Dizzy & Fay: Live in Burlington, ON

Dizzy & Fay

While the primary focus of our recent excursion to Southern ON in late February was to catch a show featuring Elliott BROOD, when we discovered that contemporary jazz duo Dizzy & Fay would be performing the following evening in Burlington, well, here was a slam-dunk of an opportunity that we did not want to miss. Having followed the exploits of both Mark Lalama (Dizzy – piano) and Amanda Walther (Fay – vocals) with this jazz project since its inception, an in-person date with this duo was long overdue and tickets quickly purchased. 

With two stunning album releases under their belts – “Songbook” (a 2021 GDW Top 20 Album finalist) and “Hooked” (2022) – the duo had plenty of original material to share during this debut performance at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre. “Wow, this is great, thank you for coming in tonight,” Fay offered when welcomed to the stage. “There are so many people,” Dizzy added.  “All of the songs we’re playing tonight are written by us, and it’s a real tip of the hat to the great songwriters of the Great American Songbook. We hope you enjoy them.”  “I’m just along for the ride,” Fay added with perfect comedic timing. 

Dizzy & Fay

Performing to a full room (2 x 45-minute sets with an intermission), the duo was keen to share a tale of how they originally crossed paths in this very building. “We met on a tour together, and we were performing here. I had secretly always had a dream of singing jazz, one of my favorite genres of music, and I’ve been singing folk with my best friend for twenty years and never really had the courage,” Fay recalled. “I heard Mark play and I thought, ‘oh, maybe he’d be a great guy to collaborate with?’ And I told that to my best friend, who’s my singing partner, and I didn’t have the courage to ask Mark, but Sheila, my best friend, just blurted it out backstage here in this very theatre.” 

“What did she to you?” Fay enquired.  “I was playing the last song of the first set,” Dizzy replied. “You guys were side stage, and I wasn’t even off the stage yet and she said, ‘Amanda wants you to produce her jazz record.’ I said ‘Ok,’ and that’s how it started. We were going to do cover songs of jazz standards that you sang growing up. And then you asked me at one point, maybe we should be a duo, and I said… What did I say?”  “No,” Fay stated boldly, the room erupting into laughter, “A hard NO.”  “It was a no, but then we were working through the songs, and I asked if you had any original music. You had one we worked on together, and then you sang it, and I heard this whole other voice. We started writing other songs, and the next thing you know, Dizzy & Fay were born,” Dizzy continued.  “So, if you like us, you can thank this place. If you hate us, you can curse this place. Can we play that first song?” Which one?” Fay questioned, again, the rebuttal perfectly timed for maximum audience response, laughter flowing freely through the auditorium and subsiding once the duo launched into “Thinking Of You.” 

At various intervals, both artists would share tales of the recording process, Dizzy focusing on the significant cost differences between making both albums. “The first album was just the two of us and a piano,” he stated. “But with the second, we added so much [instrumentation]” Between them, the duo rolled off a list of what you’ll hear on that second album. “We even had a kazoo. A jazz album needs a kazoo,” Fay added, “Oh, and a 28-piece orchestra from Prague.” “The City of Prague Philharmonic string section, we have them on the record as well,” Dizzy added. 

Dizzy & Fay

Delivering plenty of material from both albums, the duo would delight with their gorgeous ballad “Walk Me Home,” whilst lighting up the room with “I’m Alright,” the audience encouraged to become ‘an angry horn section.’ The dominant piano intro to “Boom” would yield to Dizzy’s simple finger clicks, as Fay delivered this bluesy jazz gem – the crowd picked up the ‘Boom, Boom’ vocal accompaniment in no time, filling the room with plenty of enthusiasm and vigor. Adding an unreleased tune during the second set, we really hope to see this crowd-pleasing toe tapper recorded one day for a future release. 

Taking moments to discuss how some of their songs have evolved, the duo shared a tale about “All The Things.”  “So, this song we wrote for the first record, and then it didn’t make it. We had a completely different treatment,” Dizzy commenced. “Yeah, songs sometimes come quickly and fully formed, and they’ve found their personality and it’s loud and it’s right in your face and you know exactly what it wants to be,” Fay continued. “Sometimes songs, even after they’re fully written or composed, they take their time, and this was one. It started off as a ballad. We had a different energy for it, and then we waited. It was ready for the first album, but the song was just not ready.”  “We needed to spend more money,” Dizzy added, returning to the thread about costs. “We needed a whole horn section.” 

Having purchased tickets to this show back in December, we had remained ever-hopeful for decent weather and travel conditions in late February, and on this occasion, Punxsutawney Phil made a pretty accurate prediction. Losing ourselves in a makeshift speakeasy on the northern shore of Lake Ontario in the company of Dizzy & Fay sure made for a perfect Thursday evening.  Here’s hoping we have another opportunity to do it over again soon. 

Set List: 

  1. Everything Is Always You 
  2. There You Are (In My Heart) 
  3. Ordinary Love 
  4. All The Things 
  5. Home Is Where My Heart Is 
  6. I’m Alright 
  7. Thinking Of You 
  8. All The Yous 
  9. Walk Me Home 
  10.  Gravity
  11.  Boom
  12.  Hooked 
  13.  Gotta Gotta Gotta 
  14.  Runaway Train *Unreleased* 
  15.  In A Heartbeat 
  16.  Good News 
  17.  Valentine’s Day 
  18.  See Me In The Dark 
  19.  Never Mind 


  1. Chocolate Cake 

The British guy that crossed the ocean and crash landed in central Pennsylvania (to quote Greg Keelor, “And I wonder what am I doing here?”). As the youngest of four siblings, exposure to music from a very early age nurtured my passion and appreciation for many musical genres. Continuing to discover some amazingly diverse and talented musicians based in Canada, I gravitate to live music experiences and remain devoted to spreading the word about such a vibrant music scene.

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