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.



Heavy Hitters Headed to Montreal Jazz Festival

The high-caliber talent, gorgeous concert venues, relaxed outdoor shows, and cosmopolitan setting conspire to make the Montreal International Jazz Festival one of the world’s best events of its kind (I attended the festival in 2012, after a long absence).

So, then, no surprise here: An onslaught of high-end artists are on tap for this summer’s 35th annual edition of the fest, June 26 to July 6.

Jazzers and others headed to Montreal:

  • Newport Festival “Now 60” Band (right): Randy Brecker, Anat Cohen, Larry Grenadier, Karrin Allyson, Mark Whitfield, Clarence Penn, Peter Martin — June 26now 60 band
  • Mike Stern/Bill Evans Band with Tom Kennedy and Steve Smith — June 27
  • Cecile McLorin Salvant (winner of the Thelonious Monk Jazz Vocal Competition in 2010)– June 27
  • Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite — June 28
  • Stacey Kent — June 28
  • Brad Mehldau, solo — July 1
  • Marcus Miller — July 1
  • Kenny Garrett Quintet with Vernell Brown, Corcoran Holt, Rudy Bird, and McClenty Hunter — July 1
  • The Chieftains with Ry Cooder — July 2

Michael Janisch, in Bass Player Magazine

I recently spoke with Michael Janisch, the U.S.-to-U.K. bassist making a splash on the international jazz scene, for a piece published in Bass Player magazine. Check out the story here, or read the text, below:


WISCONSIN-BRED MICHAEL JANISCH obsessed over Flea’s lines, played electric in rock bands, and earned a history degree on a football scholarship before studying jazz at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. There, he refocused on the upright, deepened his love for the playing of Paul Chambers and Ray Brown, and prepped for a period in New York. In 2007, he permanently relocated to London.

Janisch’s debut solo CD, Purpose Built, recorded in Brooklyn, is a transatlantic effort that highlights Janisch’s fleet-fingered fretboard work, and features superb performances by the likes of pianist Aaron Goldberg and drummer Johnathan Blake. The group takes on an eclectic set of challenging, inventive original compositions, and bracing arrangements of standards.

In your early years playing, who inspired you the most?

The deep feeling Ray Brown put forth when he played, and his consistent quarternote groove, are things that I still try to emulate today. In terms of tone, I’ve always been into Larry Grenadier. He was really hitting the scene ten years ago, and that huge, dark sound of his was what I wanted to get into.

What did you want to accomplish with your debut solo album?

I knew it was going to be pretty ambitious, in terms of personnel and compositions. I ended up deciding on 12 tracks, and using nine different musicians from here and the States, since I had freelanced in both countries. I wanted to present a mix of things that I’d been up to, hint of what’s to come, and showcase different kinds of compositions.

How does the London jazz scene differ from that of New York?

In America, it’s beaten into your head to learn standards. Here, they don’t teach that in schools. It’s more like you’re encouraged get your own concept together when you’re very young, instead of spending so much time on the tradition. But knowing standards really helped me when I got here, because it helped me get across in all the different cliques.

BP0310_bn_mj_nrHEAR HIM ON

Michael Janisch, Purpose Built (Whirlwind, 2009]; Gary Husband’s Drive, Hotwired (Abstract Logix, 2009); TransAtlantic Collective, Traveling Song (Woodville, 2008); Paul Towndrow, Six By Six (Keywork, 2007)