Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 18, No.3, 2019

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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Bernard Dubé
  Contributing Editors
David Solway
Louis René Beres
Nick Catalano
Chris Barry
Don Dewey
Howard Richler
Gary Olson
Lynda Renée
Jordan Adler
Andrew Hlavacek
Daniel Charchuk
  Music Editors
Serge Gamache Emanuel Pordes
Diane Gordon
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Chantal Levesque Denis Beaumont
Marcel Dubois
Emanuel Pordes
  Past Jazz Contributors

Tommy Emmanuel
John Stetch
Susie Arioli
Coral Egan
Diana Krall
Stacey Kent
Carol Welsman
Aldo Romano
Denzal Sinclaire
Madeleine Peyroux
Bireli Lagrene
Sonido Isleño
Provost & Lachapelle
Kevin Breit
Sophie Milman
Annie Poulain
Badi Assad
Donato & Bouchard
Ingrid Jensen
John Roney
Russell Malone
David Binney
Mimi Fox
Voo Doo Scat
Coral Egan
Martin Taylor
Jordan Officer
Melody Gardot
Jean Vanasse
Yves Léveillé
Sylvain Provost
Louciana Souza
Patricia Barber
Jill Barber
Corrine Bailey Rae
Chet Doxas
François Bourassa
Sylvain Luc
Neil Cowley
Marianne Trudel
Florence K
Terez Montcalm
Cyrus Chestnut
Tord Gustavsen
Sarah MK
Julie Lamontagne
Vincent Gagnon
Arioli & Officer
Jean Félix Mailloux
Becky Noble
Vijay Iyer
Lionel Loueke
Tia Fuller
Cécile McLorin Salvant
Emma Frank
Shai Maestro
Christine Jensen
Vincent Rehel
Kat Edmonson
Jaga Jazzist
Cline & Lage
Fred Hersch
Gregory Porter
Takuya Kuroda
Edmar Castaneda
Donny McCaslin
Kurt Rosenwinkel
Keyon Harrold
Sonia Johnson
Theo Crocker
2010 Montreal Guitar Show (Sylvan Luc)

Montreal Jazz Festival 2010







Piano Keyboard



“Clear days are so good and free.” -- the iconic lyric sung by Flora Purim on Chick Corea’s iconic album Light As a Feather. Especially in northern climes, the lyrics evoke those perfect days we associate with the summer that comes and goes all too quickly.

When it comes to celebrating summer, there’s nothing like the now world renown 10-day Montreal International Jazz Festival (MJF) that begins a week after the solstice. What makes the festival special is that not only are the “clear days so good and free” but there are hundreds of free concerts that begin at noon and continue until closing time. Yes, for the duration of the festival there's a Havana Moon hanging high over Montreal. Unnoticed in the 1000ds of positive reports the festival has generated over the years is that it is above everything else a people’s festival. On any given day, you (family and/or friends) can attend the many free outdoor concerts that are strategically embedded in the heart of the festival. Along with the music you’ll also discover that the city is a magnet for the world's polyglot of languages, which redounds to the festival’s continually evolving creative programming that attracts music and culture lovers from the four corners of the globe.


In the early 1980s, when festival founders Andre Menard and Alain Simard were growing the MJF, they had an idea which would become the template for all festivals looking to survive the financial burdens mega-events invariably generate. They understood that the best way to introduce listeners raised on pop, rock or rap and hip-hop to the more demanding and complex language of jazz would be to provide it free. If jazz is now one of the mainstays of the city, it’s because Menard and Simard created the ideal conditions for listeners to expose themselves to an unfamiliar musical language while having fun. Jazz is a constantly evolving form with many different approaches to structure and expression (free-form, bee-bop, manouche, fusion, cool, swing, The American Songbook); and thanks to the free shows listeners can try them all out and then pick and choose.

LOCATION ALERT = Hyundai Stage - le Parterre (corner of De Montigny and Clark)

Location location location is not only the buzzword in real-estate, but also for festival venues; and where steel and cement make up the core of the city center, anything that is green and grows will attract the undivided attention of city folk starving for the natural world. And when it comes to cool grass under the feet (and legally in the air since Oct. 2018) there's nothing that rivals the green acres that cozy up to the Hyundai Stage -- the festival's perennial venue for all that's the blues. It's a huge area where blues fans congregate, bringing snacks and blankets in preparation for the best of what 12-bar has to offer in terms of composition and especially improvisation.

From their origins in New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta in the early 20th century, jazz and blues have supplied both the impetus and architecture for music that appeals to musicians for whom improvisation -- the spontaneous translation of feelings into music -- is the genre's crowning achievement. And while jazz ( and that includes 12-bar jazz), is more interval-rich and structurally elastic than blues, the latter requires no defending in respect to its emotive power and the memorable solos it generates. In the words of blues legend B. B. King, "the blues plays no second fiddle to anybody's any music." At which point Mr. King stops talking and brings out Lucille (his trusted guitar) to make his point.

This year, the Hyundai stage features 30 concerts that begin at 7 pm, then 9 pm, followed by a repeat of the 9 pm at ll pm; the 7 pm under the late afternoon sun, the later concerts when Montreal becomes North America's city of lights, city of nights.

If it's the female voice you're hankering for, this year's Lady Sings the Blues line-up will not disappoint: Cécile Doo-Kingué, Angélique Francis, Miss Emily, Barbara Diab, Jenie Thai, Dawn Tyler and Sue Foley bring a variety of styles and voices to the stage.

Be sure to catch Cécile Doo-Kingué (June 27, 7 pm) whose up-tempo funky style is offset by a deep, butter smooth voice while her highly original solos take you to places where most guitarists fear to tread. This women isn't afraid of a little bit of dissonance.

Multi-instrumentalist Angélique Francis (June 29, 7 pm) and her near all-women band combine gospel and the delta in music that evokes chain gangs and the sins of the nation.

When it comes to walkin' the walk and talkin' the talk, the rhythm and blues of Jenie Thai (July 2nd and 3rd, 7 pm) will show you how it gets done right.

In the spirit of Big Mama Thornton, there's not enough sky to contain the booming voice of Miche Love (July 6, 7pm).

And last but not least, two concerts that are sure to generate highlight reel of the highest quality: Montreal's dynamic Dawn Taylor Watson (June 30, 9 pm) is one of the city's great blues performers, and Canada's Sue Foley (July 6, 9 pm) is rapidly becoming an international blues star. She brings an unadulterated confessional voice to her original material and her soloing makes you forget that it's not the fingers but the heart that plucks the strings.

For blues-harp fans, Gaz Bar Bluesman Guy Belanger is the man: he's dedicated his entire career to keeping alive the spirit of Sonny Boy, Little Walter and the great Junior Wells 'alive and well.' He'll be joined by the rich and resonant voice of singer Kim Richardson on June 27th, 11 pm. Don't be late on this date for this non-nonsense, earthy duo.

Piano man Victor Wainright (June 29, 9 pm), brings one of the best (clean and smooth) voices to the stage: he'll remind you of Dr. John which is nothing to sneeze at.

When it comes to deliciously long solos that begin on a slow burn and fan out in the finest filigree before stopping just short of the distort, you gotta see J. P. Soars (July 2, 9 pm). This guy breathes guitar and he'll leave you breathless with his low-keyed dazzle and ability to shift gears and wobble the planets.

And finally, if you're looking for something different, something off the wall, music caught between a vector and an alpha particle, blues that reminds you of the blues, a blues that thinks of itself as an open category as a way of dealing with a world that deals from under the table, make a point of getting to know Germany's Wellbat (July 1, 9 pm). Like one the genre's largely unheralded creative geniuses (John Mayall), Daniel Wellbat convinces you that 12-bar can do anything it wants, however it wants and when it wants -- and you'll be wanting more.

Referring to the cathartic G in the key of C, or the D in the key of A, the blues is the perfect antidote to anything and everything that isn't right with the world -- or with your women or your man or significant other (pardon the inclusivity trope). And unlike any other festival of its kind, the Montreal Jazz Festival provides the grades.

Thanks to the free-show concept, one of the jazz festival's enduring note-perfect rites of summer, it's all yours for the taking, the people’s festival.



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