After nine years at 964 Bathurst, Trane Studio's owner and manager Frank Francis decided not to renew the jazz club and arts events space's lease. (He handed in the keys on the 13th).
"I was missing my own craft," says the theatre writer and director, "and I have three young kids. I have twin girls that were a year old when we opened; they're ten now. So I want to hang with them a little bit and focus on other things - if you spend an hour or two extra a day with your children, it's valuable."
The venue closed suddenly, disappointing some people who wanted to have a party and didn't want the place to shut down, but Francis explains that there were electrical and structural issues going on that would have made a closing party problematic.
"We're probably going to do something in the near future somewhere else," he says. "We've got hundreds of emails and telephone calls. A lot of people have been wishing us the best and (saying) they understand."
What was the vision behind the Trane?
I was the artistic director for a multidisciplinary arts organization called Caliban Arts Theatre. It's still active, not as active as I would like it to be. Started that in 1996. In 2003, the whole idea was to bring a little bit of the Caliban vision to the Trane, which was mainly music, but also a cultural arts space and centre, so we did some of that stuff - like book launches and art expositions and poetry events, sometimes film festivals. But the main thing - I'm not a restaurateur, I'm like an arts facilitator, curator, my training is in theatre and theatre directing, as a writer, a playwright and a screenwriter - I kind of took this on because I thought there was a need in the city for a space that would be committed to art and artists, more so than a venue that was also a restaurant. The main focus was for it to be an arts space, a music space.
I knew of it as a jazz club. Was that the idea behind the name?
My whole idea with Coltrane was, I like Coltrane's philosophy - I mean, for the latter part of his life anyhow - as a very spiritual human being, very open minded in terms of what he brought in with music. So from avant-garde stuff to Asian, he just brought music in to his life full-time and wanted music and saw art, like his album A Love Supreme, as the highest level, to push it to the highest level you could push it. So my thing with Coltrane was that (he) was supposed to be the signifier of what I wanted to do with the space. So while what we call jazz was the underpinning of the space, we brought in other elements around the music, avant-garde stuff, creative music, free music, whatever it is. As long as the artist had a vision and pushed that envelope, we were happy to lend a space for that.
What were some of your favourite moments?
I wouldn't brag about any huge names that came here, I mean, that's fine. What I enjoyed most was watching the evolution of younger musicians coming into their own and watching established musicians working with us making the space what it was.
For example, I've known Waleed Abdulhamid for maybe 20 years now, I've just sort of watched the evolution of his work over the last ten years. Another musician I've really enjoyed watching and hearing play is Scott Marshall for example. Brownman launched several of his bands out of the Trane. What I enjoyed most at that location was the revolution of people coming into their own and calling the Trane home.
We've also had Jimmy Cliff sit in and hung out and it was fun. We've had some interesting visitors and people, but I don't think it really mattered to a lot of people who people were, it was just a space we just sort of welcomed everybody the best we could.
Are you thinking of opening another location with the same name at some point?
I would say yes, but I would say that the ideology would be a lot stronger in terms of the arts. And I would prefer to have someone who is hip to hospitality (help). If we're going to bring the food part into it we're just going to have to make sure that it is done as good or better than the music.
One of the things I think we might be missing in this city is a real strong connection between all the elements - landlords, venues, audience, artists - we have issues with landlord exploiting situations, which isn't good for buildings or communities. If we can pull people together who are interested in purchasing buildings, it makes it a lot easier for arts organizations to make it - venues that do well and have a long legacy are places that own the building and the owners of these buildings have a commitment to the arts and are dedicated to it.