Friday, May 8, 2009

Minor beef with the Montreal Jazz Festival

HH and I went to the Montreal Jazz Festival several years ago and loved it. We have always wanted to return--Montreal is one of our favorite cities, Europe without the jet lag--but most of the jazz we want to see is indoors and ticketed so it gets pricey. I keep up with the program each year and get that achey I-wish-I-could-go feeling.

Montreal has long been a festival that features more than jazz; when we went, we saw Prince, which was kind of crazy b/c at that time he was still living in Minneapolis and we could see him right here, but we thought it would be fun to see him outside his hometown and it was. We spent the rest of the time running from venue to venue for jazz.

The press release for this year's festival (June 30-July 12) arrived in my emailbox this week. Here are the headlines:

* * * * *
Wealth of Performances Including Jeff Beck, Harlem Gospel Choir, Buddy Guy, Mos Def, Pink Martini, The Dears, The Orb, Burning Spear, Toots & The Maytals and Many More
* * *

Montréal to Host 650+ Concerts Over Two Weeks

I get that it's not just a jazz festival. But couldn't they include just one jazz concert in the headline? Don't Wynton Marsalis, Dave Brubeck, Maria Schneider, Wayne Shorter, Branford Marsalis, or Ornette Coleman--all of whom are listed on the schedule--merit a mention up top?

Not that MJF isn't still a great jazz festival. It is. Also featured this year: Chucho Valdes, Dave Holland, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Chris Potter, Eric Harland, Robert Glasper, Sophie Milman, Patricia Barber, John Pizzarelli, The Bad Plus, Russell Malone, Joshua Redman, Joe Lovano, Brian Blade, Larry Grenadier, Eliane Elias, Kenny Garrett, Kenny Werner, Wallace Roney, Bill Frisell, Lew Tabackin, Lewis Nash, Baptiste Trotignon, Al Jarreau, Mark Turner, Jeremy Pelt, Greg Hutchison, Matt Penman, Esperanza Spalding, Lee Konitz, Hiromi, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Bill Charlap, Houston Person, Greg Osby, Gerald Clayton, Lionel Loueke, Anat Cohen, Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, and (gasp) more.

Wish I could go. If you go, try to make time July 4 or July 11 for the International Fireworks Competition. Very serious fireworks that make the annual Target-sponsored Aquatennial show look like sparklers in your neighbor's backyard.

The MJF website, with complete program. Starting June 3, the complete history will also be online--30 years of programs.


  1. I have a question: am planning to go to Montreal for the festival with my family (kids age 10 and 15) for the first time. Looks like there is lots of kid friendly stuff going on, but specifically, do you (or anybody else out there) know whether a venue like Metropolis might be OK for them, or is too night clubby?


  2. Hi Noelle--It's been a while since we were at the Montreal festival, but I do recall the Metropolis being nightclubby, plus the shows we attended there started late-ish. Club Soda is also a bar/club. This is not to say that your children couldn't get in; if I'm not mistaken, Canada is a bit looser about this sort of thing than the US. (Also, if this is your first visit to Montreal, don't be surprised by the number of big, bright SEX SHOP signs you see on the main thoroughfares. My son found them fascinating.) Although I whined about the lack of attention given jazz acts in the festival's promotional materials, this is a great festival in a great city and you'll have a wonderful time. Get a good guide book, take the kids to the big pool at the Olympic park if you have time, ride the metro, check out the Botanical Garden, and try to catch one of the International Fireworks Competition shows (see hotlink above). Drinnk some good Canadian beer. Enjoy!


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