Just Around the Corner: The Montreal International Jazz Fest

It’s that time of year again: I get to take in the announcements of world-class artists playing amazing summer jazz festivals, some in the United States but mostly in Canada, Europe, and elsewhere around the world.

So many festivals, so little time. But mainly, so little $$ to get there. Still, we can all revel in the fact that jazz is alive and well, at least on the fest circuit, and that so many first-rate players are keeping busy playing these events.

I’ve had the opportunity to attend The Montreal International Jazz Festival three times over the last 14 years, and it’s one of my favorites — loads of high-caliber jazz, world music, blues, pop/rock, and “other” acts, all playing gorgeous indoor theaters, intimate nightclubs, and sprawling outdoor stages. Did I mention that everything is extremely well organized?

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Montreal is an unusually clean and attractive city, and easy to get around via walking and public transportation. In addition to checking out all the amazing music, it was great wandering around the Old Town area, observing Canada Day festivities, savoring the Euro-cosmopolitanism of Montreal and having several outstanding meals, including one at the Stash Cafe, a superb Polish restaurant. Back when, I even had the chance to spend some time there hanging out with my old friend, WUSF’s Bob Seymour and his wife Marian. And it’s always nice running into jazz-journalist colleagues.

Most recently, in 2012, I covered the fest for Relix & Jambands.com — check out my fest overview, and my reviews of Esperanza Spalding (see my video clip, above); SMV (Stanley Clarke/Marcus Miller/Victor Wooten), the Stanley Clarke Band, and Victor Wooten’s group; and Bill Frisell. I also interviewed Stanley for a preview of his multiple Montreal appearances, for a story that ran in Bass Player mag.

Back in 2002, I reviewed the fest for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, and in 2001, my coverage appeared at jazzhouse.org (and elsewhere).

This year’s fest, its 35th, takes place June 26 to July 5, and two acts on the bill are really whetting my appetite: The Bad Plus with Joshua Redman, and Snarky Puppy. I’ve seen both bands — The Bad Plus at Jazz Fest in New Orleans and the Clearwater, Fla venue now called the Capitol Theatre; Snarky Puppy just recently at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg — although I’ve never seen Redman with The Bad Plus. Both groups play jazz-oriented music that is deeply creative and often falls on the side of edgy/innovative. These guys are players, and both bands up up to a kind of music that travels beyond typical jazz confines while still honoring the tradition(s).

Also appealing to me: Bebel Gilberto, Al Di Meola, Stanley Clarke, Richard Galliano, Abdullah Ibrahim (solo and with various ensembles), Madeleine Peyroux, Dee Dee Bridgewater with Irvin Mayfield and the NOJO, and Eliane Elias,

So … maybe I’ll get back this year, maybe I won’t. If you get the chance, go. For all the details, click here

Listening Post #2: Eliane Elias, David Finck, Buddy Miller, Bill Moring, Nils Petter Molvaer

Five releases in rotation at home and in the car – a list without comment (in alphabetical order):

Eliane Elias, Bossa Nova Stories (Blue Note)eliane-elias1

The David Finck Quartet, Future Day (Soundbrush)

Buddy Miller, Midnite and Lonesome (Hightone)

Bill Moring & Way Out East, Spaces in Time (Owl)

Nils Petter Molvaer, Khmer (ECM)

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.