great Miles Davis.  He is very comfortable in both big band and combo playing and shows a remarkably fast fleeting skill at improvisation.  His melodic approach is well beyond his years.
Christian stays busy working on his craft and getting out to play with his peers as much as possible while dealing with Covid.
He is featured once again at the Etobicoke Jazz Festival with a quintet made up of students from both U of T and the Humber music program.
Laila Biali
Born in Vancouver, Laila began playing piano at a young age.  She studied classical piano for many years with the Royal Conservatory and at age 19 moved to Toronto to enroll in the Humber College Music Program.  Four years later she released her first album “Introducing Laila Biali”.
Since then her musical life has been busy with her move to New York City where she has met, played and toured with many big names, including Sting.
Her style is unique, working with many pop songs and adding her own jazz flavour along with her incredible, expansive vocals.  She is truly one of the most personable and relatable musicians out there today.
The Trio with Robi Botos and Mike Downes
From the hard bop style of Bill Evans and Herbie Hancock, to the swing of 
Oscar Peterson, Robi has managed to master the technique of his idols
all while showing his musical expression in a voice of his own.
Bassist Mike Downes is also an acclaimed composer and jazz educator.
He has been a mainstay on the Canadian jazz scene for many years.
Both accomplished musicians have shared the leadership of a trio that has
produced JUNO award winning albums.  Mike in 2018 for “Root Structure”
and Robi in 2019 for “Old Soul”
Pretzel Logic
This inspired musical ensemble was founded by saxophonist/singer, Peter Graham, in 1994. In his own words, “At the nexus of jazz, blues and rock lies Steely Dan, the musician’s band.  Pretzel Logic is a ten piece band dedicated to the exploration and rendition of the music of Steely Dan.  We began as a labour of love continues as such”.
The result is the listener gets the complete spectrum of Steely Dan’s book. You will say it  sounds amazingly like the records but with their own flair.
The musicianship is top notch and features not only Peter, but Michael Shotton on vocals, Marco Luciani on keys and the famed drummer, Paul DeLong, to mention only a few.
As they will close out the festival on Friday night, I am sure that they will rock you.
Don’t miss this one!
Queen Pepper (aka Mary Vanden Enden)
Is the complete package.  She is a vocal powerhouse, accomplished song writer and she graces the stage with a spellbinding magnetic pull.  Starting to sing at a young age and influenced by the church and gospel music she developed her multi-genre style with the help of studying in the jazz vocal program at Mohawk College and by paying her dues with years of appearances at local Toronto clubs.
Prior to Covid she wrote her first original album with the collaboration of musician/writer Dave Antonacci and released a special single, “One Step Closer to Home” with many more to come in the near future. 
She can often be found playing at the Reservoir Lounge in downtown Toronto where she has been on Thursdays for the last eight years. Check her out on QueenPepper.com
Alison Young
A rising star on the Toronto jazz scene, saxophonist Alison Young is from Ottawa where she cut her teeth in the local jazz and blues community.  Since moving to Toronto she has studied at the University of Toronto with Phil Nimmons, Mike Murley and Kirk McDonald.  Prior to Covid she released her first jazz album “So Here We Are” where her style was compared to many of the old hard swinging sax legends.
As a result she was nominated for the year’s JUNO jazz award.
Very much in demand these days Alison is busing working both locally and on the road.  You can often find her at the Reservoir Lounge, in downtown Toronto as a permanent member of the Queen Pepper group.
Lorne Lofsky
Is an internationally recognized jazz guitarist. Born and raised in Toronto he has been
playing professionally for over forty years.  He has toured, played and recorded with a who’s who of the jazz world including Oscar Peterson, Ed Bickert, Rob McConnell, Joey DeFrancesco, Ray Brown, Chet Baker, Dave Holland, Kirk McDonald and numerous other jazz stars.  He has performed at many international jazz festivals.
In addition he has been a faculty member at York University for many years, teaches online through his website and is a mainstay in the Humber Music Community Music Program. He is considered world-wide as a guitarist’s guitarist.
Hilario Duran
has been based in Toronto for the last two decades but his music heart and soul remain near to the land of his birth.  Hilario was born and raised in Havana, Cuba in a musical family surrounded by a variety of musical influences.  Before arriving in Canada he established himself as an international latin jazz pianist working with such giants as Dizzy Gillespie, Michel Legrand and Arturo Sandoval. He is also an acclaimed music writer and recently established a large orchestra that features many orhis inspired originals.  As a result of all his experiences and endeavours he is a multi-JUNO winner and nominee, a Grammy nominee and a winner of countless other accolades.
Alexander Brown
is a hard bop, post bop and Latin oriented musician. He became one of Cuba’s prominent trumpet players in the late 1990’s and now is one of the most vital players and composers on Toronto’s dynamic music scene.
A resident of Toronto since 2005, Alexander Brown has collaborated with national bands lead by Jane Bunnett, Hilario Duran, Amanda Martinez, Dave Young, Carla Bley,
Danilo Perez, Paquito D’Rivera and many others.
He has recorded two albums under his own name emphasizing ensemble work in his compositions.
Alex Dean
One of Canada’s foremost saxophonists has been a vital force on the Canadian jazz scene for many years.
He has played and recorded with artists such as Gil Evans, Harry Connick Jr, Phil Nimmons and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra among many others.  Alex held the tenor sax chair with Rob McConnell’s Grammy award winning Boss Brass and JUNO winning Tentet.  
Also a member of the Humber music program, Alex has been a longtime friend and supporter of the EJF and we celebrate his release of his first big band album, which debuted just before Covid.


Sponsors will be added soon

Message from the Founder

A brief history (quoting from the past)

As a musician, over the years I have played numerous jazz festivals in and around Toronto and wondered why we, the great music lovers of Etobicoke, didn’t have a jazz festival of our own. With this inspiration I became and remain committed to bringing the best jazz festival to our community, not only by presenting top notch talent but also giving an opportunity to the younger musicians as well as their excellent music educators. They deserve a chance to perform and display all the talent that we have in our neighbourhood. After all we probably have the best music programs in the country as well as a massive talent pool of world class players, circa 2015

Since then we have worked hard to do all the things as prescribed above and until last year, (year 6), we were growing and getting better each year. Unfortunately Covid hit, life changed, and we were all compromised and by the time the fall came around we couldn’t present anything live. Now, this year, we were forced to wait out the lockdowns and just found out in early September that the Crooked Cue might have interest in trying something for later in the fall. As some of the pandemic restrictions have loosened I am thrilled to inform you that we are now presenting a special jazz weekend at the Crooked Cue Restaurant, Etobicoke to be held Oct 29 & 30th.

With our last festival, 2019, we used the Crooked Cue as our main venue for the first time and it worked extremely well for all. The Crooked Cue is very spacious with a great location, step above food and boasts a affluent clientele. On the 2019 weekend we packed the club to over capacity and all had a great time. This year, however, Covid protocols are in place with are limited to the number of guests. It will be a very exclusive event but I think you will enjoy the lineup.

I would like to thank all the people who continue to stay on board, my partner, Jeff Robbs and his business associates, John Sheridan and Matt Smallwood, Taras at Loudmouse Studios, along with my team of Colleen Noble, Miriam Clarke, Eric Boucher, Marco Riquero, Alessandro Spadini, Marshall Boyce and all my musician friends that are always willing to help the cause.

Hope to see you all at the end of October.

Curtis Smith, Founder and Artistic Director