By John Devenish

Lou Pomanti | Credit:David Leyes

When I was younger, I felt my mother was made of music. She also taught kindergarten, special education classes, taught teachers, led children’s choirs, gave piano lessons, vocal coached, and conducted many a school production. She played in the church in her earlier years. With all of that, she was often called upon to be the accompanist. She loved accompanying singers, especially. Having read The Unashamed Accompanist by Gerald Moore, she lived for his words of wisdom. In the forward to the German edition of the book, these words rang strongly for her: “There is no more of that pale shadow at the keyboard; he is always an equal with his partner.”

The accompanist truly builds a world within which the accompanied lives and thrives. A safe creative space of nurture, respect, and care. Often assumed to just be support, the player or partner is at once a coach, cheerleader, arranger, conductor, and musical sustenance in every musical moment.

Lou Pomanti is the consummate accompanist — and accompanied artist’s partner. He is the artist in step and the safe-space builder. His is a presence not unlike the famed Paul Sith, once upon a grand time accompanying Ella Fitzgerald. The artistry is the giving to the piano keyboard power as a voice, with the voice, lending character that matches the performer out front — joining them without stealing or robbing; caring, nurturing and sustaining all at once, and at the same time enticingly in step in every single moment of creativity.

Jean Darlene co-owners Mark Holmes, Fadi Hakim, and Joseph Eastman. Photo: Manuela Nudo

Platinum Blonde frontman, songwriter and entrepreneur Mark Holmes, who created the popular mod club 60s-themed music nights at Toronto’s Lava Lounge, then Revival and finally its own venue, The Mod Club Theatre — and was also a popular deejay known as DJ MRK — has opened a new spot with partners Fadi Hakim and Joseph Eastman.

Jean Darlene — named after the clothing store that operated there for decades — is a cozy yet sophisticated piano lounge in the trendy Ossington area.

Specialty cocktails for the soft opening included four deliciously dangerous concoctions called John, Paul, Ringo and George. Behind the gold-wrapped baby grand was Meher Steinberg (Lou Pomanti also played) with guest singers Danny Greaves (of The Watchmen), drag queen Ivory Towers (lip-syncing), and Holmes himself.

Jean Darlene Piano Room, as it is billed on the marquee, is located at 1203 Dundas St. W, with its entrance in the alleyway behind KFC. The club is set up to feature live performances, piano karaoke and DJs. “It’s styled after a NY staple piano bar,” Holmes tells FYI. “It fits about 60 comfortably and serves high-end cocktails. We are doing many live music events with known artists in intimate surroundings.

“It’s a place for pros who like to work their chops out in front of other pros and a happy audience (hopefully). We hope to create a hub for established and up-and-coming musical humans. There is nothing like this in the city at the moment, but I’m sure that will change after we become more popular.”

Lou Pomanti
Credit:David Leyes

Award-winning composer, arranger, pianist, producer, and bandleader Lou Pomanti has worked in countless areas of the music business and has received accolades in each.

After working on numerous projects for other artists, Pomanti has used some of the time over the pandemic to work on a project that finds him hosting a musical party featuring some of his best mates on a new record appropriately titled Lou Pomanti and Friends.

It’ll be launched with an all-star event at the Paradise Theatre on May 27. Pomanti joined us on the line to tell us a little more about it.

It’s great to hear this new record. The cover photo — which is hilarious, by the way — the list of guests, the pieces themselves, the arrangements… The whole thing is fabulous. Let’s start from the beginning: How did the project come about?

The project came about from my monthly stint at the Jazz Bistro here in Toronto. I started a monthly gig called “Lou Pomanti and Friends,” and I’d invite a few singers or instrumentalists out to perform with me. It went so well that I was selling out every time I played there. Then of course, the big bad COVID hit and that got sidelined. We had a little reprieve, a year later I went back, it was selling well again, and that’s when Jaymz Bee said to me, “Look, this is obviously working. Why don’t we do a record?” I said Jaymz Bee, you’ve got it.

You’ve done so many things. The world in which you work is wide and varied. What does this particular album mean to you?

You know, I’ve been a journeyman, a behind-the-scenes guy my entire life. My second career started in 1983. I disappeared from the live stage for 15 years. You did not see me. Then I formed my band the Dexters, and that was a bit hit, and blah blah blah. Anyway, I’ve done many, many things in my life — everything from arranging to production to being a sideman; I even wrote some jingles in the true Toronto tradition of Doug Riley and all of those guys. Now, I don’t do a lot of things. The present that I’ve given myself at this age and at this stage in my career is that I’m really just making records, and I’ve stopped the whole TV and film business. I’m just making records and playing live with people that I really want to play with — and that’s it.

When it comes to choosing the people and music involved, how did you make the choices for this album?

A couple of them were easy, because some of them are just my favourite people on Earth. The last five years of working with Marc Jordan and producing his last two records, [he’s] one of my favourite people … and he’s one of the most über-talented guys, so he was a natural. David Clayton-Thomas, whom I’ve worked with since 1980, was a natural. Emilie-Claire Barlow, who was my next-door neighbour when she was 15 years old, was a natural. And my new great buddy Randy Brecker, who I’ve been using on all my records for the last four years or so, was a natural.

It was the people closest to you. In general, there’s a friendship and a connection, so the musical connection is an obvious one?

There are no strangers here. It’s all people that I’ve known. I’ve produced John Finley’s record. I’ve produced June Garber’s record. I’ve worked with Dione Taylor many times. I’ve co-produced Matt Dusk’s last two records. And one of them is my son. So, there are no strangers. It’s not Lou Pomanti and Acquaintances.

That’s the next record.

Yeah, and as Ronnie Littlejohn says, the third record will be Lou Pomanti and People I’ve Blocked on Facebook.

The record is going to be released on May 27 at the Paradise Theatre. What can people expect from the show?

The fabulous Paradise Theatre, they’ve revamped [it] and spent $7 million. It’s a fabulous place. I’m going to have a whole bunch of friends there. I’m going to have Marc Jordan, Robyn Black, John Finley, Irene Torres, and I’m going to have a great backup band. We’ve got Queen Pepper opening. It’s going to be me playing most of the tunes off the record, and maybe even a few tunes from my first solo album Welcome to the Boogaloo Lounge. 



Roy Ayers

In a 25 year career as composer, producer, musician Gemini Award winner and five time nominee, Lou Pomanti has amassed credits in scoring, song writing, and performing on hundreds of musical projects for film, television and albums.

As one of Canada’s foremost keyboard players Lou toured the world with Blood Sweat and Tears and recorded with Anne Murray, Gordon Lightfoot, Platinum Blonde, Triumph, Jeff Healy and Kim Mitchell. As well, Lou has worked for producers Phil Ramone and Bob Rock. He produced “Soul Ballads” the recent David Clayton-Thomas album on Universal and orchestrated strings and horns on six tracks for Michael Buble’s biggest selling album, Crazy Love.

Lou has been the musical director of The Gemini Awards, the Juno Awards, and The Genie Awards. He was an award winning musical director for the Canadian Songwriters’ Hall of Fame which inducted Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and Paul Anka and which featured Lou’s arrangements being performed by Herbie Hancock, James Taylor and Michael Buble. Lou also composed the music suite for the closing ceremony of this year’s Pan Am Games in Guadalajara Mexico.

As a film and television composer he has written and produced the soundtrack music for features, dramatic series, comedy series, animated series, reality series and documentaries representing nearly every era and genre. Lou also produced and arranged the music for the Rush video which they used to open each concert on their recent tour. As well, in order to supply a full package service for his clients, Lou, with multi award winning producer/engineer Jeff Wolpert ( ) has just opened a full service recording studio conveniently located in downtown Toronto.

Lou has just released his first solo album of original work called Welcome to the Boogaloo Lounge for his own label LPMusic Records. Welcome to the Boogaloo Lounge is a funky tribute to the soul and r&b sounds that dominated Toronto’s Yonge Street in the 1960’s. Primarily a driving funk and instrumental album nonetheless there are a couple of standout vocal tracks. Track #3, Give It Up, is a saucy Stax like r&b romp but the standout vocal track is #4, Loving You, the gorgeous, steamy ballad sung by Dione Taylor and Duane Blackburn, two of Toronto’s most authentic soul singers. It pays homage to the great duets from Motown and Philadelphia. The album is available on Itunes, through the Indie Pool in Toronto (, or at the Sunrise Records chain. The album can be streamed at

For more information, including audio and video clips from his numerous film and television credits, please go to

Malcolm Glassford (416)462-1843