George's Jazz Room

George's Jazz Room (George's Spaghetti House, 1956-84). Restaurant, the longest-running jazz club in Canada.

George's Jazz Room

George's Jazz Room (George's Spaghetti House, 1956-84). Restaurant, the longest-running jazz club in Canada. Located in downtown Toronto, at the corner of Dundas and Sherbourne streets, it was opened by Doug Cole in the summer of 1956, at first offering jazz 'after hours' on weekends, then, beginning 5 Sep 1960, six evenings a week. Cole ran George's until 1983. Ownership subsequently passed through several hands. In 1984 the club was moved from its longstanding location at street level to a second-floor room that previously had been used on an intermittent basis for entertainment under other names - eg, Castle George and A Nice Place.

Except for a period in the mid-1960s when US musicians were featured, George's has presented in the main Toronto jazz and studio players. The bands of Moe Koffman, the club's booking agent, performed there regularly until 1990. George's has been the site of CBC broadcasts and of recording sessions by Ed Bickert, Koffman, Doug Riley, and Time Warp.

A second downtown Toronto club, Bourbon Street, was operated by Cole 1971-83 at 180 Queen St West. Under direction of the agent Paul Grosney it presented US mainstream and modern jazz musicians, usually with local rhythm sections led by Bickert, Carol Britto, Bernie Senensky, etc. Performances there by Bickert, Paul Desmond, Jim Hall, and Frank Rosolino have been issued on record. A second-floor room, Basin Street, was used intermittently in the 1970s and 1980s for jazz and for musicals - eg, Salome Bey's Indigo. Bourbon Street and Basin Street sustained a music policy under other ownership until 1986.

Further Reading

  • McNamara, Helen. 'Doug Cole: that crazy mixture of pizza and jazz makes George's cash registers swing,' Toronto Telegram, 15 Jul 1968

    Harris, Marjorie. 'George's and all that jazz,' (Toronto Star) The City, 22 Jan 1978

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