Montreal Jazz Fest To Offer Heavy Hitters, Concept Concerts
Posted 4/30/2012

Producers of the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal are celebrating the festival’s 33rd year with a diverse program that runs June 28–July 7. The festival will continue its tradition of presenting classic jazz artists and unique artist configurations.

Spectrum Road—the all-star quartet of bassist Jack Bruce, guitarist Vernon Reid, drummer Cindy Blackman Santana and keyboardist John Medeski—will perform on June 28 at the 1,482-seat Théâtre Maisonneuve. The band, which will be on the cover of the July issue of DownBeat, will perform material from its self-titled debut, slated for a June 5 release on Palmetto. The album explores the jazz-rock innovations of the late drummer Tony Williams.

The Wayne Shorter Quartet will perform at the Théâtre Maisonneuve on June 29, and on July 2, the venue will host a Miles Davis tribute by the Miles Smiles collective, with Kenny Garrett, Wallace Roney, Darryl Jones, Joey DeFrancesco and Omar Hakim.

Bassist Stanley Clarke will perform multiple concerts throughout the festival. Clarke’s highly anticipated trio gig with fellow bassists Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten at Théâtre Maissoneuve on June 30 is a must-see event. Clarke will perform in an acoustic setting with pianist Hiromi on June 28 at the Théâtre Jean-Duceppe, and he will return to the venue on June 29 for an evening with the Harlem String Quartet.

Bassist Ron Carter, who hasn’t been a headliner at the festival since 1994, will perform on July 2 at Club Soda. Joining him for a trio performance will be guitarist Russell Malone and pianist Donald Vega.

In a wonderful example of Montreal’s unique programming, French accordionist Richard Galliano will perform with a classical orchestra in the wide-ranging program “From Bach To Piazzolla.” The concert, which will take place on June 28 at the acoustically sterling Maison Symphonique de Montreal, will spotlight the virtuoso accordionist’s versatility.

The Maison Symphonique de Montreal also will host a duo piano concert by Patricia Barber and Kenny Werner on June 29.

The venue Métropolis will host both up-and-comers and superstars during the fest. Bassist-vocalist Esperanza Spalding will perform at the venue on June 29 in a program featuring material from her new Heads Up/Concord album, Radio Music Society.

Additionally, the festival offers a wide array of headliners from outside of the realm of jazz. This year, singer-songwriter James Taylor will headline a “pre-opening” concert on June 27 at the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier. Pop star Seal will perform at the same venue on July 6, reggae artist Ziggy Marley will perform at Métropolis on June 28 and the funk/rock band Fishbone will play at La Société des Arts Technologiques on June 30.

Fans of big-band jazz are in for a double treat on July 8: “Battle Of The Bands: The Duke Ellington Orchestra vs. The Count Basie Orchestra” will take place at the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier.

“That concept generates excitement, and then at the end of the show, both bands get to play two songs together,” said festival co-founder André Ménard.

Montreal consistently presents a variety of seasoned local talent and international favorites. Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen will perform four concerts July 4–7. Vocalist-pianist Eliane Elias will perform with her Brasileira Quartet at Club Soda on June 30.

Other performers include singer Gregory Porter, harmonicist Grégoire Maret, guitarist Pierre Bensusan, saxophonist Greg Osby and guitarist Pat Martino.

Norah Jones, who played the festival in 2002 and 2003, returns to Montreal to perform music from her new Blue Note album, Little Broken Hearts, on July 7 at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier. Jones, who has sold over 40 million albums, collaborated with Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse) on the new album.

This year’s festival will include more than 150 ticketed concerts, as well as numerous free events. There was street construction in Montreal last year, but fest attendees will have smoother navigation in 2012.

“Most of the works on the street are finished now,” Ménard said. “They’re not in the way of the festival, so [attendees] who were there last year, with all the fences, [should note that] it’s now going to be much more circulatory.”

For a complete listing of artists at Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, visit the festival’s website.

Hilary Brown

Spectrum Road


UCA Press


Lisa Hilton

Steve Webster—EC Barlow

Jody Jazz


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