Even though Montreal excels at winter fun, by mid-February Montrealers’ thoughts turn wistfully to the glory of summertime: picnics in the park, walking along St-Laurent during the street fair, bike rides, and of course our many festivals, most significantly, the Montreal International Jazz Festival. Well, the Jazz Fest just helped us out by leaking some of the acts set to perform this summer…
(Famous Faces) Several big names have been announced for the 34th edition of the Montreal International Jazz Festival, happening June 28 to July 7 at classic music venues and outdoors on free stages. Naturally topping that list is the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, unleashing that diva voice and attitude on June 29 at Place des Arts. As always in the past decade or so, the festival branches out from jazz to include the jazz-influenced, like She & Him, the duo of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, playing July 3 with Camera Obscura, and, much to the delight of long-time fans, Scottish indie-pop group Belle & Sebastian, in Montreal for one of only two North American festival stops, on July 5. And American trumpeter Wynton Marsalis plays with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, on June 28.
(Jazz Style) Though the festival loves to mix and match musical ways, it’s jazz that still makes up the majority of festival acts. Several great musicians play three hours of jazz at saxophonist-composer Wayne Shorter’s 80th Birthday Celebration on June 29 – including Shorter himself! Ever-popular Pink Martini blends jazz with swing, pop and suave ways on June 27. One of Canada’s greatest jazz voices, Holly Cole returns to the festival with her new album and jazz standards, June 27-29. Saxophonist Joshua Redman comes back complete with a quartet and string section and a new album on June 29. Grammy-winning guitarist and singer George Benson plays his smooth greatest hits from the ‘70s and much more on June 30. And the world-touring Preservation Hall Jazz Band gets everyone’s toes tapping to Dixieland on July 5.
(Top 5 Picks) As everyone’s taste is different, it’s hard to say what is a must-see at this year’s festival, but Aretha Franklin is probably a sure bet. Can’t go wrong with Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings either, who always get the crowd dancing to their classic soul, modern R&B sound – see them July 3. Also on July 3, a double bill featuring New Orleans singer-pianist Dr. John and singer and multi-instrumentalist Leon Russell playing classic blues and ‘70s folk-rock is not to be missed. The saxophonist son of John Coltrane returns to Montreal with his Ravi Coltrane Quartet, playing June 28 after a five-year absence. And Oliver Jones shows us why he’s a jazz great and piano genius in a solo show on July 5. As the fest approaches, more acts are sure to be announced – big names and lesser knowns as well as major free outdoor concerts – so we’ll be adding to this list as summer approaches…
Montreal International Jazz Festival, June 28-July 7, 2013