Spectacular summer birthday celebration June 27 – July 6, 2019
As the 40th edition of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal (FIJM) approaches, our festive neighbors to the north are getting ready to party — and what an astounding array of talent! From the pre-opening concert with festival favorite Richard Galliano paying tribute to the late, great Michel Legrand, to the last midnight hip-hop jam session, I’ll be hanging on every note.
Artists, audiences and epicurious music fans agree that Montréal Jazz is the biggest and best music festival in North America — a hybrid greatest-hits album without a B-side. Jazz, blues, rock, world music, folk, be-bop, reggae, klezmer, pop, edgy newcomers and major luminaries will soon be lighting up city streets and stages.
Drop the Needle Anywhere
Starpower includes Norah Jones; Melody Gardot; George Benson; Alan Parsons; Peter Frampton‘s farewell tour; Buddy Guy; and good ol’ Snarky Puppy. Jazz royalty John Pizzarelli will be celebrating Nat King Cole’s centennial and extraordinary musical legacy. Living legends collide with brilliant new talent, nd create musical alchemy. No matter your age or taste, it doesn’t get any better. (Program!)
The 2019 festival marks the return of music to the streets, with events and performances throughout the historic downtown and waterfront. The nexus, as always, is Quartier des Spectacles, where large indoor, outdoor, free!, and family-friendly shows take place. In the spirit of inclusivity and connection, the 40th anniversary will introduce festival “hubs” in urban neighborhoods. This year, Verdun is the place — I can’t wait to explorethis new “hub.”
“The Festival de Jazz de Montréal has been a vital economic force for the past 39 years. After contributing to the development of the Quartier des Spectacles, this innovative, inspiring and inclusive Festival is bringing even more life to downtown Montréal and the many neighbourhoods where it unfolds.” — Mayor Valérie Plante
With its cobblestone streets, old-world architecture and rich French heritage, jazz fans will discover the “saveur” of Montréal at bakeries, cheese and paté shops, open markets, food tours, and more. This stylish city has plenty of brasseries and bistros, from classics like St. Viateur Bagel; Schwartz’s legendary deli; and the pioneer of foie gras, Au Pied de Cochon. City chefs continually racing to the forefront of nouvelle cuisine, so make plans accordingly — reservations highly recommended.
I can’t wait to taste all that Montréal has to offer, from Joe Beef’s trendy Liverpool House in Little Burgundy; to enjoying the Mile End Food Tour; and on to my eternal favorite, L’Express, tucked in a grey stone row house on rue Saint-Denis. Look for #3927, c’est classique!
Boozy and Beautiful
Montréal is unapologetically boozy. Leap into the groove with festival sponsor Hendricks Gin. Savor their signature G&T with cucumber ribbons. Have another.
Make the scene at the city’s world-class bars and brewpubs — each year brings great new pubs and microbreweries. We like Brutopia, rustic St. Houblon, and Nyk’s on the festival site. Montreal keeps beer simple: red, blonde or brown — yes!
The Beat Goes On
As always, making choices is the greatest challenge. The extraordinary 2019 lineup includes Omara Portuondo; Madeleine Peyroux; Bebel Gilberto; Ravi Coltrane Quartet; Dianne Reeves; Josh Redman; Alexandra Streliski; Bahamas; and the great Leslie Odom Jr. Knockouts keep coming like Brad Mehldau — can’t wait!; Chucho Valdés; Jazz Batá; Stacey Kent Symphonique; Rodrigo y Gabriela; and Pink Martini. (Artists!)
Les Rythmes Series is totally boss and includes the Strumbellas; Steel Pulse; Morcheeba; Lou Doillon; Mr Eazi with Blinky Bill; Courtney Barnett; First Aid Kit; J.S. Ondara; Jesse MacCormack; Hometown Honey, Nikki Yanofsky; Voïvod; Lee Fields & The Expressions; Jacob Collier; Jeremy Dutcher; Connan Mockasin; Alex Henry Foster; Yungblud; and my own inappropriate crush, Bobby Bazini. (Schedule!)
Don’t miss top-flight clubby performances from “Jazz Beat” each evening at Monument-National, featuring my favorite drummer Steve Gadd and his band; the great Patricia Barber; a soulful Kurt Elling with Danilo Perez — and many more. A range of musical color and refined jazz harmonies define this “monumental” evening series — accessible to all. (Tout Le Monde!)
Misses Satchmo — This irresistible swing sextet captures the sublime, the grotesque, the existential pang, the acerbic criticism and wild futurism of the great Boris Vian. https://www.montrealjazzfest.com/fr-CA/Programmation/Artistes#search=Satchmo
Yaron Herman — Franco-Israeli jazz pianist whose influences Keith Jarrett, Brad Melhau, Björk, Sting and classical composers Scriabin and Ravel forms a trio with partners Sam Minaie on double bass and Ziv Ravitz on drums. Do not miss! https://www.montrealjazzfest.com/en-CA/Programmation/Concerts#concert=9910
Susie Arioli — Our grand dame of jazz returns with originals and standards from the Great American Songbook and a performance true to herself: cheerful, colourful and jazzy! https://www.montrealjazzfest.com/fr-CA/Programmation/Artistes#search=Arioli
Black Pumas — Step back into soul music of the ’70s – that’s what this Texas sextet is all about. Led by Eric Burton and sterling guitar of Adrian Quesada. Don’t miss this. https://montrealjazzfest.com/en-CA/Programmation/Concerts?#concert=9920
Newen Afrobeat — Almost 20 musicians strong, this Chilean group echoes the rallying cry of Nigerian legend Fela Kuti: “Music is a weapon!” in dynamic and dance-worthy performances, wow. https://www.montrealjazzfest.com/En/Programmation/Artistes#search=Afrobeat
Linda May Han Oh Quintet — Han-Oh is Malaysian-born composer-musician living in New York, currently the bassist in the Pat Metheny quartet – wow. Check out her album, Walk Against Wind. https://montrealjazzfest.com/en-CA/Programmation/Concerts?#concert=9942
Clay and Friends — Joyous troubadours led by composer, singer and instrumentalist Mike Clay bring the unforgettable celebratory sound of Verdun, in the funk, soul and hip-hop groove. https://montrealjazzfest.com/en-ca/Programmation/Artistes#concert=9944
This 40th edition of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal will be held from June 27 to July 6, 2019. I hope to see you there. A bientot. •
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Farewell to festival co-founder and artistic director, André Ménard. It has been a gas getting to know you, and hearing your “take” each spring. Congratulations and au revoir to someone whose guts and gravitas I have long admired.