Music fills the streets of Montreal this week as the Montreal International Jazz Festival starts up, with hundreds of musicians and thousands of fans at outdoor shows under the stars and indoor concerts with jazz (and rock) greats. As well, internationally renowned circus, theatre, art and even more music keeps the town hopping as July begins…
(jazz days & nights) The Montreal International Jazz Festival begins on Friday night with festival favourite Feist playing a massive, free outdoor show in the heart of the Quartier des Spectacles. More outdoor shows – hundreds of them – fill the downtown air with music over the next few weeks: check out Montreal folk-rock stars The Barr Brothers, 30-piece Chicago-based orchestra Mucca Pazza, the Afro-Cuban rumba of the Pedrito Martinez Group, the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, Roma Carnivale, Fanfare Ciocarlia and more. Friday night also brings with it big shows from swingin’ cabaret band Pink Martini, American trumpet aficionado Wynton Marsalis, Canadian jazz singer Holly Cole and saxophonist (and son of John Coltrane) Ravi Coltrane. On Saturday night, Wayne Shorter is in town for his 80th birthday celebrations, along with shows from Joshua Redman, Sarah Slean and The Herbalizer. On June 30, rock with Boz Scaggs, New York’s The Virgins and Vieux Farka Touré, while later in the week, Lyle Lovett and Chris Isaak add a little country to the fest, Montreal songwriter Martha Wainwright plays new songs, She & Him (Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward) play heartfelt pop, along with much, much more, including free late-night shows at L’Astral, Le Balmoral and Metropolis. There’s even a new historical walking tour this year, tracing the story of jazz in Montreal.
(circus, theatre & dance) International circus festival Montréal Complètement Cirque begins two weeks of astounding shows, July 3-14. Among them, see UK troupe Gandini Juggling in the humour-filled Smashed, French jester Ludor Citrik, Spain’s eccentric Escarlata Circus, Music-Hall de la Baronne, a cabaret-like collaboration between Montréal Complètement Cirque and Cirque Éloize, and great Australian troupe Circa in a show simply called S. Acrobats, clowns, jugglers and more circus acts come out to play at the Quartier des Spectacle, at circus centre La Tohu, and in the Latin Quarter. Some of Montreal’s contemporary dance community makes a waterless swimming pool into a temporary venue June 28-29: Piss in the Pool presents a variety of new dances at Bain St-Michel (5300 St-Dominique), 8:30 p.m. And traditional Yiddish music mixes with hip hop in Josh Dolgin’s inventive comedy-musical, Tales From Odessa (A Socalled Musical), at the Segal Centre.
(summer art) The summertime sunshine is reflected in the gorgeous glass artwork of American artist Dale Chihuly’s solo exhibition “Utterly Breathtaking” at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts – a colourful, fascinating must-see show from an artist who deserves the fame. The most fun – and even funny – kind of conceptual art can be seen at DHC/ART, host to an extensive exhibition of artwork by Cory Arcangel, from Nintendo video-game interventions to 20-foot-tall Guns N’ Roses video clips. Meanwhile, a block over at the Phi Centre Montreal gallery Donald Browne, known for consistently fascinating exhibitions and artists, claims some of the Centre’s space with a Pop Up Gallery, featuring installation work by Myriam Laplante, photography by Shari Hatt, Raymonde April, Sorel Cohen and Marie Chouinard, sculpture by Gabriel Coutu-Dumont, Laura Santini and Louis Fortier, and more.
(urban park life) Just down the street from Jazz Fest’s outdoor site, the SAT begins two months of activities in Parc de la Paix, next door to SAT headquarters on Saint-Laurent. Gorge on gourmet BBQ while DJs play electronic music, followed by films screenings at 9 p.m. – on the night of Wednesday, July 3, see British filmmaker Julien Temple’s documentary London: The Modern Babylon, and on July 4-5, see films selected by the Vues d’Afrique film festival. Further away from downtown, at the Montreal Botanical Garden, experience the wonder of Mosaïcultures Internationales Montréal, an extensive display – and an international competition – of massive sculptures created entirely of plants. And on the night of June 28, look up in the sky to see England’s entry in fireworks competition L’International des Feux Loto-Québec.
(street parties) Not far from all the activity on the Jazz Fest stages this long weekend is the Quartier Latin en Fête, June 29 to July 1, three full days of music, activities for kids, a climbing wall, a pétanque (kind of like lawn bowling) playing field, and more, all outdoor on Saint-Denis Street between Sherbrooke to De Maisonneuve. On the main stage at night, hear music from Montrealers The Golden Tribe, Whywhynot, Carl Tremblay, Lazy Lovers, and more, as well as daytime shows from musicians who usually share their talents in Montreal’s metro stations. For the brave, belt out your favourite tunes in front of a giant karaoke screen on Saturday evening. As Canada Day comes to a close n Monday evening, there’s even a Speakeasy Burlesque show at L’Abreuvoir pub. And in another part of town, Plaza St-Hubert holds its Festival Atmosph’air, with music from Fanny Bloom and other Quebec musicians, as well as dance performances, kids activities and more, July 3-7.
(more music) While the Jazz Festival takes over many of the city’s music venues, non-festival shows still prevail. If you don’t know what you’re in the mood for, check out the talents of Quebec signer and pianist Gregory Charles, who covers a variety of songs from the ‘40s to present day at pop-up cabaret-style club Vintage in the Old Port of Montreal, to July 14. And Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain plays free chamber music concerts at noon at Place Jacques-Cartier in the Old Port, June 29-30 and July 1. Philadelphia’s Bleeding Rainbow jangles guitars and rocks out just right, with openers Fat Creeps, at Il Motore (179 Jean Talon W.) on June 29. Sunday is saved for electronic music: spend the afternoon at in the park at Piknic Electronik with the live techno of Toronton’s Sound in Motion crew: Chris Larsen, Alicia Hush Dr. Nojoke and Billy Dalessandro, plus Moonstarr and Pursuit Grooves playing the smaller, tucked-in-the-trees stage. On Sunday night, world-famous German DJ and producer Paul Van Dyk gets the crowd dancing at New City Gas. Coming in from California, Cayucas brings their sunny, surf-side pop-rock to Il Motore on July 2. And on July 4, Chilean Cumbia band Chico Trujillo merges cumbia, ska, reggae and rock at Cabaret Mile End.