Little Gestalt With Your Jazz:
The Holy Gasp In Toronto's Kensington Market
The setting in the back of Café Pamenar on Augusta Street is like a backyard, with a bower of unkempt grapevines and fruit trees. Seating is at wooden tables, where the communal spirit of the evening's entertainments begins.
It's Kensington Market, still resolutely ungentrified of all Toronto's neighbourhoods, so the drinks are reasonable. As it begins, Benjamin Hackman, host and much more, the musicians, and two performers dressed as Spectres of Death commune on the stage.
On July 28, they were Yunjin Claire Lee on the Piano; Anthony William Wallace on the Violin; George Crotty on the Cello; Andrew Furlong on the Bass; Naomi Higgins and Abigail Neale on the Flutes, and The Spectres of Death were played by Evan Arbic and Sarah Swire.
The music begins to play, an ambient improvisational jazzy backdrop as Benjamin begins to talk to the audience. It starts with names and birthdays, and in short order, becomes confessional. Someone confesses their love for their companion, then talks about being called "too much" and how that feels. Others talk about insecurities and emotions.
It doesn't sound like what typically happens in the backs of bars in any city in the world. It doesn't sound much like entertainment.
"Is anyone willing to undergo transformational change that we can all comment on?"
But, here's what happens. In the face of Benjamin's charming, and completely disarming sincerity, the whole room becomes a happy supportive place. You're smiling, and before you know it, you might even get up on the stage, or to dance, or grab the mic to offer your own experiences to the mix.
The music is lovely and flows easily, and the Spectres of Death assist in handing around the mics and dancing, of course.
You won't be surprised when, in fact, someone is willing to undergo transformational change in front of that warm crowd.
They meet every other Thursday at Café Pamenar, 307 Augusta, Toronto at 8 pm. To find out more, you can stay in touch: