Music rules the city during the Montreal International Jazz Festival, June 26 to July 6, with dozens of concerts every day and late into the night, jazzing up big outdoor stages downtown and adding festival excitement to intimate indoor venues…
The heart of Jazz Fest, around Place des Arts in the Quartier des Spectacles, hosts some of the festival’s biggest names. Diana Krall opens the 35th edition of the Jazz Festival with a major free outdoor concert on June 29, Diana Ross performs two special concerts on her In the Name of Love Tour at the opulent Salle Wilfred-Pelletier, while Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin herself sings all her hits, and B.B. King returns with honours to the festival in a double bill with Gary Clark Jr. on July 5.
Elvis Costello receives the venerable Montreal Jazz Festival Spirit Award before a career-spanning concert, Terence Blanchard becomes the 21st musician to win the festival’s Miles Davis Award and performs with his quintet and L’Orchestre national de jazz de Montréal, Rufus Wainwright performs three captivating solo shows, Bobby McFerrin continues to astound with his soulful vocal escapades, Earth, Wind & Fire give new life to ‘70s funk, Ben Harper joins bluesman Charlie Musselwhite on stage for a night of heartfelt melodies, legendary pianist Oliver Jones celebrates 80 years of music making, and Canadian crooner Michael Bublé charms us all.
Brooklyn-based neo-soul master Maxwell channels legends of R&B in a first-time Montreal appearance, while festival regulars Pink Martini create an instant party atmosphere. Trumpeter Tom Harrell impresses while accompanied by Esperanza Spalding, musician and producer Daniel Lanois shows his expertise on stage, pianist Keith Jarrett performs solo, and Grammy-winning jazz singer Dianne Reeves’s voice soars. Daniel “Pipi” Piazzolla’s Escalandrum returns with a rock twist on tango, Ethiopian “ethno-jazz” musician Mulatu Astatke astounds as does Nigerian desert-blues guitarist Bombino, while funk-soul star Angélique Kidjo shares songs from her 13th album Eve, a tribute to African women. Among rock and rap at the festival, don’t miss British drummer Ginger Baker (former member of Cream), Zappa Plays Zappa, psych-rock band Of Montreal, ‘90s punk-folk faves Violent Femmes, eclectic singer-songwriter Andrew Bird, the comeback of Canadian pop stars Barenaked Ladies, and old-school American rapper-producer Oddisee. To top it all off, the king of West Coast rap, Snoop Dogg, whip fans into a Snoop-patented frenzy.
Even outside the Jazz Fest grounds, the beat goes on. Learn more about the history of music in the city at the McCord Museum in downtown Montreal – during the Jazz Fest receive a 40%-off rebate on entry to the museum’s exhibition Music – Québec: From Charlebois to Arcade Fire, as well as a discount on the exhibition’s accompanying compilation CD. Old Montreal adds jazz to the many attractions and luxury restaurants, hotels and boutiques already lining the cobblestone streets of the historic area – see live jazz bands at the Place d’Armes Zone Musique during noon-hour on July 3 and 4, with more music on Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the summer. Family-friendly downtown hotel Tour Belvedere features ticket giveaways for private concerts by local bands at Breakglass Studio as well as live concerts and concert broadcasts on a big screen on the hotel patio and in the lobby. Restaurant and bar Espace la Fontaine, in beautiful Parc La Fontaine, features live jazz every Thursday and Friday evening. And on July 1, the Friends of Mont Royal celebrate Canada Day and the Jazz Fest with traditional songs and all kinds of family activities at 3 p.m. at the Chalet du Mont-Royal at the top of Mount Royal Park – go for the music, socializing and the amazing view of the city. And make even more memories on local tours, including a Jazz Fest dinner cruise and walking tours through Montreal’s Little Burgundy and St-Henri neighbourhoods.
The Montreal International Jazz Festival, June 26 to July 6, 2014
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