Montreal Jazz Fest — Wishing I was there

I’ve had some incredible experiences hearing great performances and soaking up the other jazz happenings at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. Not to mention getting a chance to enjoy the cosmopolitan culture of one of North America’s most beautiful and most historic cities.


Last summer’s festival was again jam-packed with great music, some of which I wrote about for JazzTimes, and in several posts on this blog.

Sadly, I can’t make it for the 38th edition of the fest, which runs June 28-July 8.

But if I WERE headed to Montreal at the end of this month, I’d do my best to catch the following jazz, blues and pop/rock artists (some of whom are playing in bands with others on the list):

Ambrose Akinmusire, Arturo Sandoval, The Bad Plus, Ben Street, Bill Frisell, Brian Blade, Buddy Guy, Carla Bley, Charles Bradley, Charles Lloyd, Charlie Musselwhite, Curtis Lundy, Danilo Perez, Dave Douglas, Diana Krall, Donny McCaslin, E.J. Strickland, Eric Harland, Essiet Essiet, George Cables, Gerald Clayton, Ingrid Jensen, Jack DeJohnette, Jacob Collier, Jane Bunnett, Jeremy Pelt, Jesse Cook, John Hollenbeck, John Medeski, John Pizzarelli, John Scofield, Joshua Redman, Joss Stone, King Crimson, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Larry Grenadier, Michael Blake, Nicholas Payton, Reuben Rogers, Robert Glasper, Robin Eubanks, Scott Colley, Stanley Clarke, UZEB, and Wallace Roney.

Headed to Montreal? Let me know your thoughts on what you hear.

As for me — better luck next year.




Nothing Like the Sound of Fresh Jazz French Horn in the Morning

The French horn meets jazz – Tom Varner plays Monk’s “Straight, No Chaser” with the George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band, in Tokyo in 1988.

Trumpeter Arturo Sandoval (before he defected to the U.S.) solos here, too, and the band includes Gruntz, piano; Mike Richmond, bass; Paul Motian, drums; Ray Anderson and Art Baron, trombone; and Sharon Freeman, French horn.

The Seattle-based horn man and composer’s latest CD, Heaven and Hell, received a four-star review in the February issue of Down Beat.

Varner teaches at Cornish College of the Arts, and he’s a prime mover in the Julius Watkins Jazz French Horn Festival, the sixth edition of which was held last October.

Thanks to my friend and old fellow French-horn player Craig Kowald (he still plays; I don’t) for sending the Varner clip my way.

Jazz for Haiti: Benefits in NYC and Elsewhere; Why Not Florida?

Pop stars aren’t the only ones offering their talents to help raise funds to aid those devastated by the Haitian earthquake.

Jazz musicians are putting their horns where their hearts are, too, starting with tonight’s performance by Groove Collective at Le Poisson Rouge in Manhattan. The funky acid-jazz outfit will be joined by special guests including trumpeter Roy Hargrove, pianist Vijay Iyer, turntable wizard DJ Logic, P-Funk/Talking Heads keyboardist Bernie Worrell, a trio led by organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, guitarist Lionel Loueke and bassist Richard Bona, Yatande Bwakaiman Vodou Drums, and Swiss Chris.

That’s according to a report published online at Jazz Times, a blog post by Howard Mandel, and the venue’s own site.

Mandel also has rounded up info on several other upcoming jazz benefits around the U.S., including a citywide event Wednesday night in Seattle, and a St. Louis concert on Feb. 9. He also offers a brief but insightful analysis of jazz’s kinship with Haitian music, along with a clip of great bassist Charles Mingus‘s “Haitian Fight Song.”   Click hear to read Mandel’s post.

So where’ s the response to the crisis by jazz musicians in Miami, or by those in other cities around Florida, the U.S. state in closest proximity to Haiti, with the largest population of Haitian-Americans?

Cuban-born trumpeter Arturo Sandoval is probably the natural focal point for such a benefit concert in Miami. Sandoval heads to New York this weekend for a four-date stand at the Blue Note, but he has no other dates scheduled until Feb. 26, according to his web site. Sounds like opportunity knocking…

(Other artists in Miami are responding with major concerts, including this weekend’s two-day festival at Bayfront Park headed by popular compas group The Dixie Band; and these other events).

Langerado: Hmmmm

I wrote this in response to a comment on my below post, and I thought I might as well give it its own post:

“It’s not nearly impressive as it could have been, and should have been.

As it stands now, I’m no longer sure that this will be a “must” on my 09 concert calendar.

For those (like me) interested in seeing great jam bands on the bill, the lineup at Bear Creek was far, far more impressive.

If I were running the fest, I would have included far more jam bands — MMW? Karl Denson? Robert Walter? Charlie Hunter? Galactic? The Motet? Lettuce? — plus at least one of the Dead-related bands, one of the Allmans-related bands, more altcountry, New Orleans acts, blues acts, and a jazz act or two.

And for the love of God, it’s in Miami: Why not more reggae and/or African acts? One or more of the Marleys? Femi Kuti? Thomas Mapfumo? Boukman Eksperyans? Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra? Chicago Afrobeat Project?

How about Latin jazz and Brazilian? Arturo Sandoval? Omar Sosa? Eliane Elias?

I could go on, but, in short … color me disappointed.