Class Acts on College

Laila Kadri

Written by Joe Taylor

December 03, 2019

This was a first for me to go to a movie theatre to see a concert, but that is what happened at The Royal Cinema located at 608 College Street. We had Kadri Voorand fly in from Estonia just for this event and Laila Biali out Toronto Jazz great ready to give us an evening of soulful entertainment.

If you ever get caught dreaming and driving, bets are on that you are listening to Kadri Voorand. This fanciful little sprite filled the classic movie theatre into a fanciful atmosphere of ethereal emotions dipped in a swathing blanket where it was a safe place to lose oneself into the dreamscape of innocence.

She embodies the spirit of Ella Fitzgerald, Kate Bush, Laurie Anderson and has similar toys to Imogen Heap. Her lyrics seem innocent and a little simplistic, but fall under several layers of emotion depths that most pop stars only dream of. Her message is that we have this big beautiful brain that can imagine anything, so why not use it to live the way you really want to. You can hear it in a song about John and Yoko simply changing the world from their bed…imagine that.

This is the kind of artist that will find certain rules to forge her sonic telegrams and then change them on her whim. Yes she can do that.

Here are some images from Kadri Voorand’s performance:

Well if that didn’t give your thoughts an amazing workout, we then sat and began to get captivated by our own Laila Biali. What I found great about these two women that graced the wonderful Royal stage is the fact that either one of them could not contain their happiness as they sang.

Laila was accompanied by two other musicians, Rich Brown on Bass and her husband Ben Whitman on Drums. Where the essence of this trio lay was in the fact that they looked like a classic weigh scale on stage. Laila and Ben looked like two gladiator bookends battling for the top spot of attention. They both have a fiery spirit and simply compliment each out like some fine vintage wine and the perfect piece of cheese. There, right in the middle was Rich Brown with his very smooth bass playing keeping the balance between the two of them. His playing was like floating down a lazy river and keeping the calm as both shores on either side of him were burning down.

Laila played a variety of her material and mixed in some great classic rock songs completely rearranged. Her arrangements were all very complementary to the original. She stretched it far enough but never too far where it could snap back in her face. She borrowed a song from the great Canadian songbook and put out a Neil Young classic, where as onto a true fan screamed out in approval. You know who you are, HeHe. She got to dance with David Bowie, turned Yellow with Coldplay and went back in time to revisit Woodstock.

Here are some images from Laila Biali’s performance:

To finish of a great evening, both bands joined forces on stage for the encore. A rousing rendition of Laila great song,” Got to Love” was played with pure playfulness and joy. Then to finish of this truly unique experience, there was a total improvisational piece, led by Kadri and went on for several minutes as the crowd soaked in every note. If you truly were listening, you would be able to pull out the song, “Walking in a Winter Wonderland”, sung in Estonian. I think the Neil young fan let me in on that little tidbit, HeHe.

Here are some images of their dual performance:

What else can I say, but if you missed it, you truly lost out on a magical evening. Let’s hope Kadri returns to Canada soon, so more people may be enlightened with her unique gift and continue to find out where Laila is playing. This jazz artist is one of Toronto’s gems and needs to be shared with everyone.

If you want more info on Kadri, go check out her sound at…

Laila Biali can be found at…

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