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July 6, 2006

Toronto Jazz Club Shuts Its Doors

Written by
cindy mcleod

Canadian jazz news

Toronto’s Famed Jazz Club Montreal Bistro Suddenly Closes

Jazz fans in Toronto got a shock yesterday when they discovered their beloved club the Montreal Bistro has shut its doors for good. The club has been a jazz institution for more than 25 years and closes just one year after the Top O’ the Senator, Toronto’s other long standing jazz venue.

Home to both established and emerging artists, the Montreal Bistro was often compared to New York’s Village Vanguard for its richness of talent and the notable recordings captured there.

The Montreal Bistro was run by owners Lothar and Brigitte Lang, who were recently honoured for lifetime achievement at the National Jazz Awards. Industry speculation is such that the Langs were having a lease dispute with their landlord and chose to fast-track a discussed retirement as a result. In brief emails to the Toronto Star Lothar wrote: “After a long fight to overcome several severe setbacks and with no immediate help on the horizon, we had to close…. We wish the circumstances were different. It is not easy for all of us to realize that after 25 years we just lost our livelihood.”

A note on the door informed customers of the closure. “Dear Patrons, The Montreal Bistro has closed its doors for good. Thank you for all your support and loyalty for so many years,” read the typewritten note taped to the door of the Sherbourne St. venue yesterday.

Many view the loss as irreplaceable, although many argue it is not a reflection on the music itself. None can deny the Montreal Bistro breathed Canadian jazz history, presenting such legends as Oscar Peterson and Phil Nimmons, as well as nurturing the early careers of such up-and-comers as Diana Krall and Joshua Redman.

Thank you, Brigitte and Lothar, for taking a chance on jazz.

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