|The outdoor crowd in Montreal
Photo credit: Victor Diaz Lamich/ FIJM
The main programme for the concert halls at the 40th Montreal Jazz Festival, by most measures the world’s largest, is announced today.
The full text of today’s press release, announcing the 150 concerts that will go on sale this Friday at 10 am EST (5pm BST), is HERE.
This is the last programme which has the direct involvement of Festival Co-Founder André Ménard, and I spoke to him about it. He first mentioned the programme for the Gesu Cultural Centre, where the programmers always give scope for performers to be seen in different contexts. This year Roberto Fonseca will be seen performing solo, and in a duo with Erik Truffaz and with Joaquin ‘Joe’ Claussell. Gesu also hosts a celebration of gipsy jazz, including Biréli Lagrene
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And the sequence of late night performers at Gesu is a work of art in itself. Over ten nights there will be: Melissa Aldana, Cyrille Aimée, Donny McCaslin, Makaya McCraven, Vincent Peirani, Butcher Brown, andChristine Jensen’s Quartet (with Helen Sung and Allison Miller), Larry Grenadier, Nik Baertsch’s Ronin, and Kris Davis. And that is just one of the smaller venues!
There is also a theme of celebrating the half century of ECM, and a host of artists from the label are performing.
Singers and instrumental legends feature at the Theatre Maisonneuve, so on successive nights there is a Richard Galliano/ Ron Carter duo and a Michel Legrand hommage from Galliano and a string quartet – then Omara Portoundo, Madeleine Peyroux, Bebel Gilberto in a double bill with Jane Bunnett and her Cuban Band, Madeleine Peyroux, Ravi Coltrane’s Quartet, Dianne Reeves, Joshua Redman’s new/old quartet…
And that isn’t beginning to scratch the surface…there are tiny gigs in clubs like Upstairs and Diese-Onze, all the way to the 21,000-capacity Bell Centre, the huge ice hockey stadium,which will host Bryan Adams.
I spoke to André Ménard about how his planned departure is going. The basic fact is that he will leave the company on 31 December. And what does that mean? “This year,” he told me, “I have had some involvement but it’s mostly the team doing the job now.” André Ménard is someone for whom the habits of going to gigs, forming impressions about artists is a way of life. How will he cope? “It might be strange for me for a while but I’ll get used to it I’m sure. I’ve been doing this for more than 40 years – it’s a big chunk out of a life.” Then he started talking about finally bringing some order into the thousands of records and books he has at home, so he can access what he wants… and as he did so he was clearly starting to wonder if the break really will be that final: “I will still go to concert halls, that’s not about to change. I hope the performers will still be as nice to me as they have always been!”
His memories of discovering artists at early stages of their careers are precious. He in fact first heard Melody Gardot at the Pigalle Club in London and remembers the impact. And there were decisive steps in the career of Diana Krall related to the festival, notably putting her on as opener for Oscar Peterson.The approach the festival takes is that it is part of the process of developing artists, and will tend to ask them back, and to put them on in bigger venues year by year.