Toronto 1985

Toronto in the 1980s for us meant well-paying jobs, buying a house, getting married and attending as many jazz/blues concerts we could, as my musical education continued. Working with available light, a hand-held analogue SLR and whatever light clubs could cast on the stage, I was a steady film-processing customer at Tom More’s Toronto Black and White lab. Tom also printed hundreds of my images, burning and dodging as I would have liked to, but with both regular part-time and two full-time broadcast PR jobs through the decade, the film work was best left to the expert. While Tom was not a fan of the music, as one critic told me: “You and your printer see the same way.” I could not agree more. Unfortunately, Tom died very suddenly in 2016. Before then, digital photography had overtaken his artform and mine; urban development has since overtaken the Toronto Black & White lot at Queen and River Streets.

With Gino Empry handling the PR, some of the biggest names in jazz appeared at Toronto’s Imperial Room at the Royal York Hotel. Tony Bennett in February, Eartha Kitt later the same year.

Meanwhile, The Bamboo on Queen Street West was showcasing a fair number of jazz and blues types, include Jimmy Smith on the Hammond B3 in the spring of 1985. We believe the guitarist is Jimmy Conder. If anyone can confirm or correct, please Contact Us.

In a rare Toronto appearance, Albert King played his Flying V guitar upstairs at the Brunswick House.

Images (c) Susan O’Connor,, Gallery O. For information or reproductions, please Contact Us.