When Canadian jazz legend Holly Cole first moved to Toronto in 1983, the then-19-year-old stayed in Yorkville with a 92-year-old lady. “She was studying Russian!” she says today over the phone from the south shore of Nova Scotia, where she is renovating a historic home to be a part-time residence and Airbnb. “I was just blown away by that.”
So it’s a full circle moment for Cole to play the 32nd annual TD Toronto Jazz Festival, which has its epicentre in the upscale Yorkville neighbourhood. The annual showcase for jazz, gospel, soul, and R&B features 165 free shows in Yorkville as well as ticketed engagements by artists including Seal, Alison Krauss, Cécile McLorin Salvant, and Cole, who plays the majestic Trinity St. Paul’s United Church on June 28th.
“The sound in there is astounding,” she says of the legendary venue where such albums as The Cowboy Junkies’ debut were recorded. “Some venues have no vibe and that’s one thing but this vibe is so strong that I want to be part of it and integrate the set list, the band, the stage plot, and the sound. The sound in churches is different from other venues.”
Cole’s deep repertoire includes her early ’90s work with the Holly Cole Trio (“I Can See Clearly Now,” “Jersey Girl”) and her popular renditions of holiday classics (“Baby It’s Cold Outside”). In addition to her best-loved hits, her Jazz Festival revue will showcase standards from Holly, her first album in six years.
Part of her hiatus was spent caring for her sick mother, who has since passed away. During this time out of the spotlight, her mother encouraged her to learn a new skill.
“So I became a hypnotist!” Cole says proudly. “I do self-hypnosis a lot, and I can sleep whenever I want. I used to have a hard time sleeping and now I can sleep in about 45 seconds. I helped a lot of my relatives and friends with different issues. I did my masters in pediatric hypnotism for kids.”
Much like her original Yorkville landlord, the late-in-life student of Russian, Cole believes learning something new can have a ripple effect through your life. “When you get comfortable in what you do, you can get into a rut,” she says.
“I highly recommend that in life you don’t stop learning new skills as you grow. It inspires you. It reawakens your passion for what it is that you do and that is huge.”
The TD Toronto Jazz Festival takes place June 22–July 1, 2018 in Yorkville.
Holly Cole performs at 8:30 p.m. on June 28th at St. Paul’s United Church, 427 Bloor St. W. Tickets are $40 and $50 and are available through TorontoJazz.com.
Don’t miss these TD Toronto Jazz Festival opening weekend highlights:
Friday June 22
Lester McLean | Yorkville Village – The Lane
Cece Winans | OLG Stage on Yorkville Ave.
Maylee Todd | Pilot Tavern Stealth Lounge
Saturday June 23
Liona Boyd & Friends – A Tribute to Yorkville in the Sixties | Church of The Redeemer
Norman Marshall Villeneuve’s Canadian Jazz Messengers| OLG Stage on Cumberland St.
Bill King Trio w/ Gavin Hope | Sassafraz
Sunday June 24
The Bad Plus | Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre
L.J. Folk Quartet | Yorkville Village – The Lane
Macy Gray | OLG Stage on Yorkville Ave.