After 33 years, the Montreal International Jazz Festival has its programming down: big names that traverse a broad spectrum of jazz and jazz-ish rock, massive free outdoor shows and mega doses of lesser-known or up-and-coming musicians with huge talent. The Montreal Buzz Jazz Fest Guide gives an overall perspective on all of it, so here we’re going to shine the spotlight on free shows and lesser-known musicians…
Unsurprisingly, the free stuff start and ends with big names: Rufus Wainwright takes the main outdoor stage to open the festival on June 28 and electro-dance party makers Chromeo close the fest on July 7. But in between those famous bookends comes a slew of fantastic musicians on the fest’s outdoor stages, starting at 11 a.m. each day and ending after 10 p.m.
The party keeps going indoors with free shows late into the night – see acts such as electro-rock Artist of the Year, DJs Ghostbeard and Poirier, Jazz Amnesty Sound System, Heavy Soundz, John Roney, Thomas Carbou, Canicule Tropicale and Kalmunity.
As always, the Jazz Fest let’s us see first-hand how genres evolve and change. Soul and heart-felt vocals will always be in style, and American singer Gregory Porter (June 28, L’Astral) is proof, as are fab Scottish singer Emeli Sandé (July 2, Club Soda) and inspiring Malian singer-guitarist Sidi Touré (July 2 at Scene Bell and July 3 at Scene Rio Tinto Alcan).
Classic names in electronic music and prog Tangerine Dream and Van der Graaf Generator are on the bill this year along with up-and-coming electronic musicians such as violinist Chapelier Fou (July 2-3, Theatre Quat’Sous), Danish jazz drummer Mikkel Hess’ Hess Is More (June 28, Scene Bell), whose style swings from a pop-folk akin to Sufjan Stevens to smooth, fun-times electro-dance, and techno dancefloor shakers Nobody Beats the Drum (July 5, SAT), as well as amazing post-rock saxophonist Colin Stetson (June 29, Gesu).
The past, present and future of jazz also collide in Get the Blessing (July 1, Gesu), a British rock-jazz quartet featuring members of Portishead, Mr. Ho’s Orchestra (June 29, Scene TD) , a 20-piece-plus orchestra playing Juan Garcia Esquivel, Swiss group Colin Vallon Trio (July 4, L’Astral), Quebec City-based pianist Vincent Gagnon (June 29, Scene CBC), Montreal’s pop-tinged Jérôme Beaulieu Trio (July 2, Scene CBC), American-turned-Montrealer pianist Taurey Butler (July 1, L’Astral) and Quebecoise musician Jorane with the Orchestre I Musici de Montréal (June 30, Maison symphonique de Montréal).
Jazz-tinted pop, rock and folk are no stranger to the Montreal Jazz Fest either. Hear it in the Brooklyn-based indie-rock of The Dirty Projectors (July 7, Club Soda), super tight and captivating Montreal trio Timber Timbre (July 6, Theatre Maisonneuve), jazz guitarist Misja Fitzgerald Michel’s A Portrait of Nick Drake, (July 6-7, Theatre de Quat’Sous), Ian Kelly’s pop-folk crooning and guitar (June 30, Scene TD), François & The Atlas Mountains (July 2, Scene Bell), The Barr Brothers (July 1, Metropolis) and Parc-X Trio, who play with Meshell Ndgeocello (July 1, Club Soda) as well as outdoors (June 30, Scene CBC).
And true to Montreal’s urban style, hip hop also makes the Jazz Fest scene in many of its different styles: The Narcicyst (July 4, Scene Bell) is known as much for his politics as his high-energy performances; the awesome, outer-spacey Deltron 3030 (Dan The Automator, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien and Kid Koala) and Montreal’s Nomadic Massive (July 6, Metropolis), none other than one of the first Canadian hip-hop stars Maestro Fresh Wes (July 6, Scene Bell), and Stalley (July 6, SAT), an Ohio MC making a name for himself with mixtapes full of critically praised rap, soul and spoken word.
The Montreal International Jazz Festival, June 28-July 7, 2012